Conference on Disarmament continues high-level segment
The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon continued its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from the United States, Canada, Austria, Cuba, Iraq, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Malaysia, Venezuela, Panama, and Slovenia.
Speaking were Anthony J. Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States; Marc Garneau, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Alexander Schallenberg, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba; Fuad Hussein, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq; Felipe Carlos Solá, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina; Andrés Allamand, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile; Luis Gallegos, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador; Arancha González Laya, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain; Dato' Kamarudin Jaffar, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia; Daniela Rodríguez Martínez, Vice Minister for Multilateral Issues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela; Juan Manuel Pino, Minister of Public Security of Panama; and Stanislav Raščan, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia.
The Conference will next meet in public on Tuesday, 23 February at 10 a.m. to continue with the high-level segment.
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, Secretary of State of the United States, said the United States was ready to engage the Russian Federation in strategic stability discussions on arms control and emerging security issues. The United States would also demand greater transparency regarding China's “provocative and dangerous” weapons development programmes. Tensions should be reduced in outer space. The United States would strengthen the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Iran must comply with its safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States remained focused on the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Russian Federation and Syria must comply with their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The United States would do its part to make the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference a success. It was time to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.
MARC GARNEAU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said launching negotiations for a treaty on fissile materials was a critical step toward achieving a more peaceful and secure world. The Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Stockholm Initiative had led to practical recommendations to advance all three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at its upcoming Review Conference. Turning to country situations, he said Syria must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention, and that the attempted assassination of Alexei Navalny in Russia was troubling. Outer space security was also an important area for the Conference to address; advances in artificial intelligence technology and automation were another. Canada's disarmament priorities were supported by its Weapons Threat Reduction Program, which was the country's contribution to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, said the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a milestone, and added that the international community needed to strengthen the other cornerstones of the disarmament architecture. That included, inter alia, broadening the scope of the New START Treaty, for which Austria stood ready to host talks. Lethal autonomous weapons systems without meaningful human control must be banned under international law, and Austria would host a conference on the issue in 2021. Battlefields of Syria, Yemen and Libya showed the need to protect civilians. Austria regretted disputes over who could participate as an observer at the Conference; everyone should have a seat at the table and the right to have their voices heard.
BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, urged the new United States administration to revoke the Trump Administration's designation on 11 January 2021 of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism. It was crucial to preserve disarmament and arms control agreements. Cuba welcomed the United States and the Russian Federation's extension of the New START Treaty, as well as the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. On 4 February, Cuba had deposited its instrument of ratification for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Cuba reiterated the full validity of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Carribean as a Zone of Peace”, which was signed by the regional heads of State and governments.
FUAD HUSSEIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, welcomed the initiative to build on the draft of the work programme package presented by Algeria during its 2020 presidency. Outlining Iraq's viewpoints regarding the main issues on the agenda of the Conference, he said that, while the extension of the New START Treaty was positive, it was not an alternative to comprehensive nuclear disarmament. Regarding negative security assurances, there should be a binding international instrument whereby nuclear weapons States gave assurances to non-nuclear weapons States. Iraq supported the idea of a negotiated mandate to establish an internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material to manufacture nuclear weapons. The Conference should consider an international instrument to prevent the weaponization of outer space.
FELIPE CARLOS SOLÁ, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina , said the international community must take action to prevent an arms race in outer space. Argentina had recently chaired the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. The lack of progress on nuclear disarmament was regrettable, and could only be remedied if the nuclear weapons States demonstrated willingness toward their elimination. Argentina had nuclear activity for peaceful use, and therefore valued venues to discuss disarmament and non-proliferation. The Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accountability and Control of Nuclear Materials could serve as an example for verification and mutual confidence building. Argentina denounced the introduction of nuclear submarines into the South Atlantic, as it was an area of peace. States that still considered nuclear weapons relevant must guarantee that States that had renounced such weapons denuclearized their region be protected from nuclear weapons and the threat of their use.
ANDRÉS ALLAMAND, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said a priority objective for Chile as a member of the P6 would be to begin the process of negotiating a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material for the development of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Chile also called for discussion to address contemporary challenges to security agendas, such as digital technology, cyber security, artificial intelligence and the use of outer space for military purposes. Listing important treaties related to disarmament to which Chile was a State party, he announced that the National Congress had initiated the ratification process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear weapons States must reevaluate the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines. Compliance not only with treaties but also with Security Council resolutions was essential to multilateral disarmament.
LUIS GALLEGOS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown the absurdity of spending billions of dollars a year on weapons while health systems lacked resources. The world needed to rethink its priorities and drastically reduce its arms spending, redirecting the money towards education, food, the fight against poverty and climate change. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons marked a milestone. Welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty, he added that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference offered an opportunity to reiterate and deepen previous commitments. Other important review conferences would be held for the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons as well as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Conference on Disarmament needed to be part of a renewed multilateral momentum on non-proliferation and disarmament.
ARANCHA GONZÁLEZ LAYA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain , said the upcoming Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference must achieve tangible results, and Spain for that reason was participating with 15 other countries in the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. Spain would hold a Review Conference for the Biological Weapons Convention, which was timely given the global COVID-19 pandemic. At an upcoming Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Spain together with European Union partners would reflect on new technologies and regulation of its possible military uses. As for the functioning of the Conference, Spain was aligning with the six presidencies' proposal in order to achieve substantial progress. A fissile material cutoff treaty would be decisive for the fight against proliferation. Spain embraced the vision of combining disarmament measures with sustainable development objectives.
DATO' KAMARUDIN JAFFAR, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a landmark which would complement existing international legal instruments relating to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, particularly the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. That Treaty's upcoming Review Conference in August called for States parties to remain committed and strive towards its success. Malaysia supported the Secretary-General's call to “reverse the erosion of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, and welcomed the United States and the Russian Federation's extension of the New START Treaty. For the Conference to move forward, all Member States should demonstrate strong political will and exercise flexibility.
DANIELA RODRÍGUEZ MARTÍNEZ, Vice Minister for Multilateral Issues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela , said that a comprehensive review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons would constitute progress towards a nuclear weapon-free world. At the Review Conference, equitable participation of all States parties was needed. A legally binding instrument on the peaceful use of outer space was essential. Venezuela welcomed Cuba's ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, as well as the extension of the New START Treaty, and expressed concerns about lethal autonomous weapons systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles, which in 2018 were used in an assassination attempt against President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela and the Caribbean were a zone of peace and a zone free of nuclear weapons.
JUAN MANUEL PINO, Minister of Public Security of Panama, noted that Panama in 2019 had ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had recently entered into force. Until complete nuclear disarmament was completed, it would remain necessary for the international community to establish effective mechanisms to guarantee the security of non-nuclear weapons States. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly new types of weapons and systems, were a threat to world peace and democratic stability. Nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons must be addressed within a multilateral cooperation framework. By historical vocation, Panama was committed to achieving peace in a world without nuclear weapons. As an observer to the Conference, Panama reaffirmed its condemnation of any threat to world peace and international security.
STANISLAV RAŠČAN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said immediate negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty was a logical step upon which to embark. Enlargement of the membership of the Conference on Disarmament was overdue. Welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty, he also urged States to use the upcoming Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference to achieve concrete progress on Article VI. Slovenia urged all countries which had not yet done so to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Reiterating support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he called on Iran to refrain from escalatory steps. Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he called on Pyongyang to return to meaningful negotiations. As a promoter of gender equality and women's empowerment, he added that Slovenia supported initiatives promoting women's participation in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.