Members Conclude Annual Debate before Heading into Working Groups to Deliberate Key Agenda Items
Nuclear disarmament was at a crossroads, with the Korean peninsula a “touch-and-go powder keg” and the oldest and newest nuclear-weapon States in sharp confrontation with each other, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea told the Disarmament Commission today, as Member States concluded the general debate of their annual substantive session.
Instead of providing security assurances, the United States, said the speaker, had constantly intensified the nuclear threat against his country. “Our nuclear forces are the life and soul of our nation, which cannot be given up […] as long as the nuclear threat to us persists,” he declared.
On the dominant theme of today’s discussions — the need to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons through a universal and binding legal instrument — speakers highlighted several imperatives. The representative of China said that the international disarmament process should be aimed at promoting security of all, adding that the complex circumstances emerging around the globe required all countries to shed their cold war mentality and embrace a new “win-win” approach.
The representative of Iran stressed the need to abandon the current piecemeal approach, noting that entire categories of biological and chemical weapons had been eliminated through comprehensive, binding, irreversible and verifiable conventions.
The representative of Brazil emphasized that the task of nuclear disarmament should be completed in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner, on which the Commission could focus its deliberations.
The entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty last year was an important step that underscored the possibility of progress in disarmament, the representative of Spain said.
Other speakers stressed the need to create a truly multilateral approach to disarmament, with the representative of Chile calling for the democratization of international organizations and inclusion of more voices, including from civil society, in debates.
Striking a note of caution, the representative of Georgia called for a firm political stance to prevent the irreversible erosion of the international security architecture. The priority should be to ensure full compliance with obligations made under relevant international instruments as well as Security Council resolutions, he added.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Guatemala, Kuwait, Namibia, Cuba, Austria, United Kingdom, Nicaragua, South Africa, Cambodia, Bahrain (on behalf of the Arab Group), Ukraine, Tanzania, Iraq, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Nigeria, Algeria and Venezuela.
The representatives of the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
In other business, the Commission elected Sarmad Muwafaq Mohammed Al-Taie (Iraq) as Vice-Chair and adopted the schedule of meetings of the working groups.
The Commission will meet at a date and time to be announced.
GIORGI KVELASHVILI (Georgia) said the international community’s priority should be to ensure full compliance with obligations made under relevant international instruments as well as Security Council resolutions. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained the core component for global disarmament, and the success of the forthcoming Review Conference depended on the will to act in a constructive manner without double standards. In certain cases, non-compliance with security agreements could erode the current international system, he said, adding that the Russian Federation had ignored the Budapest Memorandum in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the NPT and had breached the United Nations Charter and related treaties with military aggression against Georgia in 2008. Today, 12,000 Russian occupation troops remained illegally stationed in Georgia, where they continuously built up military forces. A firm political stance was needed to ensure compliance with international law; otherwise, the security architecture would be undermined and irreversibly eroded.
CLAUDIO GARRIDO (Chile) said his country promoted general and complete disarmament and supported debate on the issue nationally and internationally. All States had the shared responsibility to contribute to a global order based on cooperation. In light of 15 years of stagnation, the Commission had not escaped the crisis facing the disarmament machinery, which had been affected by the consensus rule. The democratization of international organizations and multilateral efforts was important and more voices, including from civil society, should be included in debates. Also important was to include examination of weapons of mass destruction in deliberations. In that light, a third item on the Commission’s agenda should be considered. Turning to conventional weapons, he applauded the fruitful consolidation of instruments regulating them. In closing, he called on all delegations to assume a pragmatic approach and to show flexibility as the Commission entered the first year of its three-year cycle.
ROMAN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said the adoption of a flexible approach by all members would allow the Commission to move beyond its recent stagnation, as it began a new triennial cycle. Spain hoped the ninth Review Conference of the NPT would help to revitalize the Treaty. In order to bring about a nuclear weapon-free world, there was a need for those countries with the largest arsenals to begin negotiations on reductions beyond established thresholds. The eight Annex 2 States needed to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), while other countries should join in reducing the role of nuclear weapons in strategic doctrines. Spain supported negotiations on a fissile missile cut-off treaty and called on relevant States to impose a moratorium on production as a demonstration of their commitment. Regretting the inability to hold a conference to establish the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, he urged countries to step up their efforts in that regard. Despite progress on Syria’s chemical weapons, there were areas of concern which required the international community’s continued engagement. On bacteriological weapons, Spain stressed the universalization of the international treaty. The entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty last year was an important step that underscored the possibility of progress in disarmament.
SUN LEI (China) said pursuing peace and cooperation amid the complex emerging circumstances was a challenge which required all countries to shed their cold war mentality and embrace a new “win-win” approach. China was firmly committed to a nuclear policy based on self-defence and had exercised utmost restraint in developing its nuclear arsenal. The international nuclear disarmament process should be aimed at promoting security for all, he said, expressing hope that the Conference on Disarmament would reach consensus on its programme of work so that it could start substantive deliberations. Welcoming the key parameters agreed by the “P5+1” and Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland, he said his country was ready to make further contributions to address that challenge. On the Korean peninsula, China would make efforts to resume talks through the existing multilateral mechanism. His country supported the early convening of the conference on declaring the Middle East a region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, he said, and stressed the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space. More broadly, transparency and confidence-building measures were central to achieving progress in disarmament and non-proliferation. The multilateral disarmament machinery had made tremendous contributions to international peace and security, he said, urging all parties to take positive and pragmatic steps to break the stalemate of recent years.
MARÍA SOLEDAD URRUELA ARENALES (Guatemala) said as the new cycle presented a fresh impetus to produce consensus recommendations, she recalled recent talks on Iran’s nuclear programme as a milestone for diplomacy in non-proliferation efforts. However, the balance of disarmament and non-proliferation was among the biggest challenges to the international community. In that vein, the NPT and its three pillars should be fully implemented. Some progress had been made, particularly with current debates on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, she said, adding that moving ahead, it was urgent to adopt a legally binding instrument on nuclear disarmament. Supporting efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in Mongolia and in the Middle East, she called on all States to support a conference on the latter. To ensure other gains, it was essential to maintain a moratorium on nuclear-weapon tests until the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) came into force. Turning to conventional weapons, she applauded the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a milestone in its field. However, there was a lack of progress at the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
ABDULAZIZ A M A ALAJMI (Kuwait) said participating delegations should constructively contribute to discussions throughout this session to revive the Commission’s role and to leave behind 15 years of stagnation. With regard to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said that despite seven decades of efforts to contain and eliminate that threat, an inertia had stalled progress in the disarmament machinery. Regional and subregional efforts must enhance cooperation among States to ensure progress on creating a world without weapons of mass destruction. Leading up to the NPT’s 2015 Review Conference, a renewed effort should be made to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Despite calls for creating such a zone, including at the 1995 Review Conference, the goal remained elusive. More broadly, all States must accede to the NPT and open their nuclear installations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On conventional weapons, he said guidelines were needed for confidence-building measures in order to achieve international peace and security and increase transparency and dialogue. All States had a right to reject occupation, including taking over land. In closing, he hoped delegates could produce recommendations on all items on the Commission’s agenda this year.
AN MYONG HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the main problem blocking the Commission was not working methods, but political obstacles. As a multilateral deliberative forum, discussions should be based on multilateralism and not on unilateral policies or positions underpinned by double standards. A “silver bullet” to get the Commission back to work must be triggered by a demonstration of political will by all Member States. Nuclear disarmament was at a crossroads, with the Korean peninsula being a “touch-and-go nuclear powder keg”, where the oldest and newest nuclear-weapon States were sharply confronting each other. The United States, instead of providing security assurances to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, had constantly intensified the nuclear threat. “Our nuclear forces are the life and soul of our nation, which cannot be given up […] as long as the nuclear threat to us persists,” he said. Moreover, the ongoing unusually provocative joint military exercises staged since 2 March threatened to spark a war, as they infringed his country’s sovereignty and dignity. The grave reality on the Korean peninsula demonstrated the gravity of challenges to nuclear disarmament, he said, adding that to achieve complete disarmament, the country with the largest nuclear arsenal should take the lead.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia) said progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was essential to strengthening international peace and security and should be guided by General Assembly resolution 69/28 on the follow-up to the body’s high-level meeting on the issue. Advances in nuclear disarmament depended on applying the necessary political will. The total elimination of those weapons was the only way to prevent their use or threat of use and, pending that, nuclear-weapon States must provide binding security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States. Improving or modernizing existing nuclear weapons contradicted the disarmament objectives as well as commitments made by nuclear-weapon States. He encouraged all States that had not yet done so to ratify the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. He also called for the full implementation of the action plan adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Multilateral disarmament negotiations would achieve tangible results only if there was a genuine political will to support the process, he concluded.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), associating with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the international community was not making the best use of the tools and opportunities offered by the disarmament machinery. Members needed to take better advantage of the Commission’s universal membership and better explore the fact that it was not bound by a narrow thematic agenda. The main obstacle to further progress was the lack of political will, rather than procedural issues. Nuclear weapons must be prohibited and completely eliminated in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner, and the Commission could focus its deliberation on those three important aspects. Brazil and its neighbours were strengthening confidence and enhancing transparency in defence policies, including on military expenditures and conventional arms. The country favoured the consideration of a third agenda item that could be devoted to the prevention of an arms race in outer space, he said, adding that its inclusion should not distract from efforts to advance the other two items, nor should it serve the purposes of creating artificial linkages between different issues.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) said the Commission was an important organ in the multilateral disarmament system. As a country belonging to a proclaimed zone of peace, he rejected the arbitrary and aggressive United Nations executive order against Venezuela, which qualified as a national security threat. As Venezuela had never invaded or attacked another country and had contributed to the region’s energy needs and economy, the action was an “alarm bell” for countries of the region. Nothing justified the existence of more than 17,265 nuclear bombs. The mushroom cloud would provoke a genocide much greater than the thousands of Japanese families that had suffered its consequences. A general agreement on nuclear weapons should provide for their prohibition and total destruction, he said, adding that nuclear-weapon States must meet their commitments with a view to eliminating all such arms. Modernizing existing weapons was unacceptable. as was the existence of a “club of the privileged” that continued to “perfect” arsenals while questioning the rights of States seeking nuclear energy programmes for peaceful purposes. All States had that right, he said. Supporting the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he called for swift action to hold a conference on the matter.
ANDREAS RIECKEN (Austria) noted that a particular focus this year would be on the NPT with the Review Conference following in the heels of the Commission session. The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014, building on previous exercises, produced a set of conclusions — although not part of a negotiated outcome — which should lead to an urgent and profound change in the debate on nuclear weapons. Austria fully acknowledged the inalienable right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and valued the contribution that practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons could make to the maintenance of regional and international peace and security. Welcoming the entry into the force of the landmark Arms Trade Treaty, he anticipated that it would make a crucial contribution to peace and security, development and human rights.
SARAH TELFORD (United Kingdom) said her country had reduced its nuclear weapons stockpiles with a view to retaining a minimum credible deterrent. The series of “P5” conferences convened by the United Kingdom over the past several years was aimed at encouraging collective and transparent action. Verification was one of the more challenging endeavours ahead in the area of disarmament and her country would continue to make efforts in that regard. The Arms Trade Treaty had the potential to change the lives of those most impacted by conventional weapons, she said, adding that its future success depended on its universalization and robust implementation. Small arms and light weapons were the single largest contribution to conflict, violence and crime, which the international community needed to address collaboratively.
JASSER JIMÉNEZ (Nicaragua), associating with the Non-aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), stressed the relevance of the Commission in producing concrete results in the field of disarmament. He rejected the recent statement by the United States President declaring Venezuela a threat to peace and security at a time when the region was making positive progress. As the use of weapons of mass destruction contravened international law, it was incumbent upon all to agree to a binding treaty outlawing them. Supporting the right of States to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said Nicaragua believed ending weapons tests was the best way of eliminating the threats such weapons posed. Practical measures to promote trust in the conventional weapons sphere should be based on the United Nations Charter and take into account Member States’ specific concerns.
ROB WENSLEY (South Africa), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said multilateralism remained at the core of efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation. The Commission, therefore, as the sole deliberative body of the multilateral disarmament machinery, needed to agree to a set of concrete recommendations on its two agenda items. Reiterating his country’s deep concern over the lack of progress by nuclear-weapons States in the implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments, he urged them to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. He regretted that the initial agenda item for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation had been omitted. On conventional weapons, the Commission had come close last year to the adoption of recommendations, he recalled, and expressed hope that members would be able to build on those recommendations during the current session.
RY TUY (Cambodia) said it was the Commission’s collective responsibility to overcome the impasse that had plagued it for 15 years. Entering a new three-year cycle, he hoped it would be able to fulfil its mandate and send concrete recommendations to the General Assembly. He urged all Member States to exhibit the political will and flexibility needed to do so. The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use. Nuclear-weapon States must fulfil, with transparency, irreversibility and international verifiability, their disarmament obligations. As the United Nations central role as a multilateral framework for considering disarmament issues, non-proliferation agreements should be addressed through inclusive, open and non-discriminatory processes and should not impose restrictions on access to nuclear technology, materials and equipment for peaceful purposes. With the NPT being the cornerstone for addressing nuclear weapons, he looked forward to the 2015 Review Conference. Going forward, he underscored the need for strong and genuine political will in supporting the Commission and its mandate.
HAMAD FAREED AHMED HASAN (Bahrain), speaking for the Arab Group, expressed concern about the Commission’s deadlock in agreeing on recommendations. The starting point in discussions was the implementation of article VI of the NPT as well as outcomes of its review conferences. Also critical was consideration of a nuclear weapons convention. Eliminating nuclear weapons was the end goal, he said, adding that nuclear-weapon-free zones were a step in that direction. As such, a Middle East zone needed to be created, with an opportunity for action in that regard leading up to the next NPT Review Conference. Creating such a zone meant implementing review conference decisions, including the 1995 resolution on the matter and the action plan agreed in 2010.
Confidence-building measures and security must be built upon the principles of the United Nations Charter and recognition of the security needs of States, including those living under occupation. The Group reaffirmed the special responsibility of weapons exporters and importers. The Arab Group, he added, would be contributing constructively in the coming weeks as discussions unfolded on the items before the Commission.
ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) said that on the twentieth anniversary of his country’s renouncement of nuclear weapons and accession to the NPT, the Russian Federation had acted in grave violation of the norms of that Treaty and the Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine's accession, as well as other instruments and international law related to its territorial integrity. He called on the Conference on Disarmament to urgently develop and conclude a multilateral legally binding instrument to provide security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Condemning recent statements by Russian Federation officials alluding to a right to deploy nuclear weapons in occupied Crimea, he said they had also seized nuclear facilities, installations and materials there, in contradiction of IAEA statutes. Ukraine had signed several bilateral agreements on confidence- and security-building measures, but regrettably, the Russian Federation had rejected numerous proposals for similar arrangements.
The Russian Federation, he continued, had also consciously misinterpreted international law with its suspension of membership in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, hindering negotiations on control over conventional weapons in the region. Ukraine’s initiative to forge a future-oriented strategic discussion on conventional arms control and confidence-building measures was a timely undertaking and efforts made towards that goal should be viewed in the context of related Russian activities, he concluded.
TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was prudent for the Commission, as the sole specialized and deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, to agree upon a set of concrete recommendations on the issues on its agenda. He noted with concern that the Commission had not submitted any substantive recommendations to the General Assembly in the last 15 years. Achieving total, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament was important, as the use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences. As long as some countries retained and modernized their nuclear arsenals and postures, others would find an excuse to seek them. Pending their abolition, he urged all nuclear-weapon States to provide unconditional and legally binding security assurances against their use or threat of use under all circumstances. Arms proliferation and the illicit trade, as well as their unauthorized use by non-State actors, fuelled and prolonged conflicts and crimes, he said, stressing his country’s full commitment to effective multilateral efforts aimed at combatting that scourge.
EMAD AL-JUHAISHI (Iraq), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the Commission’s importance at a time of growing global challenges. The international community needed to demonstrate robust political will to achieve its objective of eliminating all nuclear and conventional weapons. Nuclear-weapon-free zones helped to consolidate international peace and security by boosting confidence among countries in the region. The Middle East was of central strategic importance politically and economically and required robust efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. The international conference on declaring the region free of such weapons should include the participation of all parties. It was regrettable that the Conference on Disarmament, despite its earlier successes, had now been stalled on disagreement over rules of procedure, he said, calling for renewed efforts to resuscitate those deliberations.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern at the Commission’s inability to affect any tangible outcome for the last 15 years, adding that the continuing failure had forgone any deterrent impact the body’s work might otherwise have had on various forms and manifestations of the violent use of arms by non-State actors. He hoped that all parties would engage constructively during the three-year cycle to make concrete contributions to the international arms control and disarmament regime. Nepal reaffirmed its steadfast support of a time-bound, general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction and emphasized that close cooperation among the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), the Commission and the Conference on Disarmament was critical. While strongly opposing the weaponization of outer space, Nepal supported its use for peaceful purposes, especially for increased teleconnectivity. The country hosted the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific in the belief that regional mechanisms played an important and complementary role in promoting a global agenda of peace and disarmament.
SAAD AL SAAD (Saudi Arabia) said the Commission must overcome the challenges hampering its work. Associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, he said instability in the region was rooted in the weakening of international treaties and conventions. Despite the NPT being the cornerstone for disarmament, relevant international efforts remained inadequate and the continued status quo would only exacerbate the situation. He urged the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East in order to avoid an arms race. Preventive acts as well as bold steps with strategic implications were needed to assuage current regional tensions there, which were the result of Israel’s refusal to accede to the NPT. At the same time, he noted that all States had to right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Turning to conventional weapons, he condemned the existing illicit trade. More broadly, the international community was capable of achieving fundamental solutions to the range of challenges that were blocking the path towards achieving consensus in the Commission, he concluded.
PHAM QUANG HIEU (Viet Nam), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear disarmament should remain the priority in the disarmament agenda, including in the work of the Commission. Strongly supporting the General Assembly’s call for negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, he said it might be beneficial to consider the need for synergy among recent notable initiatives on nuclear disarmament, including that on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. He stressed the need to redouble efforts to set practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons and expressed a willingness to examine new suggestions to help further the Commission’s work. The disarmament machinery was increasingly facing scepticism regarding its credibility after years of inaction. It was in the world’s collective interest to create favourable conditions to ensure a positive conclusion of the Commission’s current cycle.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed pleasure that the Commission had commenced the first year of its new cycle with an agreed substantive agenda that included an item on nuclear disarmament. The NPT, which was the foundation of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, had succeeded in constraining the spread of nuclear weapons because non-nuclear-weapon States had kept their end of the bargain. However, there was a deep crisis of confidence as the nuclear-weapon States were not honouring their part of the contract. They insisted on a gradual and incremental approach without putting forward any specified timeframe or target date for the total elimination of those weapons. The piecemeal approach had resulted in the current unfortunate circumstances. To date, all achievements in eliminating whole categories of biological and chemical weapons had been made possible through comprehensive, binding, irreversible and verifiable conventions. It was time to deploy that approach to nuclear weapons. The prospect for establishing a zone free of those weapons in the Middle East would be enhanced when certain nuclear-weapon States abandoned their unconstructive policy of exempting Israel from the NPT.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said total and complete nuclear disarmament remained a legal multilateral commitment and countries that had voluntarily renounced their programmes remained a model. Pointing to the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, he said there was an urgent need for a comprehensive approach to their elimination. Efforts must be stepped up to guarantee the universal nature of the NPT by implementing the outcome of the previous Review Conferences, he said, adding that States had an inalienable right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty was an important step towards conventional disarmament.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that while the agenda adopted by the Commission for the current session did not meet expectations of more focused deliberations, he would continue consultations. Without political will, consensus was elusive. However, consensus also required appropriate machinery, he said, underlining the need to improve the Commission’s working methods. The starting point of nuclear disarmament was the fulfilment of existing agreements and everyone should work towards the success of the upcoming NPT Review Conference. His country had identified areas where more bold action was needed. Adherence by Israel to the NPT would enhance confidence in the region. Confidence-building measures on conventional weapons must be based on Charter principles and international law; in particular, respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of States.
ALMUSTAFA MUBARAK HUSSEIN RAHAMTALLA (Sudan) said as the Commission met, it was necessary to start discussions on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. All nuclear facilities, including Israeli, must be submitted to examination by the IAEA. Sudan had acceded to international instruments, including the NPT, and had led efforts towards declaring Africa a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Activities in the nuclear realm must be limited to peaceful uses, he said, emphasizing States rights in that regard. Sudan’s primary concern was the spread of small arms and light weapons, which had been a scourge to his country and region as it dealt with climate-change consequences, including increased competition over water and resources. Those weapons were also linked to transnational organized crime, terrorism and trafficking, and Sudan had worked towards bolstering border patrol and customs checkpoints. Producing States had a responsibility in addressing those concerns. Addressing the root causes of conflict was also important. The Darfur conflict, for example, was rooted in resource scarcity.
ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA (Nigeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored the importance of the Commission as the sole specialized deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, despite the numerous glaring challenges it faced. The continued existence of nuclear weapons remained an existential threat to all mankind, he said, adding that a successful 2015 session of the Commission should provide modest but clear recommendations on the way forward. Despite the numerous challenges in the implementation of its disarmament obligations, the NPT had been largely successful in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Urging nuclear-weapon States to consider the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear explosion, he highlighted the “dangerous spectacle” of the proliferation and use of conventional weapons as choice instruments of destabilization in many regions. The universalization and faithful implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty would help global efforts to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade and use of conventional arms, he stressed.
MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria) said that as the United Nations played a central universal role in disarmament, all Member States must show the political will to allow the Commission to achieve a successful, meaningful outcome. As a State party to the main relevant treaties, Algeria reaffirmed that nuclear disarmament remained its highest priority, with the NPT being the cornerstone of efforts to that end. It was essential to ensure compliance with each of the Treaty’s pillars, he said, calling on all States parties to renew their commitments at the next Review Conference. The total elimination of all nuclear weapons was the only guarantee that they would never be used. Supporting the road map proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement, he called for the effective implementation of General Assembly resolution 69/58, including the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.
Turning to civilian applications of atomic energy, he said it was a strategic choice for developing countries to bolster their economic development and meet their energy security needs. Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones was an important measure towards achieving nuclear disarmament, he said, regretting the lack of action in that regard in the Middle East. Algeria was also concerned about the illicit weapons trade, which was a source of supply to terrorist groups in North Africa and the Sahel regions. International cooperation and assistance were essential in implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects as well as the International Tracing Instrument.
ZAEL ALEXIS FERNÁNDEZ RIVERA (Venezuela) said there was an urgent need for nuclear-weapon States to remove reservations to the protocols of the Latin American and Caribbean Nuclear-Weapon-Free Treaty (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and recognize the de-nuclearized character of the region. Turning to the United States’ recent declaration of his country as a threat to national security, he said the unilateral measure was illegal and threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Venezuela. He asked the Commission how the United States, which spent billions annually on its military and had 662 military bases in 38 countries and 5,113 nuclear bombs, could be threatened by Venezuela, a developing nation. Latin America and the Caribbean was a zone of peace, he said, thanking countries and regional groups for showing support. He hoped the Commission would be able, in this session, to overcome its stalemate and intensify efforts to produce significant results towards complete and irreversible nuclear disarmament.
Right of Reply
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said tensions in his region were worsened by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. In addition to Security Council resolutions, more than 80 United Nations Member States had issued a statement condemning the 2013 tests. Pyongyang must realize that a nuclear arsenal could not guarantee its security. As long as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued its nuclear weapons programme, it would further isolate its economy and make it harder to attract foreign investment. Committing material and financial resources to develop nuclear and missile programmes was further exacerbating the situation. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must abandon its nuclear programme and focus on its people. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea made the right choice, his delegation was prepared to assist. He hoped the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would move in that direction.
Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country was once a party to the NPT but had withdrawn because of the United States’ actions. The nuclear threat from the United States had compelled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to attain nuclear weapons and to increase its nuclear deterrent to safeguard the Korean peninsula. A nuclear test was just one part of a whole story in history, he said, adding that if the Republic of Korea wanted to mention one incident, it should start from the beginning of that story. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was using a nuclear deterrent to safeguard its peace and security, and as long as the hostile policy of the United States continued, his country would not give that up.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also exercising the right of reply, said the Georgian and Ukrainian delegations had used the Commission to discuss issues not on its agenda. On nuclear facilities in the Crimea, the Russian Federation had informed the IAEA of them, fully keeping with international legality. In March 2014, Crimea had acceded to the Russian Federation. As such, his country took upon itself the responsibility of the nuclear facilities. Concerning the claim that the Russian Federation was not recognizing security assurances, he said the common element of those commitments, including in the Budapest Memorandum, was limited to the obligation not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. That commitment was in no way broken, he said, adding that claims arguing against that were being made in bad faith.