Conference on Disarmament continues high-level segment
Hears from the Russian Federation, Belarus, Norway, Iran, the Holy See, Jordan, and Portugal
The Conference on Disarmament this morning continued its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from the Russian Federation, Belarus, Norway, Iran, the Holy See, Jordan, and Portugal.
Speaking were Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus; Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway; Baghaei Hamaneh, Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See; Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan; and Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
The Conference will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to conclude the high-level segment.
SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said in 2020 the United States had substituted international law and the United Nations’ central role with some global “rules-based order” imposed by Washington. But the extension of the New START Treaty was encouraging. Maintaining restraint in the missile sphere following the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty remained a top priority. Russia’s proposal not to deploy ground-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in any region unless United States-made missiles were deployed there remained on the table. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s continuing practice of “nuclear sharing” ran counter to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and was inadmissible. On the Review Conference, all three elements of the Treaty should be consolidated, ensuring their balanced interconnectedness. He urged all parties to consider the Russian initiative to develop at the Conference an international convention on chemical and biological terrorism.
VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, said that in the last 20 years the world hadn’t become more stable or predictable, and warned against the spiral of a new arms race. Ignoring international agreements in the area of disarmament and arms control led to distrust and tension. Any armed conflict would undermine socio-economic achievements and lead to regression in the field of development. The extension of the New START Treaty was an important step towards overcoming that negative trend as well as for strengthening existing mechanisms and developing new agreements in the field of arms control and disarmament. Belarus was ready for constructive and robust work and had put forward initiatives to develop a multilateral political declaration on the non-deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles to fill the legal vacuum created after the termination of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles.
AUDUN HALVORSEN, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said Norway was fully committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Noting that 2021 would be an important year for international arms control, he said the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was a cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses. As the global stockpile of nuclear weapons had been reduced over the past five decades, the Treaty had been a success. At a ministerial meeting held in Berlin last year, 22 concrete actions or “Stepping Stones” had been identified by 16 countries, a proposal all States should support. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty, and multilateral progress on nuclear disarmament verification were key steps towards nuclear disarmament. Norway welcomed the agreement to extend the New START Treaty, which contributed to stability and created an impetus for arms control.
BAGHAEI HAMANEH, Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, called on States to urge Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and bring its nuclear facilities under the safeguard and verification procedure of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran’s nuclear programme continued to be absolutely peaceful, and Iran was impeccably committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action despite violations by the United States and others. It was absurd for States to ask Iran to return to full compliance while they either kept themselves out of the agreement, were in material breach of its terms, or remained in non-performance of their commitments to appease major violators. The United States was still a non-participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and carried on the criminal and wrongful legacy of the previous administration. The onus was on the offending party to return to the agreement, compensate for damages, and assure that it would not renege it again.
PAUL RICHARD GALLAGHER, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, said that while the importance of disarmament was particularly evident for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, it applied just as strongly to increased military competition in outer space, in cyberspace and artificial intelligence. Without overlooking the complexity of disarmament and arms control, the Holy See had two proposals for the Conference. Firstly, an expert study on the issue of verification could inform possible future negotiations on disarmament and arms control; it was worthwhile to make use of new technologies to enhance reliable verification. Secondly, the resumption of a formal discussion on limitations of armament and on general and complete disarmament would be beneficial to the Committee’s work. Disarmament was an ethical imperative, he stated.
AYMAN SAFADI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, said the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the interdependence of security interests and the centrality of multilateral action. The Conference should focus on expanding membership, as this meant more participation in decision-making, and thus an increase in acceptance of decisions. Jordan called for the launch of a comprehensive and balanced dialogue so a comprehensive document that reflected a broader consensus in the field of disarmament may be adopted at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. Jordan had joined the Stockholm Initiative and hosted its third Ministerial Conference, which adopted an expanded plan of action. It was important to implement the 1995 Review Conference resolution on a nuclear- and weapons of mass destruction-free Middle East zone. The Middle East stood at a crossroads; it would be either further conflict, and therefore more armament, or a regional environment where full cooperation, dialogue and peace prevailed.
AUGUSTO SANTOS SILVA, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, regretted that a Member State of the European Union and other United Nations Member States had been denied observer status in the Conference, and invited Turkey and Iran to review their positions on this matter. The Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons needed a results-oriented process. The only credible way towards nuclear disarmament was a step-by-step approach that considered the wider security context. Key steps to an irreversible nuclear disarmament process were the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. On non-nuclear matters, the repeated use of chemical weapons and the relaxation of restrictions on anti-personnel landmines were concerning. Portugal was one of the longest-standing observer States that had expressed interest in joining the Conference, and expected to see a solution to that matter in the near future.