Speakers today underscored the crucial link between disarmament and sustainable development, alongside a grave concern over the future of the fitful global arms control agenda, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate.
Zambia’s representative said the vision of a world in which no one is left behind � the core tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – will be untenable if the threat posed by nuclear weapons is not addressed. The time is now for the world to completely shift from armament issues and concentrate on the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, adding that the colossal sums spent on nuclear weapons research, manufacturing and testing could save many lives if used to eradicate poverty and improve health care.
Fiji’s delegate stressed that without peace and security, the Sustainable Development Goals will be unachievable. He went on to spotlight the enduring impact of more than 300 nuclear weapon tests in the Pacific region, including environmental degradation and long term health issues among the population.
Indonesia’s speaker said the international community’s preoccupation with armaments and the volatile security situation should not become a stumbling block to achieving development goals and prosperity. He called for fresh initiatives to address setbacks in the disarmament agenda as well as collective efforts to address the potential threats of weaponizing cyberspace and outer space.
Noting how the spread of small arms and light weapons fuels terrorism in his country, Afghanistan’s representative called for broader efforts to promote regional stability. He also called for more decisive international action to address the widespread use of improvised explosive devices, which kill thousands ever year, and the trafficking of such precursors as dynamite and ammonium nitrate.
Liberia’s delegate raised similar concerns over the way in which small arms and light weapons have an impact on humanitarian and socioeconomic development. In the same vein, Sudan’s representative said his country suffers from the economic impact of such weapons, particularly in the context of climate change and competition for water and other resources among tribal groups.
Representatives of Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman were among those voicing support for establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the subject of a conference at Headquarters in November. We must avoid a race in the possession of these [nuclear] weapons that are so destructive, added Saudi Arabia’s delegate.
Other speakers today raised a wide range of concerns, including the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and issues involving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Also speaking today were representatives of Georgia, Guinea, Philippines, Senegal, Belarus, Eritrea, Hungary, Chile, Spain, Ghana and Malawi.
Representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Yemen spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The First Committee will reconvene on Wednesday, 16 October, at 3 p.m., to continue its general debate.
MEMET MEVLAT YAKUT (Turkey) said that the world’s security environment has deteriorated, leading to an erosion of the non proliferation and disarmament architecture. In 2020, Turkey will support a strengthened and universalized Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, based on its three pillars � non proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of atomic energy. Turkey strongly supports progress on convening a conference on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East, making it free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. He also encouraged the United States and the Russian Federation to seek further reductions to their arsenals. He commended the work being conducted to investigate and prosecute people responsible for crimes under international law committed in Syria since March 2011.
SALOME IMNADZE (Georgia), sharing some recent achievements, said his country conducted a peer review exercise in November at its National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health, in line with his delegation’s commitment to implementing Shortcut key leads to this wrong title: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. A report on the exercise showed that the facility demonstrated significant transparency about its research and diagnostic activities. Expressing concern about the proliferation of nuclear and radioactive materials, he recalled that in recent years, incidents of smuggling such materials through Georgia’s occupied territories have been recorded. In the absence of international presence in those territories, it has become virtually impossible to conduct verification activities. Moreover, the Russian Federation continues its military build up in these territories, disregarding its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreement.
CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said the vision of a world in which no one is left behind will be untenable if the threat posed by nuclear weapons is not addressed. Compliance by Member States with disarmament obligations is moving at a snail’s pace, compounded by reduced financial contributions to the United Nations by some countries. Recalling that her country signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in September, she appealed to other States to follow suit, citing former United States President Ronald Reagan as saying it is the moral imperative of all to work for that day when the world’s children can grow up without fear of nuclear weapons. The time is now for the world to completely shift from armament issues and concentrate on the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, adding that the colossal sums spent on nuclear weapons research, manufacturing and testing could save many lives if used to eradicate poverty and improve health care.
SAUD HAMAD GHANEM HAMAD ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said that the Middle East recently witnessed several unprecedented attacks, such as ones made on vital and civil installations in Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates notes the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its verification programme in ensuring nuclear security and safety. As such, his delegation strongly supported the establishment of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons as a priority. The United Arab Emirates also recognizes the importance of enhancing international cooperation in the field of information and telecommunications security. As such, it has established a national cybersecurity strategy to protect various domestic sectors and to increase awareness about risks related to the unsafe use of the Internet.
MORIBA KOLIE (Guinea), associating himself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction cannot guarantee international stability and security. In fact, their existence undermines the Sustainable Development Goals, and eliminating such weapons should be at the heart of Member States’ concerns. Guinea favours any process concerning discussions on fissile material for use in weapons. Calling for the universalization of the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said disarmament first and foremost is the primary responsibility of States, but must be facilitated through a transparent multilateral approach, including at regional and subregional levels. Commending the work of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, he encouraged stakeholders to lend their support.
AHMED AL ZADJALI (Oman), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the Group of Arab States, said only collective efforts on the basis of international conventions, treaties and the Charter of the United Nations will help to achieve peaceful solutions in conflict affected areas such as the Middle East. In this regard, he emphasized the importance of establishing in the region a zone free of atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, and expressed support for convening a conference on the issue, calling on all Member States to participate. The Non Proliferation Treaty reflects the international community’s commitment to disarmament and non proliferation, and all delegations, including Israel, should sign it, he said, adding that the right of all States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes must be respected. Condemning the stagnation in existing initiatives and past failures, including the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, he called for new bold policies to achieve peace and security.
MARIA TERESA T. ALMOJUELA (Philippines), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), underlined the importance of the Non Proliferation Treaty, particularly IAEA contributions towards accelerating the use of nuclear energy for peaceful uses in developing countries. Concerned about the deepening distrust among States and the modernization of arsenals, she called on States to fulfil their Treaty commitments and reconsider withdrawal from critical agreements like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme. As nuclear weapon free zones are critical for reinforcing global disarmament, she said such an area should be set up in the Middle East. Meanwhile, given that the proliferation of conventional weapons contributes to alarming instability in the world, she said the Philippines became a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in January. She also pledged to cooperate fully with efforts to fight cybercrime and to mainstream gender issues in disarmament processes.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said the proliferation of weapons that bypass arms control mechanisms is a result of growing mistrust in the international arena, causing much suffering in many parts of the world. Without peace and security, the Sustainable Development Goals will be unachievable. He recalled that more than 300 nuclear weapon tests have been carried out in the Pacific region, with their effects still being felt in the form of environmental degradation and growing health challenges among the population. The long term impact of such testing on food and marine ecology are a growing concern amid questions about the stability of atoll structures. Only recently has Fiji been able to provide compensation to those persons deployed to observe nuclear tests. He went on to emphasize the impact of climate change on security, stating that local conflicts can all too quickly become regional and international conflicts. He also noted that his country is in the process of ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which it signed in 2017.
CHEIKH AHMADOU BAMBA GAYE (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, regretting to note the current stalemate in the disarmament architecture, said respect for negotiations under the main relevant treaties is vital to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. In a similar vein, he called for talks addressing existing stockpiles of fissile materials, highlighting the right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under IAEA safeguards. He also called for stronger efforts to avoid the manufacture of biological, radiological and chemical weapons. In addition, Member States must not allow their differences to hamper efforts to prevent the weaponization of outer space and cyberspace. Noting the importance of fighting against conventional weapons trafficking, he said small arms are the real weapons of mass destruction, urging all States to implement the Arms Trade Treaty. Upcoming conferences about small arms and light weapons should include the issue of the humanitarian consequences of their use and proliferation.
NIKOLAI KERNOZHITSKY (Belarus) regretted to note the deterioration of the international peace and security architecture alongside the demise of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which makes the proliferation of missiles and military confrontation a real possibility in Europe. Emphasizing that trust must be built to stabilize international relations and security, he highlighted a need for a new agenda and new ideas to prevent the placement and manufacture of intermediate and short range missiles in Europe. Indeed, the Non Proliferation Treaty must be the cornerstone of disarmament, he said, adding that parallel attempts are counterproductive. Anticipating fresh ideas and momentum ahead of the Non Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference, he said the instrument must be strengthened. To address related issues, he called for creating a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East and for dialogue among stakeholders on the Korean Peninsula, which can stabilize the region and the world. Given the current security landscape, he warned against an arms race developing in outer space and online.
ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said achieving peace and security in any region requires an inclusive regional conflict mechanism that can organically evolve to address specific challenges. Developments within countries and in regional relationships have put the Horn of Africa on a positive trajectory for peace and prosperity. However, the existence of nuclear weapons and an impending atomic arms race pose an existential threat to humanity. The full implementation of the Non Proliferation Treaty and the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are key to achieving a world free of those arms, she said, adding that Eritrea believes the legally binding negative assurance, establishment of nuclear free zones and the universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty are critical steps along the way.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), associating himself with the Group of Arab States, renewed his country’s condemnation of the recent terrorist attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which represented a clear threat to the world’s petroleum supply. Bahrain supports any measures taken by Saudi Arabia to protect its security and stability. He also voiced strong support for all efforts to establish for a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. In addition, all international agreements aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space must be respected.
PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, said the international community’s preoccupation with armaments and the volatile security situation should not become a stumbling block to achieving development goals and prosperity. Emphasizing that the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction is the only guarantee against their use and threat of use, as well as their humanitarian and environmental consequences, he said States parties must uphold and implement existing arms control agreements. He also called for new approaches and initiatives to address setbacks in the disarmament agenda as well as collective efforts to address the potential threats of weaponizing cyberspace and outer space.
GYORGY MOLNA�R (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union, said a successful outcome of the 2020 Review Conference of the Non Proliferation Treaty is the most important task ahead for the international community. The focus must be on those areas where common ground exists, he said, emphasizing that only an incremental process that engages nuclear weapon States can produce tangible results. He underscored the need to bring into force the Test Ban Treaty as well as a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Hungary will do its utmost as Chair of the Disarmament Commission to enable that body to resume its work in 2020.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) underscored the importance of the universalization of the Non Proliferation Treaty and the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Trafficking in small arms and light weapons is a scourge with untold destructive effects as well as a direct impact on socioeconomic development and human rights, he said, calling on the international community to tackle the problem together. Underscoring Chile’s support for general and complete disarmament, he called on the international community to demonstrate political will and create a climate of mutual trust in order to pursue effective strategies.
AGUSTA�N SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2020 Review Conference will be a challenge for all, but participants must ensure substantial discussions and aim for the broadest possible consensus. Spotlighting Spain’s total unwavering support for the Treaty, he called on nuclear weapon States to fulfil their commitments under article VI. Spain is aware of the current international security context, but it is vital to keep aiming for disarmament. Welcoming the proposed stepping stones initiative, he went on to call for the swift entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty and the conclusion of an instrument on fissile material. Spain supports the Joint Plan of Action, but deeply regretted the United States’ withdrawal from that instrument and underlined the need for Iran to uphold its commitments.
MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said the objective of a world free of nuclear weapons in the context of the Non Proliferation Treaty has proven to be elusive for decades. With the 2020 Review Conference approaching, international efforts to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles must be strengthened. A safe and secure world should be one in which there are no nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and where the common good of the people and the planet are pursed within a rules based international order. The divisiveness that has beset the Conference on Disarmament must not be allowed to creep into other disarmament bodies, she said, adding that Ghana is well along the path to ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. She expressed concern at the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, particularly in conflict areas in Africa. However, Ghana looks forward to progress on implementing the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
OMER AHMED MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the African Group, Non Aligned Movement and Group of Arab States, said peace cannot be achieved in the presence of nuclear weapons. Recalling that Africa is a nuclear weapon free zone and should also be a region free of chemical weapons, he underlined the importance of the upcoming conference on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. At the same time, he defended the rights of all countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Calling on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said the instrument is a solid base to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. However, one of Sudan’s main priorities is controlling the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he said, adding: We suffer from their economic impact. The presence of these weapons has an impact at a time when climate change is affecting the environment and competition for water and food resources persists among tribes. In this vein, he underlined the link between these weapons and criminal and drug trafficking groups, pointing at the responsibility that manufacturing States have to ensure that their products do not fall into the hands of non State actors.
KHALED MOHAMMED H. ALMANZLAWIY (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of Arab States and Non Aligned Movement, underscored efforts made towards the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. Peace and stability will not come from the possession of atomic bombs, but through cooperation among neighbours. We must avoid a race in the possession of these weapons that are so destructive, he said. Regretting to note that Israel rejects to join the Non Proliferation Treaty, he called for its stockpile and installations to be placed under IAEA safeguards. Meanwhile, Iran is in violation of its nuclear obligations under IAEA safeguards, he said, adding that Tehran has spent its economic revenue on financing terrorism in the region and attacks against Saudi oil industries, which has led to a 50 per cent decline in crude oil production. Condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he called for perpetrators to be held accountable.
SAYED MIRAGHA MUSADDEQ (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said the Test Ban Treaty and the Non Proliferation Treaty are key elements that help to ensure a systematic decrease in the proliferation of nuclear arms. In this vein, he expressed hope that States will cooperate in the Non Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference. Only through multilateral diplomacy will humanity achieve a nuclear weapon free world, he said, calling for the creation of such a zone in the Middle East. Regretting to note how the spread of small arms and light weapons facilitates and fuels terrorist activities in his country, he called for broader efforts to promote stability in the region alongside collaboration to implement the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. In addition, he called on international actors to take more decisive action to address the widespread use of improvised explosive devices by terrorists in Afghanistan � which kills thousands of people every year � and the continued trafficking of precursors such as dynamite and ammonium nitrate.
DEE-MAXWELL SAAH KEMAYAH, SR (Liberia) noted that the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs also promotes efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially anti personnel mines and small arms commonly used in civil conflicts, as was the case in his country. As such, his delegation is greatly concerned about the illicit trade, possession, manufacturing and circulation of small arms and light weapons and the negative effects on humanitarian and socioeconomic development. In this context, Liberia is taking practical steps against the proliferation of such weapons, including the ratification and domestication of relevant treaties. It has also made great strides on strengthening its legal framework on domesticating the Arms Trade Treaty in addition to the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, drafting two bills to enact into law that will be submitted to the legislature in 2020.
GEORGE ALEXANDER JAFFU, JR (Malawi) said that his country signed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunitions and Other Related Materials in 2002. It is not highly affected by the illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons compared to neighbouring countries, but Malawi’s people still suffer significantly from their use. As evidence, he cited the apparent increase in the recovery of illegal firearms by the Malawi Police Service. Moreover, Malawi is interested in working with international partners to promote the responsible and peaceful use of outer space, because the development of space technology holds immense potential for both developed and developing countries.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to statements delivered by his counterparts from the United States and Japan. Pyongyang will not seek negotiations with the United States until that country’s policies towards it are changed. Japan is not qualified to have discussions on substantive issues until it addresses its past crimes against humanity, he said, adding that the statements made by Hungary and Spain deserve no comment.
The representative of Iran, responding to his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, said his country’s nuclear activities fall under the supervision of the IAEA which has confirmed its compliance. Saudi Arabia’s nuclear activities are not transparent, despite requests by the Agency under the safeguard system. Moreover, Saudi Arabia exports terrorism and extremism throughout the world, he said, emphasizing that foreign terrorists have been supported, trained and armed by Riyadh’s petrodollars. Saudi Arabia is also committing war crimes in Yemen.
The representative of Saudi Arabia said Iran’s allegations are baseless. Referring to the last IAEA report, he said it contains statements by Iranian officials on reducing its nuclear activities. Since 1979, Iran has destabilized the region, disregarding all conventions and treaties and moral standards, he observed. In clear violation of sovereignty and in a show of interference, he said Iran has recruited terrorist militias in a number of Arab States, supporting terrorism by providing safe havens. It has also persecuted diplomats around the world through assassinations or attempts to assassinate, he observed. Peace and security in the Middle East requires deterring Iran from its expansionist policies, he said, noting that his delegation seeks a peaceful resolution in Yemen.
The representative of Iran, in a second intervention, said his delegation rejects the allegations made by Saudi Arabia. He also invited Riyadh to study the text of the Joint Plan of Action, noting that there has been no case of Iran’s non cooperation with IAEA. Al Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) were created and supported by Saudi Arabia, he said, adding that the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States were supported and financed by Saudi Arabia. Al Qaida and Da’esh are operating as proxies of Saudi Arabia, which is an accomplice in those crimes. On the issue of Yemen, he said Saudi Arabia has invaded that country and is bombarding its defenceless people.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, taking the floor for a second time, said Iran sponsors terrorism, including the Houthis in Yemen, which led to Saudi Arabia’s interference based on a call from its brethren. Iran has harboured many of Al Qaida’s leaders, he said, recalling that in 1996, residential towers in Saudi Arabia were attacked by Hizbullah, affiliated with the Iranian regime. In 2003, a terrorist plot supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was defeated. Iran was also involved in an attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador in Washington, D.C., he said. also detailing attacks against Saudi Arabian embassies in Tehran.
The representative of Japan regretted to note that diplomatic efforts were not fruitful in ensuring a complete verifiable and total dismantlement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme. Plutonium in Japan remains under IAEA safeguards, he said, emphasizing that no country can possess plutonium without specific purposes.
The representative of Yemen said his counterpart from Iran has fabricated allegations when saying Saudi Arabia has occupied Yemen and is killing Yemenis. Instead, Saudi Arabia is acting upon request to restore the legitimate government of Yemen after a political coup by the Houthi rebel group. He asked Iran to cease the supply of weapons and support to Houthi rebels.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea responded to his counterpart from Japan, saying that his comments are not appropriate or relevant, so I feel no need to comment or reply on them.
Source: United Nations