Saturday, 16/12/2017 | 3:25 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • 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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  • Break Deadlock in Disarmament Machinery by Casting Aside Narrow National Interests, ‘Misguided Notions of Parity’, Speakers Tell First Committee

    States must overcome narrow national interests and “misguided notions of parity” to overcome the disarmament machinery’s deadlock and lead the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a programme of work, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as its general debate entered a second week.

    Speakers, including those from El Salvador and India, expressed hope for a new momentum to break the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.  As the only multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament agreements, its 65 members had failed to agree on a work programme for almost two decades.  Disappointed to note that the proposed enlargement process at the Conference on Disarmament had been stalled for years, the representative of Cyprus stressed that its expansion would give a “new impetus to its work”.

    Alongside calls to break the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, topics including chemical weapons, terrorism and a fissile material cut-off treaty took centre stage as delegates underscored the importance of multilateral cooperation in tackling some of the world’s most pressing disarmament challenges.  Reaffirming its support for such a unified approach, Portugal’s speaker emphasized that multilateralism, based on universal rules and values, was the most effective way to address common security challenges, manage shared disarmament responsibilities and devise collective non-proliferation initiatives.

    Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s representative reminded the Committee that disarmament and peace must be pursued in parallel and founded on mutual trust.  Yet, said Turkey’s speaker, the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture was being challenged by the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria at a time of growing polarization in the area of nuclear disarmament,

    No initiatives aimed at increasing safety, however, should be used as a pretext to restrict developing countries’ rights to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, said Namibia’s delegate, echoing a view held by several other speakers, including representatives of Bahrain and Jordan.

    Other speakers expressed grave concerns over the looming risks of a radiological attack by terrorists and non-State actors.  To counter such threats, national measures must be adopted and international cooperation intensified, Singapore’s speaker stressed.  Striking a similar note, Saudi Arabia’s representative emphasized the importance of keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorists’ hands.  Meanwhile, Syria’s delegate condemned several States for supporting terrorist groups who were using toxic chemicals in his country.

    Also delivering statements today were representatives of Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ireland, Canada, Panama, Nepal, Bulgaria and Poland.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Republic of Korea, Syria, United States, Qatar, Libya, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

    The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 10 October, to conclude its debate on all disarmament and related international security questions.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Statements

    MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), Chair of the First Committee, announced that an additional meeting would be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 October to ensure that all Member States on the list of speakers for the general debate had the opportunity to participate.

    HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) congratulated the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its tireless efforts and for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Commending the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, El Salvador had signed and ratified it, as its adoption strengthened the mechanism for disarmament.  It also complemented the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he said, calling on parties to meet its provisions and seek consensus by the 2020 Review Conference.  Turning to current increased tensions and nuclear tests, he said renewed dialogue was the only way to ensure peace in all regions.  On the issue of small arms and light weapons, he praised the Arms Trade Treaty for being the first legally binding agreement of its kind.  Meanwhile, he expressed concerns that the Conference on Disarmament was not able to comply with its mandate, and urged for the swift commencement of its substantive work.

    AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India) said “national security interests and misguided notions of parity” had obstructed the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of a programme of work.  India did not adhere to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but was willing to work with its signatories in disarmament forums to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons and was ready to support negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

    For its part, India had completed its obligations on stockpile destruction under the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.  It had also contributed to efforts for the destruction of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles.  Concerned about the threat of use of biological agents for terrorist purposes, he called on States parties to effectively implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  He also called for a continued substantive mandate, adequate funding and the participation of all stakeholders in the Group of Governmental Experts discussions on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

    KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), expressing his country’s commitment to all of the main disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, said he was disappointed to note that the enlargement process at the Conference on Disarmament had been stalled for almost two decades.  Its expansion would give a “new impetus to its work”, he said.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent actions, he called for cooperation and inclusiveness in the pursuit of common goals.  For that reason, Cyprus supported the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was examining the possibility of acceding to it, he said, expressing a commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

    CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, said multilateralism, based on universal rules and values was the most effective way to address common security challenges, manage shared disarmament responsibilities and devise collective non-proliferation initiatives.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing activities underscored the urgency of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the importance of the Test-Ban Treaty, she said, reaffirming Portugal’s support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme and for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which remained the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.  She also expressed support for the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the joint OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism in Syria, Arms Trade Treaty and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

    KHALED ALMANZALAWIY (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He regretted to note Israel’s rejection of efforts to create a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East and the failure of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Emphasizing the importance of Iran’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said sanctions should be swiftly reapplied in the case of any violations.  He reaffirmed, however, the right of all countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards.  Calling for the implementation of conventions on biological and chemical weapons, he said accountability must be ensured for parties who had used chemical agents in Syria.  Other important issues included keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorists’ hands, activate national programmes to combat the illicit trade in small arms and ensuring outer space was used for peaceful purposes.

    NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, affirmed the importance of all three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Nuclear disarmament should remain a top priority.  Reiterating the call on nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with their obligations to accomplish the immediate, total, verified elimination of such arms, he said any further development of them contradicted that goal.  All non-nuclear-weapon States must be provided with unconditional assurances against the use or threat of such arms.  Reiterating support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, universal accession to the Test-Ban Treaty, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said all States must comply with international humanitarian law.  No initiatives aimed at increasing safety, however, should be used as a pretext to restrict developing countries’ rights to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he said, calling for the removal of restrictions on importing related material.

    BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said existing nuclear arsenals and threats by nuclear-weapon States and by terrorists continued to grow and proliferate.  Meanwhile, some Member States, including those on the Security Council, were using terrorism as a political weapon.  The United States and the United Kingdom, which were absent from the 2015 Review Conference, had persisted in defending Israel and its continued possession of nuclear weapons.  Other Western States had encouraged Israel to defy international opinion and not accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, calling on all Member States to help establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

    Turning to the issue of chemical weapons, he firmly condemned the crime of using such arms.  Syria had acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and had honoured all its commitments.  Nevertheless, terrorist groups had obtained toxic chemical substances with the aid of intelligence services, sponsored by some States that were giving them orders to use such chemicals with the goal of accusing the Government of Syria.  The truth must come to light, he urged, adding that his delegation had sent letters expressing such fears to the Secretary-General, Security Council and Joint Investigative Mechanism and other stakeholders.

    YERBOLAT SEMBAYEV (Kazakhstan) said that given current tensions, disarmament and peace must be pursued in parallel and based in mutual trust.  Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were main foreign policy priorities, he said, expressing deep concerns that nuclear-weapon States were not fulfilling their Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations.   Those States must further reduce arsenals until they were fully eliminated, he urged, adding that nuclear weapons were no longer an asset, but a danger.  Further, nuclear-weapon-free zones played an important role in regional stability and every effort must be made to create such areas around the world, he said.  The early entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty was in the basic interest of all, as was negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Also critical was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the upcoming meeting on the Biological Weapons Convention.

    RAUF ALP DENKTAŞ (Turkey) said the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture was being challenged by the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria at a time of growing polarization in the area of nuclear disarmament.  Highlighting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as an example of the success of multilateral diplomacy in advancing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s objectives, he said Turkey was fully committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Recognizing the lack of an “easy shortcut” to a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, he said Turkey strongly supported the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and would not support any action that could undermine it.  At the same time, Turkey attached great importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as the use of such weapons constituted a crime against humanity.  To prevent the use of such weapons, the international community must ensure that there was no impunity for perpetrators.

    Mr. ALTIDJU (Cameroon) said the international threat posed by the use of nuclear weapons remained high and the non-proliferation regime was not yet complete.  On the issue of conventional weapons, he said small arms and light weapons fed armed violence in Cameroon, which was committed to the idea that the efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world must be expanded in all areas, including chemical, biological, conventional and ballistic missile proliferation.  Yet, for developing countries like Cameroon, a priority was controlling small arms and light weapons and addressing the threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism.  Efforts to silence guns by 2020 would be helped by the entry into force of the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and All Parts and Components That Can Be Used for Their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention).  Among other concerns, Boko Haram remained a serious regional threat despite collective efforts among the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, he said, asking for the international community’s assistance and “solidarity” in coping with that terrorist group.

    JOHN KHOO WEI EN (Singapore), endorsing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed grave concern over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the looming risks of a radiological attack by terrorists and non-State actors.  Earlier in 2017, regional authorities had made arrests in connection to a theft of iridium-192, a radioactive material used to make dirty bombs.  To counter such threats, national measures must be adopted and international cooperation intensified.  For its part, Singapore had passed a terrorism bill in May and ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism in August.

    JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed appreciation for the role of the United Nations in promoting stability in a number of regions.  He called for the universalization of the Test-Ban Treaty and for the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon-free zone in the region, urging Israel to submit its nuclear arsenal to IAEA safeguards.  He expressed support for Security Council sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but affirmed the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Speaking of the need to prevent the militarization of outer space, he said Bahrain was committed to working with other States toward that objective.

    JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented a milestone of hope and closed a legal gap by categorically banning those arms.  Inaction was not an option, he said, noting that the status quo would lead humanity close to its own annihilation.  Achieving strength through weapons was a false premise, he said, calling on States to accede to the new treaty.  Pointing to the scant progress in implementing Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he reminded nuclear‑weapon States that compliance in reducing their arsenals was compulsory.  Condemning nuclear-weapon States for spending billions of dollars on the continued development and modernization of their arsenals, he said such actions undermined the spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Ms. O’HALLORAN (Ireland), aligning himself with the European Union and the New Agenda Coalition, said the Nobel Peace Prize that had been awarded to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons had emphasized the urgency of the First Committee’s work.  The Korean situation, in addition, had demonstrated the urgency of Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force, she said, calling on all remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the instrument.  Further, momentum must be regained on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and other States should follow Ireland’s example in swiftly acceding to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Expressing grave concern at the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria, she welcomed the recent announcement by the Russian Federation of the verifiable destruction of their arsenal.  Expressing support for all international instruments designed to minimize harm from conventional weapons, she raised several concerns, emphasizing that compliance with international humanitarian law must be strengthened in the matter of explosive weapons in populated areas.  She finally affirmed the importance of the participation of civil society, women and representatives of least-developed countries.

    Ms. ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) raised concerns about the reckless actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and called for greater pressure on that country, especially through better sanctions implementation.  Canada remained unconvinced that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be effective, she said, adding that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone for progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Emphasizing that a fully implemented Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was in everyone’s interest, she called on Member States to consider making voluntary contributions to IAEA efforts to monitor and verify its implementation.  Voluntary measures that solidified international norms of behaviour were the most practical ways to develop confidence and transparency with regard to space security and the peaceful use of outer space.

    LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), condemning the nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country supported a range of disarmament measures and had subscribed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Raising several other concerns, she regretted to note that the Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered into force.  For its part, Panama placed great importance on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was a member of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, lending support to all efforts to achieve related goals.  Disarmament was a fundamental component of development, not only to peace and security, she said, expressing support for taking a multidimensional view of security while considering human rights and development.

    DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), underscoring the importance of the General Assembly’s convening of a high-level conference on nuclear disarmament in 2018, said establishing nuclear-weapon-free-zones was a critical step towards giving disarmament genuine meaning.  Nuclear weapons could never be a useful deterrent and a legally binding instrument regarding negative security assurances by nuclear-weapon States would be an important step towards disarmament.  Noting that the worldwide humanitarian and development impacts of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had reached a menacing proportion, he said regional mechanisms could play greater roles in promoting non-proliferation, general disarmament and confidence-building measures.  In addition, United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament should be further strengthened and funded.

    Mr. MANITAH (Jordan), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Alignment Movement, said Member States must ensure that the First Committee’s work proceeded fruitfully.  The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would enable progress in the disarmament process, he said, calling on States to sign and ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  On that latter instrument, he recalled the need for Israel to join it and allow the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Countries needed nuclear energy for sustainable development purposes and such endeavours must be subjected to IAEA safety and security standards.  Jordan had been among the first countries to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty, he said, calling on States to follow suit.  Citing several merging concerns, he said accelerated progress in technology had created a need for creating a mechanism that would stop terrorism in cyberspace and prevent militarization of outer space.

    GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, which constituted a threat to global peace and security.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had demonstrated that a very complex issue could be resolved through diplomatic means, he said, encouraging all parties to continue to strictly abide by its terms.  A world without nuclear weapons would not be achieved by simply prohibiting them, he said, underscoring that progress was only possible within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Bulgaria also fully supported the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW fact-finding mission.

    MARCIN WRÓBLEWSKI (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, said despite different views on the pace of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s implementation commitments, all States parties shared its objectives.  Poland’s chairmanship of the Preparatory Conference for the 2020 Review Conference would therefore focus on upholding the instrument’s integrity and credibility, creating the environment for an open, inclusive, mutually respectful and transparent dialogue, and ensuring that the meeting would be as efficient as possible and serve as a practical step towards the 2020 Review Conference.  Among other things, he voiced concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear test and urged that country to refrain from further provocative actions.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right to reply, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s military provocations spoke for themselves.  “No Government will sit back and wait” when its own security was at stake, she said, adding that “we will continue to speak out” until the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear programmes ended.  Any further provocation would be met by the entire global community.   The window of opportunity was closing, she said, emphasizing that the Republic of Korea was committed to a peaceful resolution of the issue.

    The representative of Syria said the United Kingdom should allow the Scottish people to express their right to independence, to leave the colony of Gibraltar and to resolve its problems with the European Union and focus on their internal problems instead of interfering with other countries.  Asking the United Kingdom to apologize for the invasion of Iraq, he emphasized that, in the twenty‑first century, that country still occupied territories.

    The representative of the United States said evidence had shown the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Using chemical weapons by any party in Syria violated international norms and standards and was a serious concern for the entire international community.  The United States must protect its national interests and act as necessary to protect victims.

    The representative of Qatar rejected accusations from his counterpart from Syria.  The Syrian regime had used chemicals as weapons in the battlefield and on civilians, as multiple United Nations reports had shown.

    The representative of Libya said his country no longer had any kind of usable chemical weapons.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated his country’s position on maintaining nuclear deterrence.

    The representative of Turkey said he categorically denied the allegations made by his Syrian counterpart.  The use of chemical weapons was a crime against humanity and a war crime and those responsible must be held accountable.

    The representative of Syria said the regime in Saudi Arabia had spent millions of dollars to finance terrorist groups in Syria, and Qatar was a known sponsor of terrorism.  Responding to the delegate of the United States, he recalled that according to WikiLeaks documents, secret messages had been exchanged between the Department of State and the United States ambassador in Damascus concerning a regime change.  For its part, Syria had implemented all provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    The representative of Saudi Arabia said his counterpart from Syria was shirking his responsibility.  Syria had failed to comply with Security Council resolutions, he said, adding that the fifth report of the Joint Investigative Mechanism had proven the Syrian regime’s responsibility for three chemical attacks.  He appealed to the international community to stand side by side with the Syrian people and to hold accountable those who had committed crimes against them.

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  • Fearing Nuclear Stand-off on Korean Peninsula, First Committee Speakers Suggest Fresh Approaches to Global Security Governance

    Amid fears of a nuclear stand-off, several speakers addressing the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today drew attention to the danger of reaching a “point of no return”, and recommended ways to diffuse tensions.

    The situation on the Korean Peninsula remained at the forefront of discussions, with several delegates, including the Republic of Korea’s representative, denouncing recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Such reckless provocations posed the gravest threat to the global non‑proliferation regime and to international peace and security, he said, adding that it must be stopped before crossing the point of no return.

    Others rejected the “false equivalency” that had been drawn between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities and those of nuclear‑weapon States.  The United Kingdom’s delegate, also speaking for France and the United States, underscored that there was no comparison between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea illegal weapons of mass destruction programmes and the long-standing joint activities of nuclear‑weapon States with allies, which were transparent and defensive in nature.

    He went on to say that the current sanctions and “pressure campaign” was aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and not at regime change or an accelerated reunification with the Republic of Korea.  The credibility of the global security architecture, particularly the non‑proliferation regime, would be at stake if the scale of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea today was overlooked, he stressed.

    Meanwhile, China’s speaker condemned a “certain big Power”, which had continued to increase its military expenditure in pursuit of its own absolute security.  Such new challenges called for a fresh approach to security governance, he said, adding that multilateralism could be truly achieved when the big Powers were kept on an “even keel”. 

    Defending his country’s nuclear weapons programme, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it had chosen to possess nuclear weapons to confront the United States’ hostile policy and continued threats.  Moreover, it had no intention of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against any other country.

    Other speakers provided examples of how to de-escalate conflict.  Haiti’s delegate said the peace agreement in Colombia had served as an example to others, demonstrating that violence did not always settle disputes.  Elaborating on that brokered peace, Colombia’s speaker said that after decades of fighting, talks between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP) had triggered a massive surrendering of weapons, which now no longer threatened its citizens.

    Several speakers also highlighted the role of women in disarmament, with representatives of Spain and Trinidad and Tobago emphasizing the importance of the women, peace and security agenda.  The issue was particularly pertinent as women played a crucial role in addressing violence in their communities, stressed the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, while the delegate of the United Arab Emirates asked for a major gender mainstreaming in all disarmament and international security measures.

    Also delivering statements today were representatives of Angola, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Libya, Nicaragua, Sudan, Ghana, Botswana, New Zealand and Maldives.

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

    The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 9 October, to continue its debate on all disarmament and related international security questions.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Statements

    MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), Chair of the First Committee, commended the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He also recognized the contribution of the First Committee in convening in 2017 the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

    MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom), also speaking on behalf of France and the United States, addressed a range of concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, which were destabilizing the strategic situation in East Asia and challenging norms established by the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Tightening sanctions aimed at reducing available resources to support its related weapons programmes and impeding its ability to acquire key technologies were meant to convince the Government to abandon its prohibited activities, not to punish its people or economy.

    He rejected any false equivalency between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s illegal weapons of mass destruction programmes and the long-standing joint activities with allies, which were transparent and defensive in nature.  The “pressure campaign” was aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not at regime change or an accelerated reunification with the Republic of Korea, he said.  Calling on countries to use all available leverage to compel the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its destructive path, he said the Security Council resolution obligations of Member States were the floor, and not the ceiling, of what nations could be doing.  The credibility of the global security architecture, particularly the non‑proliferation regime, would be at stake if the scale of the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea today was overlooked.

    CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said the work of the First Committee had been complicated by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the only country that had conducted nuclear tests in the twenty‑first century.  Such reckless provocations posed the gravest threat to the global non‑proliferation regime and to international peace and security, he said, adding that it must be stopped before crossing the point of no return.  Should it change course, the Republic of Korea stood ready to help it build a brighter future.  The world was far from being free from nuclear weapons and practical measures were needed.  As a country under constant threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it was only logical for it to support a progressive approach to nuclear disarmament based on the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Further, the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty and the early launch of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off convention should be a priority.

    ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the international community should give priority to nuclear disarmament and emphasize the need for concrete measures that would reflect its commitment to the complete elimination of such arms, in accordance with the obligations of the nuclear‑weapon States under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Such efforts should culminate in the complete, non‑discriminatory and multilaterally verifiable ban on nuclear weapons, as was the case with Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

    KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, raised a number of security concerns, including the worsening of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which required a diplomatic solution, and terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) operating in the Middle East, Europe, North America and other regions.  For its part, Georgia’s law enforcement agencies had detected attempts to smuggle nuclear and radioactive materials through territory currently under foreign occupation and were now working to promote integrated regional approaches.  In fact, the Russian Federation’s military presence in Georgia’s occupied territories continued to build up, hindering efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict.  To tackle some current weapons-related challenges, he expressed support for instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty, Chemical Weapons Convention and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia), emphasizing that conventional weapons caused the highest number of casualties worldwide, called for stricter controls to prevent their illicit trafficking.  For its part, talks between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP) had triggered a massive surrendering of weapons, which now no longer threatened its citizens, he said, expressing hope for broad support in the Committee for the draft resolution on small arms and light weapons, which his country had co‑sponsored.  After decades of conflict, Colombia was making progress in areas such as demining.  On global security, he condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing and hailed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a milestone in disarmament history that would contribute to peace and security.  He expressed support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and highlighted progress in implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), notably the peer review exercise involving Colombia and Chile.

    WANG QUN (China) said global strategic stability was being eroded, as a “certain big Power” had continued to increase its military expenditure in pursuit of its own absolute security.  Such new challenges called for a fresh approach to security governance, he said, adding that multilateralism could be truly achieved when the big Powers were kept on an “even keel”.  The United Nations needed to play a key role in the multilateral disarmament machinery, demonstrated by recent positive outcomes from the Disarmament Commission and the Open‑ended Working Group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  The multilateral disarmament machinery was not outdated, but should be revitalized instead of “starting up new kitchens”.  Turning to other issues, he said China had contributed to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, in cooperation with the United Nations, and had made efforts for a negotiated settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.  China’s priorities included cybersecurity, the peaceful use of outer space, and providing humanitarian and demining assistance.

    AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled his country’s long record of opposing nuclear weapons, including its support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Having experienced a decades-long conflict in the past, Sri Lanka recognized the senseless destruction small arms and light weapons caused and had established a national commission to address their proliferation and illicit trade.  While Sri Lanka agreed in principle with similar international measures dealing on the latter, he stressed the importance of ensuring that those activities did not affect States’ rights to legally procure and possess such weapons for their self-defence.

    RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, condemned threats certain States were making to destroy other countries, calling for a firm commitment to put into practice relevant non‑proliferation instruments.  He called upon nuclear‑weapon States to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adding that the total elimination of such arms was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use.  Unconditional legally binding guarantees must be honoured, military doctrines of nuclear‑weapon States must be removed and Non‑Proliferation Treaty principles must be observed, including the sovereign right of States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The prevention of an arms race in outer space was also a priority on the disarmament agenda, he said, emphasizing that the Russian-Chinese proposal was a good start.  Congratulating the Russian Federation for the destruction of its last stockpiles of chemical weapons, he emphasized that multilateralism was the most effective path toward disarmament.

    ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities were in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions, posing grave threats to global international security.  Underscoring the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s role as the foundation to promote nuclear disarmament, he welcomed the constructive atmosphere of the preparatory committee of the instrument’s 2020 Review Conference.  As a non‑nuclear‑weapon State, Spain appealed to countries with higher stockpiles to move toward the objective of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.  However, Spain disagreed with the approach taken by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as the international community needed to promote a process that considered nuclear‑weapon States’ security issues.  The first step should be the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, including the remaining eight Annex 2 countries.  Turning to the issue of gender perspective in disarmament, he remarked on the low number of women in the First Committee, adding that Spain was proud to be among countries leading the women, peace and security agenda.

    JALAL ALJAEDI (Libya), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said national efforts included enforcing provisions of international treaties and conventions with a view to eliminating weapons of mass destruction.  Calling on nuclear‑weapon States to work towards eliminating their arsenals, he welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and urged countries to sign it.  He expressed disappointment that no agreement had been reached on establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.  For its part, Libya had destroyed all its chemical weapons in cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  On regional concerns, he said multilateral cooperation and Syria’s political will were fundamental in achieving peace and to achieve the goals of disarmament.

    JASSER JIMÉNEZ (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that more was spent on weapons today and less on development.  For its part, Nicaragua had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was committed to the idea that the only guarantee to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction was their total elimination.  Nuclear‑weapon‑free zones contributed to strengthening international peace and security, he said, regretting to note the failure to create such a zone in the Middle East.  Highlighting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was a legally binding international instrument for disarmament, he called on nuclear‑weapon States to fully comply with the instrument’s provisions.  Turning to the issue of illicit arms trade, he said Nicaragua had been proclaimed as “safe and impenetrable” to organized crime, drug and arms trafficking, with the United Nations placing it among the six safest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said his country was an active disarmament partner, having joined the Test‑Ban Treaty in 2004 and led efforts towards establishing the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).  Progress must be made on creating such a zone in the Middle East and all nuclear facilities in the region should submit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, especially Israel.  Turning to conventional weapons concerns, he said Sudan had suffered from their spread, with further complications stemming from environmental factors, which had led to some tribes arming themselves to protect their resources.  For its part, Sudan was trying to stem the illicit flows, but such initiatives required a commitment from manufacturing countries, who should refrain from exporting them to non‑State entities.  Sudan had also undertaken demining efforts and hoped to declare all eastern states mine-free by December 2017.

    PATRICK SAINT-HILAIRE (Haiti), associating with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called for sustained efforts to control the arms trade and for all States to show political will to peacefully settle disputes.  The peace agreement in Colombia had served as an example to others, demonstrating that violence did not always settle disputes.  The production, circulation and the use of increasingly destructive weapons compromised the chances for international peace and security, he said, stressing that conventional weapons greatly affected developing countries, disrupted public order and led to criminal activities.  Calling on the international community to work to stem the circulation of those weapons, he said Haiti was already taking steps to address that issue.  Condemning recent nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, he called on all Member States to shoulder their responsibilities with respect to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    FRED FRIMPONG (Ghana), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concerns about the current state of the disarmament machinery, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had been continuously subjected to reinterpretations and the first preparatory committee meeting for its 2020 Review Conference had failed to reach consensus on an outcome document.  The latter situation constituted a lack of good faith by some Member States in their commitments towards nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament.  Turning to small arms and light weapons, he highlighted Ghana’s demonstrated commitment to reducing their proliferation and misuse through its destruction of more than 1,300 illegal weapons in 2016 and its ongoing crackdown on local gun manufacturing and trafficking activities.

    CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, urged the international community to work in unison and take prompt, decisive action to ensure that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea adhered to the values and principles of the United Nations Charter.  He also reiterated a concern about the lack of progress in achieving a world free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  “This status quo can be attributed in part to reluctance and non‑cooperation by some Member States which possess such weapons and regard them as an integral part of their strategic defence architecture,” he said, urging such States to listen to the concerns of the majority and “march in step” with them.  Botswana supported the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones that would bind Member States to reject nuclearization in their respective regions and supported the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

    DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) expressed regret that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to live up to its mandate, particularly since it had been a key actor in previous decades.  However, the desire to make some contribution to safeguarding humanity had been the motivating factor for a large grouping of Member States that had negotiated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  That motivation had been the impetus behind New Zealand’s signature, she said, noting that while it did not expect the instrument to result in a significant short-term change to the normative situation against nuclear weapons, the signatories had taken a first step in the interest of humanity that advanced global security.  As a strong advocate of multilateralism and the rule of law, New Zealand would continue to support efforts to adopt and implement new norms to safeguard humanity.

    PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), aligning herself with CARICOM, said amid a growing movement against nuclear weapons — within the United Nations and with awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — her Government looked forward to signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Turning to other concerns, she said small arms and light weapons posed great threats to Trinidad and Tobago and were often referred to as the Caribbean’s weapons of mass destruction.  While committed to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the Arms Trade Treaty, she regretted to note that the United Nations had not been able to include language on ammunition in relevant instruments.  Highlighting Trinidad and Tobago’s role at the forefront of including women and disarmament in international security issues, she said women played a crucial role in addressing violence in their communities.  Referring to an emerging concern, she warned their vulnerability could lead to conflicts in post‑hurricane environments.

    LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, reaffirmed a commitment to support dialogue for establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, calling on Israel to join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  On Iran’s continued nuclear activities, she stressed the need for its full cooperation with IAEA.  The Test‑Ban Treaty was the primary platform for deterring nuclear testing, she said, expressing deep concern that it had not yet entered into force and urging States to maintain the moratorium on tests.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities, she urged it to respect its international obligations.  More broadly, she emphasized the need for gender mainstreaming in disarmament and international security measures.

    FARZANA ZAHIR (Maldives), noting that her country had never produced weapons of any kind and had just adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said it may be far‑fetched to imagine achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, but it was possible.  Countries spending large amounts to develop nuclear weapons should put that money instead into social and economic development.  Strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, she appealed for redoubled efforts to prevent further tests and to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  She also welcomed the Security Council’s firm action and unity on the issue and its efforts to find a diplomatic solution.

    Mr. ROWLAND (United Kingdom) said the world was being confronted by States deliberately flouting the rules-based system for their own gain, including Syria’s use of chemical weapons and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons proliferation.  The current global security environment posed challenges, testing the common values, vision and resolve needed to defend the rules and standards that underpinned collective security and prosperity.  For its part, the United Kingdom had reduced its nuclear weapon capabilities and would continue to do so, he said, noting that it possessed approximately only 1 per cent of the total global stockpile.  As a responsible nuclear‑weapon State, it had been pursuing a step‑by‑step approach to disarmament consistent with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and its other convention commitments.

    However, he said, the United Kingdom had not taken part in negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and did not intend to sign, ratify or become party to it.  Nor could it accept any argument that the instrument constituted a development of customary international law binding the United Kingdom or other non‑parties.  The instrument failed to address the key issues that must be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament and would not improve the international security environment nor increase trust and transparency.  The current unpredictable international security environment demanded the maintenance of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future, he said, adding that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was at odds with the existing non‑proliferation and disarmament architecture and risked undermining the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Beyond nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom remained committed to the Arms Trade Treaty and was also committed to the goals of freeing the world of anti‑personnel mines.  He also said the future of international governance of outer space required the establishment of voluntary principles of responsible behaviour.

    JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said nuclear disarmament efforts required countries that possessed the largest arsenals to take the lead in dismantling them, rolling back aggressive nuclear doctrines and withdrawing nuclear weapons deployed outside their own territories.  While his Government agreed with the primary focus of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not in a position to accede while the United States continued to pose a nuclear threat against his country. 

    Recalling how the United States had introduced nuclear weapons to the Republic of Korea in 1957, he said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to confront the United States’ hostile policy and continued threats, while holding its strategic line of parallel development of its nuclear forces and national economy.  The United States was the only country in the world that had massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians by using nuclear weapons in a real war.  Furthermore, it had attempted to suffocate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by instituting all sorts of systematic measures of discrimination and sanctions.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula had been created by the United States, he said, adding that his Government had no intention of using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against any other country.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right to reply, responded to comments made during the debate.  The United Kingdom’s regime had called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear deterrence a threat to the world peace and security, when it was really for self‑defence, to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and to defend itself from the United States, he said.  To the Republic of Korea’s speaker, he said the issue of the Korean Peninsula “is an issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States”.

    The representative of Syria said the United Kingdom was one of the major terrorist exporters to his country.  British colonialism brought disaster, sabotage, arms and intelligence to terrorists in the entire region.  British policy was poisonous and the United Kingdom was no longer a “super‑Power”, but a follower of another State.

    The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was fooling no one with its rhetoric.  The United States posed no threat to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, and asked that country to comply with Security Council obligations.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a choice either to take the path to peace and cooperation or to choose belligerence and cause further suffering to its people.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was portraying itself as a victim when it was the threat itself.  Multiple Security Council resolutions had been adopted unanimously, including all five permanent members, and States had condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions year after year in all international forums.  The Republic of Korea had more than enough reasons to make its northern neighbour stop its negative actions, she said, calling on countries to focus on playing a constructive role in solving the crisis.

    The representative from the United Kingdom said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a threat to international peace and security, as could be heard from speakers in the Security Council and in the First Committee.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, condemning reckless remarks by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea, said the United States had misled the public with its fraudulent claim that sanctions were aimed at reaching a peaceful solution.  The issue was between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, he said, calling on the United Kingdom to end its cooperation with the United States.

    The representative of the United States said that despite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea claims that the issue was between their countries, it was also an international issue, reflected in repeated condemnations by numerous Member States and Security Council resolutions.

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  • Joint Statement 14th India-EU Summit, New Delhi, 6 October 2017

    European Commission – Statement

    Brussels, 6 October 2017

    1. The 14th annual Summit between India and the European Union (EU) was held in New Delhi on 6 October 2017. The Republic of India was represented by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The EU was represented by Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
    1. The leaders reviewed the wide-ranging cooperation under the India-EU Strategic Partnership. Recognising that India and the EU are natural partners, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and territorial integrity of States.
    1. The leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress made towards implementing the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 – the roadmap for bilateral cooperation endorsed during the 13th India-EU Summit.
    1. The leaders committed to work in a result-oriented and mutually beneficial manner to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership by deepening their trade cooperation, enhancing investment flows in both directions and broadening dialogue and engagement on global and regional issues, including climate change, as well as migration and the refugee crisis, and resolved to further strengthen their bilateral and multilateral cooperation in these areas.
    1. The leaders commended the strong engagement of the European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of key sectors, in particular in the field of climate action and renewable energy.
    1. The leaders underlined the importance of regular high level contacts to enhance India-EU co-operation and mutual understanding. They noted the fruitful outcome of the India-EU Foreign Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi on 21 April 2017.

    Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation – Partners for Security

    1. They agreed that India and the EU, as the world’s largest democracies, share a desire to work closely together and with all relevant players to support a rules-based international order that upholds agreed international norms, global peace and stability, and encourages inclusive growth and sustainable development in all parts of the inter-connected and multipolar world. They welcomed the growing convergence on contemporary global issues and agreed to enhance India-EU cooperation in all multilateral fora. They also recognised their common responsibility towards ensuring international peace and security, and an open and inclusive international order.
    1. The leaders confirmed their commitment towards conflict prevention and sustaining peace as fundamental aspects of promoting security and prosperity, fostering non-proliferation and disarmament, and agreed on the need for the global community to unite to address the menace of terrorism and safeguard the security of the global commons – sea lanes, cyber space and outer space. They welcomed the 5th India-EU Foreign Policy and Security Consultations held in New Delhi on 25 August 2017 – a platform to further deepen cooperation in the political and security area.
    1. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyberspace, enabling economic growth and innovation. In particular, the leaders reaffirmed that International Law is applicable in cyberspace, and that there was a need to continue and deepen deliberations on the applicability of International Law to cyberspace and set norms of responsible behaviour of States. The leaders welcomed the holding of the 5th Global Conference on Cyberspace in New Delhi on 23-24 November. The leaders noted that the bilateral Cyber Dialogue provided a strong foundation for existing and future cooperation and welcomed the holding of its latest round in New Delhi on 29 August this year, and the next India-EU Cyber Dialogue in Brussels in 2018.
    2. The leaders strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in many parts of the world, underlining their common concern about the global threat posed by terrorism and extremism. They adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism with a view to deepening their strategic and security cooperation, and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, based on a comprehensive approach. The leaders resolved to step up cooperation through regular bilateral consultations and in international fora. In this context, they welcomed the India-EU Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism on 30 August 2017 in New Delhi, and the joint commitment to explore opportunities to, inter alia, share information, best practices, including regarding countering the on-line threat of radicalisation, and to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops. They also emphasised the need to deepen cooperation within the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    3. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening global non-proliferation efforts as highlighted at the India-EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Dialogue in New Delhi on 18 July 2017. The EU congratulated India on its admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The EU welcomed India’s subscription to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) and noted India’s intensified engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, which strengthens global non-proliferation efforts.
    4. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to enhance maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Both sides noted the recent joint manoeuvres (PASSEX) between the EU Naval Force and the Indian Navy off the coast of Somalia, as a successful example of naval cooperation. The EU looks forward to India’s possible participation in escorting World Food Program vessels in the near future. They also underlined the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of International Law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. Both leaders attached importance to the security, stability, connectivity and sustainable development of Oceans and Seas in the context of developing the “blue economy”.
    5. Both sides agreed to enhance the India-EU space cooperation, including Earth observation.
    6. India and the EU reiterated the importance they attach to human rights cooperation, including on gender equality and women empowerment in all spheres of life. In this regard, they looked forward to the next session of their dialogue to be held in New Delhi and supported enhancing interaction in international fora, in particular the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.
    7. The two sides expressed support to the Government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national peace and reconciliation. The two sides remain determined to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, considering them fundamental threats to international peace and stability. India and the EU underline the importance of the regional and key international stakeholders to respect, support and promote a political process and its outcome in order to ensure peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan. The EU appreciated the positive role being played by India in extending development assistance in Afghanistan, including for building social and economic infrastructure, governance institutions and human resource development and capacity building. Both sides reconfirmed their commitment to promoting peace, security, and stability and supporting Afghanistan on its development path to become a self-reliable and prosperous state.
    8. India and the EU expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the state, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh. Both sides took note that this violence was triggered off by a series of attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants which led to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population. Both sides recognised the need for ending the violence and restoring normalcy in the Rakhine state without any delay. They urged the Myanmar authorities to implement the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations and work with Bangladesh to enable the return of the displaced persons from all communities to Northern Rakhine State. India and the EU also recognised the role being played by Bangladesh in extending humanitarian assistance to the people in need.
    9. India and the EU reaffirmed their support for the continued full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Iranian nuclear issue. They recognised confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is complying with its nuclear-related JCPOA commitments. India and the EU called for the full and effective implementation of the deal, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and is a crucial contribution to the non-proliferation framework and international peace, stability and security.
    10. Both sides condemned the nuclear test conducted by DPRK on 3 September 2017, which was another direct and unacceptable violation of the DPRK’s international commitments. They agreed that DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and security, and called for the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which has been endorsed by the UNSC and the Six Party Talks. Both sides stressed the responsibility of those who support DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes. They also stressed the importance of unity of the international community in addressing this challenge, ensuring that all UNSC sanctions are fully implemented by the entire international community, so as to maximize pressure towards achieving a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.
    11. Regarding the situation in Syria, India and the EU reaffirmed the primacy of the UN-led Geneva process and called for full support for the intra-Syrian talks with a view to promoting a political solution in Syria. Protection of civilians and territorial integrity is fundamental and all parties to the conflict and their supporters are expected to live up to their commitments. India and the EU reaffirmed that only a credible political solution, as defined in UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué will ensure the stability of Syria and enable a decisive defeat of Da’esh and other UN-designated terrorist groups in Syria. India and the EU agreed that the second Brussels Conference on Syria in spring 2018 will contribute to sustain international commitment to Syria.
    12. On the Middle East Peace Process, India and the EU reiterated calls on parties to engage constructively so that a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution, could be achieved on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, for peace and stability in the Middle East.
    13. The two sides also reiterated their full support to the UN facilitated Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process to forge a lasting solution to the political crisis in Libya. Establishing an inclusive government and building peace and stability in Libya is in the interest of the entire international community.
    14. India and the EU acknowledged the importance of connectivity in today’s globalised world. They underlined that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality and must follow principles of financial responsibility, accountable debt financing practices, balanced ecological and environmental protection, preservation standards and social sustainability.
    15. Both sides underlined the importance of ASEM as an informal platform for connecting Asia and Europe. Both sides also agreed to give new impetus to ASEM in the run up to the next ASEM Summit to be hosted in Brussels, where the focus would be on tackling global challenges together.
    16. The leaders underlined their strong support for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
    17. The EU hoped for a swift solution, through the due process of law in India, in the case of MV Seaman Guard Ohio, which concerns fourteen Estonian and six British citizens sentenced to prison by an Indian court.

      Global Challenges – Multilateral Cooperation

    18. Both sides reaffirmed their support to the new United Nations reform agenda on the three reform tracks of peace and security, development and management reform. The two sides’ commitment to stronger global governance also translates to reforming the bodies and organs of the UN system, including the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council as well as the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly, better aligning the work of its committees with the 2030 Agenda.
    19. The two sides agreed to work bilaterally and with partners in the G20, the United Nations and other multilateral fora to address emerging challenges to international security, global economic stability and growth.
    20. The leaders reaffirmed the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and the importance of enhancing free, fair, and open trade for achieving sustainable growth and development. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together with all Members of the WTO to make the eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference a success with concrete results, which would reaffirm the centrality of the rules-based multilateral trading system and its importance for open and inclusive global trade.
    21. Both sides recalled the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the joint commitment to its implementation with the complementary new EU Consensus on Development and India’s “sab kasaath, sab kavikas” policy initiatives, and reaffirmed the importance of global partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and poverty alleviation. In this regard, they reiterated their commitment to collaborate on common priorities and looked forward to exploring the continuation of the EU-India Development Dialogue. Both sides also recognised the need to mutually reinforce the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
    22. The EU welcomed India’s contribution to peace and development in Africa, including its participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions. The EU and India expressed their commitment to enhancing their consultations and cooperation regarding Africa, with a view to optimising possible synergies between their respective initiatives. They looked forward to India’s participation as an observer at the next EU-African Union Summit.

      Partners in Prosperity through Increased Trade and Economic Cooperation; Partners in India’s Modernisation

    23. The EU leaders welcomed India’s efforts to promote economic and social development and expressed the EU’s continued interest in participating in India’s flagship initiatives such as “Make in India”, “Digital India”, “Skill India”, “Smart City”, “Clean India,” and “Start-Up India”. The EU closely follows Prime Minister Modi’s economic reforms, including the historic introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which can facilitate ease of doing business and promotes market integration in India by realising a simple, efficient and nation-wide indirect tax system. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the ongoing participation by EU companies in the flagship initiatives and called for their deeper engagement in India’s developmental priorities. The EU side encouraged the greater participation of Indian business organizations into the Enterprise Europe Network. The leaders noted the progress made on EU-India cooperation on resource efficiency and circular economy. Both sides agreed to enhanced cooperation and exchange of experience and best practices in the field of Intellectual Property rights (IPR) and public procurement.
    24. The Leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the Economic Partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
    25. Both parties recognised the importance of trade in agricultural products in general, and rice in particular, and agreed to work together to resolve issues that have the potential of disrupting trade. With regard to import tolerance level of tricyclazole in rice (Commission Regulation (EU) 2017 / 983) the relevant plant protection companies will be invited to present new scientific data in order for the European Food Safety Authority to carry out an additional risk assessment without delay. On this basis, the European Commission would expeditiously consider whether to review the above mentioned Regulation. Both sides supported the early institutionalisation of cooperation between the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to focus on exchange of knowledge and expertise in the area of methodologies for data collection, risk assessment and risk communication. Furthermore, the EU and India have agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on food safety, notably by:
      • Strengthening existing dialogues like Agricultural and Marine Working Group, SPS-TBT Working Group to cover issues on food safety and agricultural trade between the relevant Indian ministries/departments and relevant European Commission services.
      • Initiating joint projects in areas such as good agricultural practices, development of traceability capacities, and cooperation in laboratory activities, including testing and monitoring.

      The EU would welcome India’s application for protection as a geographical indication of Basmati and shall process any such future application, as expeditiously as possible.

      India welcomes EU’s intention to expeditiously initiate the process of recognising additional seed varieties of Basmati rice under Article 28 of the GATT 1994 for duty derogation, as already requested by India.

    26. Leaders welcomed the establishment of an Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) for EU investments in India as a means to improve the business climate and hoped that the IFM will ease sharing of best practices and innovative technology from the EU to India. Leaders acknowledged that the “Make in India” initiative may offer investment opportunities for companies based in the EU Member States.
    27. Leaders welcomed the establishment of the South Asian Regional Representative Office of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in India and noted that its investments, especially in urban mobility and renewable energy projects, will support India-EU collaboration on the Climate Agenda. The leaders welcomed the new €500 million EIB loan agreement for Bangalore Metro Phase-II Project, which is part of EIBs enhanced commitment of €1.4 billion in loans to India in 2017.
    28. The leaders noted the ongoing positive discussions and the exchange of a Joint Declaration between the Interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and the European Investment Bank (EIB) aimed at mobilising investments for broad-based deployment of affordable solar energy applications across the 121 prospective member countries of the ISA.
    29. Both sides adopted a Joint Statement on Clean Energy and Climate Change, reaffirmed their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, and agreed to co-operate further to enhance its implementation. India and the EU noted that addressing climate change and promoting secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy are key shared priorities and welcomed the progress on the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, adopted at the 2016 EU-India Summit, and reiterated their commitment to its implementation and further development, in accordance with the work programme agreed at the EU-India Energy Panel meeting in October 2016.
    30. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to undertake mutual cooperation for reducing the cost of development and deployment of renewable energy projects through technology innovation, knowledge sharing, capacity building, trade and investment, and project establishment.
    31. The leaders reiterated the importance of reconciling economic growth and environment protection. They highlighted the importance of moving towards a more circular economic model that reduces primary resource consumption and enhanced the use of secondary raw materials. They welcomed the contribution of the International Resource Panel, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (through the Indian Resource Panel) and of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) to developing strategies for this crucial economic transition. Both sides agreed that the newly established G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue will be an ideal platform for knowledge exchange and to jointly promote resource efficiency at a global level. Leaders also agreed to further intensify cooperation on addressing environmental challenges, such as water management and air pollution, acknowledged the progress in implementing the India-EU Water Partnership, including an agreed action programme, the increased cooperation opportunities on research and innovation, looking forward to the third India-EU Water Forum later in the month.
    32. The leaders agreed to work towards an enhanced cooperation on innovation and technology development aiming at actions strengthening cooperation between European and Indian industries and start-up ecosystems.
    33. The leaders welcomed the intensified technical cooperation between the Indian and European telecom standardisation bodies (TSDSI and ETSI), supported by the EU, and focusing on future global standards for 5G, Intelligent Transport Systems, Internet of Things, Future Networks and telecom security. Both sides encouraged the stakeholders to broaden this cooperation, demonstrate concrete technological solutions, and strengthen links between “Digital India” and “Digital Single Market for Europe.”
    34. Both sides noted positive exchanges on Internet Governance, on increasing the ease of doing business for ICT companies on both sides, as well as meetings between the Indian and European start-up ecosystems under a “Start-up Europe India Network”.
    35. The two sides confirmed their interest in further strengthening the cooperation in the area of pharmaceuticals, including capacity building of the regulatory system with particular focus on inspections by creating a more structured and stable training environment. The Indian side also highlighted its interest for cooperation on capacity building of the entire pharmaceutical value chain.
    36. The leaders adopted the India-EU Joint Statement on a Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanisation with a view to step up cooperation including with regard to priority sectors such as the upgrading of urban infrastructure for transport and sanitation, developing Smart Cities in India, as well as promoting the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations adopted in 2016.
    37. The leaders agreed to scale-up cooperation under the renewed India-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement in frontier areas of science and technology and in addressing current global challenges in particular in the areas of health, water and clean energy. They welcomed the agreement to launch a major joint flagship initiative of €30 million on water-related challenges reflecting the pressing need to cooperate on technological and scientific knowledge and management capacities to cope with increasing stress on water resources. Both sides agreed to work towards reciprocal opening of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon 2020’ and Indian programmes, and called for an intensified two-way mobility of researchers. To this extent, the two sides welcomed the conclusion of the Implementing Arrangement between the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the European Research Council (ERC).
    38. The leaders encouraged Euratom and the Department of Atomic Energy to conclude the Agreement for Research & Development Cooperation in the field of the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. They stressed that this cooperation will contribute to further enhancement of nuclear safety and will be mutually advantageous. The cooperation will also lead to improving the skills and deployment of non-power technologies in the areas of water, health care & medicine, environment, etc., for the benefit of the society.
    39. Both sides will continue their strong partnership in the development of fusion energy, building on the agreements to which they are parties, including under the Euratom-India Cooperation Agreement on Fusion Energy research.
    40. The Leaders welcomed the imminent operationalisation of the 2008 Horizontal Civil Aviation Agreement, which will enhance air connectivity between India and Europe and help foster greater people-to-people contacts, business travel and increase in tourism. The leaders considered the opportunity to deepen transport cooperation in areas of mutual interest across all modes of transport, notably maritime, aviation, urban mobility and, rail.
    41. India and the EU agreed to intensify cooperation in skills development and agreed to find complementarities and synergies between India’s Skill India initiative and the EU’s New Skills Agenda for Europe.
    42. The leaders emphasised that, as part of the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020, there was a need to work towards strengthening cooperation on higher-education, including through India’s GIAN programme and the EU’s Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus+ programme has just celebrated its 5000th Indian alumni and has offered financing opportunities for institutional cooperation to many Indian universities through joint-masters, short-term mobility, capacity building projects and Jean Monnet actions for EU studies. The leaders welcomed that, overall, India has been the number one beneficiary of Erasmus mobility actions in the world since its creation.
    43. The two sides took note of the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility held in Brussels on 04 April 2017. They welcomed the understanding reached in advancing the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, including through technical collaboration and undertaking projects in areas of mutual interest, with a view to better organising migration and mobility between India and the EU.
    44. The leaders agreed to intensify people-to-people exchanges and facilitate increased travel of tourists, business persons, students and researchers between India and the EU. The Indian side noted the ongoing revision of the EU Blue Card Scheme aimed at easing the flow of highly qualified professionals to the EU.
    45. The leaders noted the adoption of the report on “EU’s Political Relations with India” in the European Parliament and welcomed its recommendations for intensifying the exchanges between the Indian and European parliamentary delegations. The leaders also looked forward to intensified exchanges between scholars, think tanks and cultural delegations.

    ****

    STATEMENT/17/3743

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  • Inclusive, Step-by-Step Approach Must Drive Progress towards World Free of Nuclear Weapons, Delegates Tell High-Level General Assembly Meeting

    Against a backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, speakers in the General Assembly today emphasized the urgent need for firm political will to advance towards the total elimination of all nuclear weapons.

    Ministers and representatives of 46 Member States, delegations, the United Nations system and civil society took the floor during a day-long General Assembly high-level meeting held to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

    “The only world that is safe from the use of nuclear weapons is a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons,” said Secretary‑General António Guterres, recalling that nuclear disarmament had been a principled objective of the United Nations from the very first Assembly resolution in 1946 to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had opened for signature on 20 September.

    In opening remarks, he noted, however, that the universally held goal of disarmament had been challenged of late, including by a series of provocative nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Unequivocally condemning Pyongyang’s actions, he welcomed the Security Council’s firm response and its desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution.

    He went on to note significant steps by nuclear-weapon States — especially the Russian Federation and the United States — to cut back their arsenals.  However, subsequent expensive modernization campaigns and the absence of planned arsenal reductions made it hard to see how disarmament could move forward, he said.

    General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) described the Treaty as a sign of determination.  Pledging to do everything possible during his term in office to realize the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said discussions that had led to that instrument’s adoption should continue to ensure that all the differing views of Member States were properly addressed.

    In the ensuing debate, speakers underlined the humanitarian and environmental consequences of an accidental or deliberate detonation of nuclear weapons, with some highlighting how money spent on producing, maintaining and modernizing them could be better invested in sustainable development.

    Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, urged Member States to support the convening of an international conference on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations no later than 2018.  “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of proliferation exists”, emphasizing the need for a new comprehensive and systematic approach to disarmament, he said.

    Numerous delegates condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for violating international law and ignoring Security Council resolutions in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Many appealed for dialogue and a diplomatic solution, and for all sides to refrain from rhetoric that might inflame the situation.

    Japan’s delegate, recalling the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear tests were not only a grave and imminent threat, but also a challenge to the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

    Two of the five nuclear-weapon States shared their perspective, with China’s representative saying disarmament efforts must proceed in a step-by-step manner through existing mechanisms to ensure the participation of all countries.

    His counterpart from the Russian Federation, asserting that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had been developed in haste, said nuclear-weapon States had had good reasons for not attending the recent conference.  The instrument ignored the existing reality and the opinion of nuclear-weapon States, he said, noting that it should have been adopted by consensus instead of through a vote.  The focus now should be on creating a favourable atmosphere for progress towards disarmament on the principle of equal, indivisible security for all States without exception.

    Raising another concern, he voiced regret over recent attempts to torpedo the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, stressing that all parties should continue to implement the agreement in good faith.  The same approach must be taken with regard to the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the cause of which was not only Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons, but the absence of an overall security mechanism for the region as a whole, he said.

    Germany’s representative, underscoring his country’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said disarmament efforts could only succeed if they took the prevailing security environment into account.  With like-minded partners, Germany advocated a step-by-step approach, with the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the core of an effort that would include a fresh nuclear arms control agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States, which together controlled 90 per cent of the world’s estimated 15,000 nuclear weapons.

    The representative of South Africa, which had voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons programme, said there were “no safe hands” when it came to weapons of mass destruction.  He expressed deep concern about the catastrophic consequences of detonating atomic bombs, a point highlighted in three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

    Turning to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, several speakers appealed for the remaining Annex II countries that had yet to sign or ratify that instrument to do so.  Delegates from the Middle East, noting that Israel was not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, expressed frustration that a nuclear-weapon-free zone had yet to be established in the region.

    Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Guyana, Indonesia, Maldives, Iran, Philippines, Cuba, Algeria, Turkey, Thailand, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Austria, India, Costa Rica, United Republic of Tanzania, Jamaica, Libya, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Ecuador, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Argentina, Samoa, Guatemala, Ireland, Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Sweden, as well as the Holy See and the League of Arab States.  Also speaking were representatives of two civil society groups:  Basel Peace Office and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

    Iran took the floor in exercise of the right of reply.

    Opening Remarks

    MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said nuclear weapons were still part of our world, posing a real threat.  Since the General Assembly had adopted resolution 68/32  establishing the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, three tests had been conducted.  “One nuclear test was too many,” he said.  “Six nuclear tests in the twenty-first century were alarming.”

    Pointing at a recent change in dynamics, he recalled that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had opened for signature on 20 September and despite disagreements, it was a sign of determination.  Pledging to do everything in his power as Assembly President to realize the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said discussions that had led to that treaty’s adoption should continue to ensure that Member States’ different views were properly addressed.  In addition, he emphasized that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty should enter in force as soon as possible.

    ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that in recent months, the dangers posed by nuclear weapons had been forcefully driven home, making today’s high-level meeting timelier than ever before.  The horrific humanitarian and environmental consequences of their use would transcend national borders and every State had the right to demand the elimination of those uniquely destructive weapons.  Emphasizing that nuclear disarmament had been a principled objective of the United Nations for more than seven decades, from the very first General Assembly resolution to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said:  “The only world that is safe from the use of nuclear weapons is a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons.”

    While that goal was universally held, it had recently been challenged, he said, including by a series of provocative nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had heightened tensions and highlighted the dangers of proliferation.  Condemning those acts unequivocally, he welcomed the Security Council’s firm action and desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution.  He acknowledged significant efforts that nuclear-weapon States — especially the Russian Federation and the United States — had made to reduce their arsenals and the role of nuclear weapons in their security.  However, it was difficult to see how disarmament could make progress amid expensive modernization campaigns and the absence of planned arsenal reductions beyond the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).

    However, deep fissures remained between States over how to achieve nuclear disarmament, he said, underscoring that two decades of stagnation at the Conference on Disarmament were exacerbating those rifts.  Unhelpful rhetoric and misguided assertions did not help, either.  “We live in challenging circumstances, but this can be no excuse for walking away from our shared responsibility to seek a more peaceful international society,” he emphasized, adding that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would strengthen norms, but inclusive dialogue, renewed international cooperation and practical measures for irreversible, verifiable and universal disarmament were also needed.  “There are multiple pathways to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said, with States possessing them having a special responsibility to lead by taking concrete steps, including those agreed to at review conferences of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  A world free of nuclear weapons was a global vision that required a global response, he said, noting that the United Nations was ready to work with Member States to that end.

    Statements

    JORGE ARREAZA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, urged Member States to support convening an international high-level meeting and a conference on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations no later than 2018.  Emphasizing a need for a new comprehensive and systematic approach to disarmament, he said:  “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of proliferation exists.”  Because any use of nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity, he said their total and absolute elimination must be achieved.

    The Non-Aligned Movement, since its creation, had stood at the forefront of nuclear disarmament, he said, underlining its strong condemnation of the development of nuclear weapons programmes.  In making efforts to stop their spread, he reaffirmed support for using multilateral diplomacy in the negotiations to reach disarmament and non-proliferation goals.

    HÉCTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), considered verifiable and complete disarmament to be an absolute priority.  Calling the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a break from the status quo that bolstered non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, he urged all States that had not yet signed that instrument to do so and to ratify it.

    Appealing to nuclear-weapon States, he called on them to withdraw all interpretative declarations to additional protocols to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).  Further urging them to uphold their disarmament commitments, he said the Non-Proliferation Treaty provided no rights for the possession of nuclear weapons by any State.  He also urged all States to refrain from conducting explosive and non-explosive nuclear tests and from using digital means to improve such weapons.  Those actions contravened the Non-Proliferation Treaty, undermining its objective, he said, noting that for CELAC member States, the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their complete prohibition and elimination.  Having demonstrated responsibility in building a safer world, CELAC members encouraged others to follow suit.

    CARL GREENIDGE, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana, noting that his country was the first Member State to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said those arms provided a false sense of security to States possessing them while simultaneously provoking fear and anxiety at the prospect of their use.  Emphasizing the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, he said their continued existence was an affront to development.  Money spent to produce, maintain and modernize nuclear weapons could be better directed towards sustainable development, he said.

    RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said today’s high-level meeting offered a reminder of commitments made to eliminate nuclear weapons and a platform for leaders to amplify their political support for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Disarmament initiatives must be a primary catalyst to finally rid the world of nuclear weapons, he said, calling on States possessing them to reduce the role such arms played in their security doctrines.  Nuclear disarmament discussions must keep humanitarian considerations at the forefront, he said, emphasizing the significance of efforts towards the entry into force of relevant instruments.

    MOHAMED ASIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said that as the world had seen an increase in the development of dangerous weapons and growing risks of nuclear bomb detonation, whether accidental or intentional, and of terrorist groups acquiring those arms, both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States should collaborate to stop proliferation and testing, and work towards their total elimination.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had violated international law, he said, calling on the international community to find a lasting solution to that issue.  Underlining the importance of engagement in disarmament efforts, he pointed at recent drives to sign and ratify relevant instruments with that goal in mind.

    M. JAVAD ZARIF, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, cited a range of alarming trends, including that a nuclear-weapon State had recently announced intentions to strengthen and expand its nuclear arsenal to ensure its place “at the top of the pack”.  That was a clear indication of, and an explicit invitation to, the start of a new arms race, he said, pointing out other concerns, including ongoing efforts by almost all nuclear-weapon possessors to modernize their arsenals, and one nuclear-weapon State’s development of “mini-nukes”.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would reinforce the disarmament regime, he said, emphasizing that non-nuclear-weapon States would not remain indifferent towards nuclear-weapon States who failed to comply with their explicit disarmament obligations.  Noting that Iran was a long-standing member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said every effort must be made to ensure that instrument’s universalization.  Only one country in the area was not party to that Treaty, namely Israel, which had continued to threaten the region and beyond.

    ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons constituted a collective expression of frustration towards a lack of meaningful progress on disarmament.  The instrument, which complemented the existing disarmament architecture, “expressly delegitimized” nuclear weapons and the concept of deterrence and had been crafted to be balanced, robust and forward looking.  Commending its inclusion of verification mechanisms and pathways for nuclear-weapon States to become signatories in the future, his delegation remained committed to supporting global efforts to make meaningful progress towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) said that with 15,000 nuclear weapons threatening humankind, it was unacceptable that millions of dollars were being spent on arms instead of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The international community’s endorsement of the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons demonstrated its firm conviction that those arms were not only inhumane but soon illegal.  Condemning the existence of nuclear weapons and their testing, Cuba was proud that Latin America and the Caribbean region was free of nuclear weapons and a zone of peace.

    ABDELKADER MESSAHEL (Algeria) urged the international community to prioritize the promotion of peace, security and stability.  Despite Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, nuclear weapons continued to be used as deterrents in international security, he said, urging parties to adhere to the instrument’s provisions.  There was an urgent need to establish a legally binding international instrument to provide security measures to non-nuclear-weapon States, speed up the Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force and create nuclear‑weapon‑free zones throughout the world.  The political will of all States was essential to establish the necessary conditions to overcome obstacles on the path towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

    İSMAIL ALPER COŞKUN, Director-General for International Security Affairs of Turkey, emphasizing an urgent need for high-level political will in the disarmament arena, underlined the importance of exchanging views and bridging positions on banning nuclear weapons.  Nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its threat to use those arms violated relevant Security Council resolutions and challenged regional and global peace and security.  The upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference was an opportunity to strengthen that instrument.  Regretting the postponement of an international conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said the Non-Proliferation Treaty must be made universal and be fully respected, adding that any initiative that excluded nuclear-weapon States would be ineffective.

    VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand) said the path to the elimination of nuclear weapons was clearer following the adoption of the Treaty for their prohibition.  Thailand was among the first to sign it, but much work remained to be done to achieve the total elimination of those weapons.  Still, the instrument was a great achievement that must embolden Member States to further their pursuit of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said complete disarmament had not yet been achieved and thousands of nuclear weapons still existed.  Noting that not a single nuclear weapon had been destroyed in recent years, he said nuclear-weapon States had in fact continued modernizing their arsenals.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s breach of international law and Security Council resolutions, he called on that country to adhere to the provisions of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  For its part, Peru had renewed its commitment to support all measures and initiatives that were legally binding with the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.

    MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC and with the Declaration of Member States of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, said disarmament progress had been extremely limited.  International security was being weakened by nuclear-weapon States indefinitely postponing compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and ongoing discourse in favour of nuclear weapons, as reflected by the determination of “some States” to maintain arsenals.  Urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, he asked all actors involved to show restraint and responsibility.  The movement declaring the unacceptability and illegitimacy of those arms had been addressed by the conferences on their humanitarian impact and the historic approval of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which complemented the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Expressing hope that the upcoming session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would fulfil its tasks, he reiterated that a United Nations high-level conference on nuclear disarmament in 2018 would be an appropriate venue to follow through with measures towards common goals.

    JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), noting that several recent natural disasters in the region had left many people dead and homeless, said the accidental or deliberate detonation of nuclear weapons, however, would create a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale and incalculable damage to all of humankind.  Mexico condemned any form of nuclear weapons testing and their deployment as part of any security doctrine.  Given the current international context, and growing tensions resulting from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions, he underscored a need for progress on disarmament in order to free humankind from the shackles of those cruel weapons and their consequences.

    JAN KICKERT (Austria) said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s burgeoning nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities was a wake-up call that existing non-proliferation efforts were not enough.  Non-proliferation must be paired with bolstered nuclear disarmament efforts.  Drafters of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty seemed to have understood a need to pursue both non‑proliferation and disarmament more fully than some of today’s promoters of halting the spread of nuclear weapons.  Welcoming the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said a growing number of Member States were signing the instrument, which established a clear legal norm against nuclear weapons and laid a necessary foundation for their future elimination.  Noting that some had claimed that nuclear disarmament was impossible in the current international landscape, he said they ignored the risks nuclear weapons posed, including by unintended explosions and the possibility of falling into the hands of terrorists.

    SYED AKBARUDDIN (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated his country’s commitment to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  “There is a need for a meaningful dialogue among all States possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence” and to reduce the salience of such weapons in international affairs and security doctrines, he said.

    The Conference on Disarmament was the only appropriate platform for such negotiations, he said.  India stood ready to commence talks within that body aimed at developing a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention along the lines of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.  India also supported beginning talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Noting that increasing restraints on the use of nuclear weapons would reduce the probability of their use — whether deliberate, unintentional or accidental — he pointed out that India’s resolutions in the First Committee on measures to reduce nuclear danger and on a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons had received broad support among Member States.

    JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a milestone of hope.  Calling on all States to adhere to the instrument, he said nuclear disarmament was a matter of concern to humankind.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing activities, he urged all parties to cease belligerent rhetoric.  International peace and security could not be underpinned by those arms being used as a deterrent, he said, emphasizing that dialogue and diplomacy were fundamental to achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) said his country was deeply concerned about the catastrophic consequences of detonating atomic bombs, a point highlighted in the three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.  Also worrying was the continuation of qualitative improvements and modernization of nuclear arsenals and their means of delivery, which contradicted the spirit of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  On the rising tensions caused by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities, he called on relevant stakeholders to exercise restraint and refrain from making statements and taking actions that exacerbated the situation.  South Africa reiterated its call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to discontinue its nuclear weapons programme and rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  As a country that had voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons programme, South Africa held a firm view that there were “no safe hands” for weapons of mass destruction.

    MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) said nuclear weapons would not create a stable world nor would they be determinants of development.  Member States had to direct technical innovations and skills towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, not towards building nuclear weapons.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a clear sign the international community would persevere in its quest to eliminate such arms, he said, calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately halt their programme.  No matter where nuclear weapons were located, they posed a threat to all of humanity, he emphasized, encouraging the peaceful use of nuclear technology to advance development objectives.

    COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, amid current nuclear threats, his delegation was participating in the high-level meeting “with a sense of urgency and even greater conviction that nuclear weapons should have no place in our global security framework”.  The role of such weapons must be diminished and ultimately eliminated from security doctrines.  Recent events had shown that they only compounded regional crises, deepened mistrust, reduced opportunities for meaningful cooperation and increased the prospect for humanitarian catastrophes.  Voicing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an important addition to the world’s existing disarmament instruments, he called for a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament to be convened no later than 2018.  He also cited the additional risks posed by non-State actors with the means, resolve and determination to secure of weapons of mass destruction.

    ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), expressing concern at the slow pace of disarmament, said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a step in the right direction, urging all States to sign and ratify it so that it could enter into force.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty was both the cornerstone of disarmament and the bedrock for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said, reiterating Libya’s commitment to international agreements regarding weapons of mass destruction.  Genuine political will and international cooperation were crucial for meeting disarmament goals, he said, emphasizing that any use of nuclear weapons was a violation of the United Nations Charter and a crime against humanity.

    KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said that in an interdependent and connected world, nuclear weapons were no longer an asset, but a danger.  As a country that had closed its test site and renounced its arsenal, Kazakhstan was deeply concerned about testing activities conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the only country in the twenty-first century to carry out such trials despite international condemnation.  Such activities should compel States to ensure the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, he said, calling on the Annex 2 States to ratify that instrument without further delay.

    Kazakhstan intended to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said, highlighting the opening in August in Astana of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) low-enriched uranium bank that would ensure the safe supply of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes.  At its opening ceremonies, the President of Kazakhstan had underscored the harmful consequences of nuclear weapons for humanity, he said.  Of the thousands of existing nuclear weapons, 0.5 per cent would devastate the climate and cause a global famine.  That, in other words, meant self-destruction, he said.

    MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed deep concerns over repeated nuclear weapons testing by a Member State in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  He urged all concerned to scale down provocations and de-escalate tensions in the interest of finding solutions through dialogue and negotiations.  Bangladesh was also concerned by the slow pace of disarmament and a lack of initiatives by nuclear‑weapon States to reduce their arsenals.  Raising other concerns, he warned of the threat of nuclear weapons and material falling into terrorist hands and the devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences of the use of such arms due to accidents, miscalculation or brinksmanship.

    KORO BESSHO (Japan), recalling that the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 had claimed millions of lives and caused incomparable human suffering, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear tests now posed the most grave and imminent threat to international security.  They also presented a challenge to the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions and abandon its missile and nuclear weapons development immediately.

    For its part, he said, Japan had established an international group of experts to provide recommendations for effective nuclear disarmament, to be presented at the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.  With that in mind, Japan intended to present a draft resolution to the First Committee proposing practical and concrete measures to promote nuclear disarmament.  Japan would also continue to serve as a bridge between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States in building confidence and work towards the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said his country had abandoned its nuclear capability, acceding in 1994 to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and in 2012, removed existing stockpiles of highly enriched uranium from its territory.  It had consistently advocated for reducing arsenals, halting modernization programmes and decreasing the role of those arms in military doctrines.  Its decision to renounce nuclear weapons was largely based on written security guarantees in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.  Now, Ukraine faced aggression by a nuclear‑weapon State, with the Russian Federation’s violation of that Memorandum.  Urging nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with their existing security assurance commitments, he called on countries that had not yet done so to sign or ratify the Test-Ban Treaty, especially the remaining Annex 2 States, and expressed support for the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

    CHRISTOPH ANTON (Germany) said his country had always been engaged in pursuing disarmament based on a pragmatic step-by-step approach, but the reality today was gloomy, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s illegal quest for nuclear weapons posing a real and grave threat.  While such developments made it harder to convince States to further reduce their arsenals, that should not deter further disarmament progress.  “The key question is how to achieve concrete, verifiable nuclear disarmament steps in a difficult, even conflict-ridden environment, not only in Asia, but also in many other parts of the world,” he said.  Disarmament could not be achieved without considering the existing security environment, he added, emphasizing that Germany stood fully by its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commitments in that regard.

    With a group of partners, he said, Germany supported a step-by-step approach toward effective, verifiable and irreversible disarmament, with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament structure.  The next step would involve another substantial nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation, which together controlled more than 90 per cent of global stockpiles.  Parallel to that would be concrete steps on the multilateral disarmament agenda, including the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  A robust and credible disarmament verification regime would also be needed, as well as a multilateral instrument on security assurances by nuclear-weapon States to the non-nuclear-weapon States.  A step-by-step approach to disarmament could not count on quick success, but Member States should be united in their commitment to make progress, jointly try to overcome the current deadlock and bring closer a world without nuclear weapons.

    DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, 2017 marked a “before and after” in the quest for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Ecuador had signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty on the understanding that States possessing nuclear weapons would begin negotiations for their elimination, he said, voicing a rejection of any interpretation of the instrument that gave any State the right to possess nuclear weapons indefinitely.  Condemning recent nuclear tests in the strongest terms, he said there were no good or bad possessors of nuclear weapons.  He expressed regret that the General Assembly had been forced to hear threats of the total destruction of entire countries, and appealed for an immediate halt to such threats.

    BASSEM HASSAN (Egypt) said eliminating nuclear weapons hinged on nuclear Powers implementing their obligations to Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and leading efforts to achieve universal adherence to that instrument.  Honest, inclusive discussions must be held on the validity of “construed conceptions” of nuclear weapons as a deterrent.  Current challenges stemmed from the existence of those weapons and a discriminatory nature of the non-proliferation regime.  “It is quite elusive to address non-proliferation while disregarding disarmament,” he said, adding that non-nuclear-weapon States had grown impatient over the need to address gaps in the prevailing regime.  Noting that Egypt was carrying out its Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations, he said Arab countries in the Middle East were frustrated by repeated failures to establish a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He expressed disappointment over the decision to block consensus on the final document of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

    KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan) said global efforts to regulate, reduce and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons were facing serious challenges.  Lack of progress among nuclear-weapon States had negatively impacted global disarmament efforts, eroding international consensus on related issues, as evidenced by the failure of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament.

    For its part, Pakistan was fully committed to disarmament, he said, emphasizing that progress could be achieved by applying genuine political will.  Asking the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions and to abandon its nuclear programme, he said recent nuclear tests underscored a global need to restrain all such activities.  Regretting to note the failure, despite his country’s efforts, to create a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the region, he called for additional non-proliferation criteria and the Test-Ban Treaty’s accelerated entry into force.

    SUN LEI (China), reiterating his country’s commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world, pointed out the current uphill battle in the areas of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Nuclear weapons were like the sword of Damocles hanging over the world and it was imperative to ban them.  Calling on all sides to embrace a security vision that included cooperation and the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said China’s nuclear strategy was based on the principle of self-defence while respecting a moratorium on testing and a no-first-use commitment.  China’s principled position was in line with the purposes of a prohibition treaty, but disarmament efforts must not diminish the security of States.  Rather, disarmament must proceed in a step-by-step manner through existing disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms to ensure the participation of all countries.  Going forward, China would promote disarmament that was carried out in a rational, pragmatic and orderly fashion.

    OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that, more than ever before, the world seemed to be on the brink of a nuclear disaster, with the spectre of atomic war at the highest level since the end of the cold war.  Nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were unacceptable and reprehensible.  Even worse, criminal groups and fanatics were on a quest to acquire nuclear bombs and material, augmenting the risk of deliberate or accidental explosions.  Adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was an encouraging step, but their total elimination could not be carried out only by States that did not have such weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States were indispensable to all disarmament initiatives and without their involvement, no progress would be made.  Efforts towards sustainable development, combatting climate change and restoring peace in the world would come to naught if the planet remained threatened by atomic pulverization.  Countries possessing nuclear weapons must understand that nuclear deterrence offered a false sense of security and that peace could not be founded on mutually assured destruction.

    MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq), emphasizing the importance of the General Assembly holding a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament in 2018, said complying with all United Nations resolutions on eliminating weapons of mass destruction was the only way to guarantee the non-use of these weapons.  Urging the international community to redouble efforts to completely eliminate nuclear weapons and guarantee a safe and secure future for all generations, he outlined the General Assembly’s resolution 71/258 and the importance of taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament through negotiations, noting that the Conference on Disarmament was the sole multilateral negotiation body within the United Nations.  Efforts must also be made to speed up the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, he said, calling on all Annex 2 countries to ratify the instrument as soon as possible.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear tests, he called on all States to respect the current moratorium on nuclear weapons explosions.

    VIVIAN NWUNAKU ROSE OKEKE (Nigeria), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the total elimination of nuclear weapons remained the only viable approach to ensure international peace and security.  Nigeria was proud to have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said, underscoring the many benefits of nuclear disarmament and emphasizing that Member States should demonstrate sincerity and commitment to the goal of the total elimination of such arms.

    ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said security and stability would not exist while countries possessed weapons of mass destruction.  He stressed the need to eliminate nuclear weapons and embrace existing relevant treaties.  Saudi Arabia supported efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone and called on Israel and Iran to cooperate in that process.  He expressed optimism that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would strengthen international peace and security while reaffirming the right to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

    VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation), expressing his country’s commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons, said it had, over the last 30 years, actively participated in the nuclear disarmament process, including through “real progress” on a bilateral basis with the United States.  He also described unilateral measures it had taken in that regard, including the development of more stringent storage measures and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the national security doctrine.

    However, the nuclear-weapon States had had good reasons for not attending the recent conference that had negotiated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said.  Indeed, the question was how and when to introduce complete prohibition, he explained, emphasizing that the development of a legally binding instrument at the present stage was “clearly premature”.  The Treaty had been developed in haste and its provisions would create risks for the established system, and generating mistrust among States.  It also ignored existing reality, he said.  The Treaty should have been adopted by consensus instead of through a vote, and the opinion of nuclear-weapon-States had been ignored.

    AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said an increase in nuclear weapons testing in recent months had threatened peace and stability of the region and beyond.  The risks rose when considering chances of accidental, mistaken or unauthorized use, the threat of their vulnerability due to technical failures, human error and cyberattacks and the danger of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands, which could lead to unthinkable consequences.  Nuclear weapons testing and use had disproportionately affected innocent women and children in many parts of the world and had contaminated water and food sources.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons would be the only absolute guarantee against the grave danger they posed to humanity, he said, emphasizing that the international treaty framework remained the most effective and legally binding means to address disarmament and non-proliferation.

    CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of a nuclear detonation would affect the planet as a whole, regardless of where it took place.  “We have lost our patience” with the global disarmament machinery, he stressed, adding that Colombia was a party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which had been a regional pioneer that had made an invaluable contribution to peace and non-proliferation in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Noting that an ongoing dialogue with nuclear-weapon States would be critical, he said that while all nations bore a collective responsibility for global disarmament, nuclear-weapon States bore a special responsibility to disarm.  “We have to move forward and make possible the impossible,” he concluded.

    CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, recalled that his delegation had devoted many of its interventions in recent years to exposing and denouncing the existence of some 15,000 atomic weapons.  He expressed regret over the paralysis of the global disarmament machinery.  “To this dark background is added the recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 3 September”, as well as its recent ballistic missile launches over the territory of Japan.  Despite that complex international context, Chile maintained its conviction that coexistence in a world without nuclear weapons was possible, and that maintaining peace and security without resorting to nuclear deterrence was not only possible, but an ethical imperative.  Chile had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last week, he recalled, noting that the new instrument would open a promising new path to the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free planet.  While it would not lead to the automatic elimination of nuclear weapons, the Treaty would create a rule to stigmatize their possession, thereby laying the groundwork for further negotiations.

    IRMA ROSA (Honduras) said her country had worked to promote public awareness and education on the need for total elimination of nuclear weapons, adding that civil society and media had played an important role.  Complete nuclear disarmament was the focus of efforts by the General Assembly, she said, commending the significant efforts of Member States to mobilize the international machinery to that end.  However, more must be done to dismantle nuclear arsenals, she emphasized, describing the Treaty as a significant step towards safeguarding future generations.  She called upon States that had not yet done so to sign up to it, and on Member States in general to exercise the political will to move forward towards the goal of nuclear disarmament.

    MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said his country’s nuclear programme was strictly for peaceful purposes and in line with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime.  Voicing support for the adoption of concrete measures by nuclear-weapon States to make progress towards a world free of those arms, he said related talks must take place on the basis of broad global agreement.  Noting that Argentina had voted in favour of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said his country would host the next meeting of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification.  States must meet their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and all relevant safeguard agreements, he said, including under the auspices of the IAEA.  Such verification was critical to prohibit the hostile use of nuclear energy, he said, adding his strong condemnation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities in that regard.  All States would need to show political will and flexibility in order to make progress towards complete global disarmament, with the early entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty helping to build trust along the way.

    MIRIAMA HERENUI BETHAM-MALIELEGAOI (Samoa) said Pacific countries stood united against nuclear weapons.  Scars and fear that had been caused by nuclear weapon tests in the region would never fade, she said.  With no army or military affiliation, Samoa relied on the protections afforded by the rule of law.  The mere existence of nuclear weapons made peace unattainable, she noted, calling for logical solutions to completely eliminate them.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reflected Samoa’s aspirations for a nuclear-weapon-free world, a mission that called for a sense of urgency and cooperation.

    JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said his country strongly supported nuclear disarmament efforts, and highlighted the active part it had played in the Treaty’s elaboration.  Guatemala was firmly committed to ensuring that nuclear weapons would never be used again.  The Treaty demonstrated the steadfast political will of States to break with the status quo, he said, adding that the media had also played an important role in raising awareness of the nuclear disarmament issue.  He condemned provocative actions by countries armed with nuclear weapons, saying they were threatening global peace and stability.

    BRIAN FLYNN (Ireland) said his country had been among the first to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The impetus for that instrument and the Non-Proliferation Treaty had stemmed from the international community’s awareness of the risks and catastrophic consequences of the use of those arms.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear testing, he said those activities had highlighted the urgent need for the implementation of the Test-Ban Treaty.  Recalling a meeting he had had last week with representatives from Nagasaki, Japan, he said he had heard their testimony on why the international community must strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.  With that in mind, he called for a redoubling of efforts towards that common goal.

    Mr. GONÇALVES (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country looked forward to a secure world free of all nuclear weapons.  Today’s world was facing numerous challenges and injustices, including threats from such weapons, which were “part of our daily reality”.  The use of nuclear weapons as security deterrents was both dangerous and unsustainable, he said, warning that they could fall into the hands of non-State actors and threatened the very existence of humanity itself.  Recalling that the world had once witnessed the catastrophic effects of the use of nuclear weapons, he stressed that all methods should be employed to ensure that they were never used again, emphasizing that both dialogue and prevention would be critical in that regard.

    NUR ASHIKIN MOHD TAIB (Malaysia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized her country’s strong belief that the existence of nuclear weapons was incompatible with elementary considerations of humanity, and that their total elimination would be the only guarantee that they would never be used.  Malaysia had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on that basis, and remained convinced that the political and legal impact of that instrument would lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons.  The Treaty would also send a powerful message that nuclear weapons were unacceptable, strengthen global norms, and stigmatize nuclear weapons, while providing openings for other States to sign up in the future.  The signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons also reflected Malaysia’s commitment and support for the principle of general and complete disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament and measures towards realizing a nuclear-weapon-free world, she said.

    IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden) said that instead of delivering on disarmament commitments, nuclear-weapon States were modernizing or expanding their arsenals, and some even spoke of using them.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must refrain from further illegal nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches and choose a path of credible and meaningful dialogue and negotiation.  While past years had seen a serious and dangerous loss of momentum on disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, one notable exception had been the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, which must be respected by all parties.  Moving towards the next review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2020, “we all have a responsibility not to repeat the failure of the 2015 conference”, she said, adding that nuclear-weapon States must first and foremost finally deliver on their commitments flowing from article VI of that instrument.  “Nuclear weapons are the most inhumane of all weapons,” she stressed, calling for practical measures towards total nuclear disarmament and expressing hope that the First Committee would “make a true difference” in its work during the Assembly’s seventy-second session.

    BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, having signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said no nuclear-weapon State could be persuaded to eliminate its nuclear arsenal unless there was a general and complete disarmament process.  That process would be needed to avoid an imbalance of conventional forces, he added, encouraging States that had not yet ratified relevant disarmament treaties to do so and thus enable their entry into force.  Highlighting the disarmament-development nexus, he urged Governments to reallocate saved resources to sustainable development.

    DENNIS KUCINICH, Basel Peace Office, said the international community must insist upon structured, legally affirmed treaties to compel non-violent conflict resolution.  Technology created a “global village”, but in terms of nuclear weapons, the line between deterrence and provocation was a thin one.  “An aggressive expression of nuclear sovereignty is suicidal,” he said, adding that now was the moment for citizens of the world to use social media to insist on nuclear disarmament and nuclear abolition through non-violent conflict resolution, while affirming technology’s evolutionary potential for peace.  He emphasized that the world’s security would only be enhanced when each Member State of the 193‑strong General Assembly had a vote in the Security Council.  He urged individuals to disarm and abolish any destructive force that could breed domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, gun violence and racial violence.  He called for the elimination of destructive “words of mass destruction” that could unleash weapons of mass destruction, stressing that nations must abandon “designs for empire and dominance”.

    MARZHAN NURZHAN, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said his country, Kazakhstan, had inherited 1,500 nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union, which had given it possession of the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.  Kazakhstan had rejected the weapons, however, due to the catastrophic consequences of nuclear testing carried out by the Soviet Union at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site from 1949 to 1989.  The fallout from those tests had contaminated the Semey region and led to the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement that had resulted in the test site’s closure.  The Government’s renunciation of nuclear weapons had in turn led to negotiations on a nuclear-weapon-free Central Asia, the establishment of the “ATOM project” and an agenda for eliminating nuclear weapons by 2045.

    He called on Governments to recognize the importance of engaging young people on the issue, and for their implementation of Article 26 of the United Nations Charter on reducing military spending and re-investing resources to address social and economic needs.  He also expressed hope that the Security Council and the General Assembly would “take up the call” by President Nursultan Nazarbayev for 1 per cent of all military spending to be redirected to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said youth around the world would participate in “Reach HIGH for a Nuclear-weapon-free World”, and called upon Governments also to “reach high” and announce their attendance at the 2018 United Nations High-level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.  He noted that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had adopted resolutions in support of that event and called for the inclusion of high-level parliamentarians and youth in Government delegations.

    MAGED ABDELAZIZ, League of Arab States, spoke on behalf of the bloc’s Secretary-General, reiterating the importance of a nuclear-weapon-free world and of complete nuclear disarmament.  It was also important that nuclear-weapon States participate in the process, accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and place international interests above national interests, he emphasized.  Underlining the Arab League’s commitment to the Middle East as a zone free from weapons of mass destruction, he expressed regret that Israel did not support the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  To that end, he urged Israel to give control of all their nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and engage with the international community on efforts to prohibit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Despite progress on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the League had been abiding by their commitments and was stressing the need for such zones, as they were the cornerstone of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said today’s meeting had proved that the international community of States was more determined than ever to establish a nuclear-weapon-free world.  He expressed regret that allegations had been levied against his country, saying it was ironic that Iran had been told to respect human rights by a “medieval regime” that, in the twenty-first century, was celebrating granting women the right to drive.

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  • Differing Views on How to Preserve Stability amid Existential Threats, as General Debate Considers Security, Human Rights, International Law

    Small Island States Concerned about Access to Financial Markets, Illegal Fishing

    Security, human rights and international law took centre stage at the General Assembly today, with States diverging over how best to preserve their stability in the face of existential threats, as the 193-member body entered the fifth day of its annual high-level debate.

    Despite broad agreement that terrorism and organized crime menaced the safety of civilians around the globe, opinions were split over how to combat such threats.  Some speakers underlined the primacy of human rights and others spotlighted security and the rule of law as the most pressing concerns.  Meanwhile, nearly all delegations stood united in condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests as flagrant violations of international law, an allegation that the country’s Foreign Minister denied.

    Ri Yong Ho, Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, underlined his country’s right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter, saying article 10 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons stated that the supreme interests of States stood above nuclear non-proliferation.  He described claims that Pyongyang’s possession of a hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles constituted a global threat as lies akin to those told by the United States in 2003 about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Pointing out that the United States had been the first country to produce and use nuclear weapons, he said that country had also been the first to introduce them to the Korean Peninsula after the Korean War.  It was for those reasons that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was compelled to possess nuclear weapons, he explained.  “The possession of nuclear deterrence by the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is a righteous self-defensive measure” intended to establish a balance of power with the United States, he continued.  That country and its followers would now have to “think twice” before launching a military provocation.

    Walid al-Moualem, Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed optimism about the de-escalation zones resulting from the Astana process, saying that pledges to join it by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusrah would be the true test of their commitment and that of their Turkish sponsors.  He also reaffirmed Syria’s commitment to the Geneva process, while pointing out that it had yet to bear fruit in the absence of a national opposition that could be a partner in Syria’s future.  Influential countries, including permanent Security Council members, had blocked any meaningful progress in Geneva, he added.

    He said those behind the war had falsely accused the Government of Syria of using chemical weapons, yet the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed the elimination of its chemical weapons programme.  Such claims were a pretext for continued aggression against Syria, he said, noting that the “so-called” international coalition led by the United States and allegedly created to fight ISIL, had in fact killed many more Syrian women and children while destroying vital infrastructure.  It had also used phosphorous bombs and other internationally prohibited weapons, he added.

    Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister, referred to the dispute between her country and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, saying the latter had forgotten that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, they had agreed to settle

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