CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT OPENS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT
Hears From Sweden, Germany, India, Ireland, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Japan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, and Estonia.
The Conference on Disarmament this morning opened its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from Sweden, Germany, India, Ireland, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Japan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, and Estonia.
Speaking were Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden; Heiko Maas, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany; Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of India; Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland; Sameh Shoukry, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt; Stef Blok, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Tharaka Balasuriya, State Minister of Regional Co-Operation of Sri Lanka; Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Kenya; Washio Eiichoro, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Sophie Wilmès, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium; Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria; Jarmo Viinane, Ambassador for Arms Control, Political Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland; and Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister for Foregin Affairs of Estonia.
The Conference will next meet in public today at 3 p.m., to continue with the high-level segment.
ANN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, welcomed the agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the New START Treaty. Sweden strongly encouraged further talks and negotiations, including with China, on broader arms control agreements. Looking ahead to the upcoming Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she said progress was needed in regard to article VI. That article calls upon the Parties to the Treaty to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament…”, she recalled. The Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, consisting of 16 non-nuclear weapons States, aimed to make progress through ministerial meetings, among other measures, with the goal of advancing nuclear disarmament and achieving a successful outcome of the Review Conference.
HEIKO MAAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the Stockholm Initiative presented practical steps toward getting nuclear disarmament back on track, and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative coalition of States had made valuable recommendations to strengthen all aspects of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. To counter proliferation and end impunity, Germany as a participant in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action expected Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also demanded the international community’s attention, as did Syria’s confirmed use of chemical weapons against its own population. The international community needed to rethink arms control as technology changed. The Biological Weapons Convention should be updated at the next Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
HARSH VARDHAN SHRINGLA, Foreign Secretary of India, welcomed the extension of the START Treaty and added that India advocated a comprehensive and balanced programme of work for the Conference. India reiterated its call for the Conference to undertake the steps outlined in India’s 2007 Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament, including negotiation in the Conference of a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention. India had supported negotiations of a fissile material cutoff treaty. India looked forward to negotiations on a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. In line with the emphasis of the General Assembly’s first Special Session on Disarmament, India invited member States to participate in an annual international security fellowship programme to advance disarmament education.
SIMON COVENEY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said the international community's priority must be to implement existing commitments and respond to emerging challenges. He encouraged countries that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Turning to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, he commended Cuba for having ratified it, and called on each of the Annex 2 States —which participated in its negotiation and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time— to also sign and ratify that treaty. Looking ahead to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference, he expressed hope that there might be progress made on disarmament. Ireland remained committed to the protection of civilians in conflict, and would continue efforts to reach agreement on a political declaration that addressed the consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
MUKHTAR TILEUBERDI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan , said the recent entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons complemented the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which remained a cornerstone of the global non-proliferation architecture, and whose upcoming Review Conference needed to yield specific tasks for the next cycle. Noting that a core principle of the Conference on Disarmament was consensus, he said nuclear disarmament issues, a fissile material cutoff treaty, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances should stay among key priorities. Kazakhstan had proposed the establishment of a special multilateral body —an international agency for biological safety that would be accountable to the Security Council—, and would soon present a concept paper on the proposal.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, expressed support for holding a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament. The international community had failed to implement Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons because of the disregard of nuclear weapons States. Egypt called on them to disarm, and affirmed its support for a treaty banning the production of fissile materials including existing stock. A binding instrument on the peaceful use of outer space was of great importance. Recalling the outcomes of the Review Conferences in 1995, 2000 and 2010, he called on Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Looking ahead to the upcoming Review Conference, he called for a balanced outcome that would reaffirm political commitments to a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Egypt called on all relevant member States to participate in the second round of a conference on such a zone scheduled in November 2021.
STEF BLOK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty. Discussions in the Conference were too important to be blocked by procedural arguments, such as what was happening on the topic of a fissile material cutoff treaty. The Netherlands' “Back to Basics” working paper set guidelines addressing this matter. Looking ahead to the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he said nuclear weapons countries needed to take responsibility. As Chair of Main Committee III, the Netherlands would focus on transparency, risk reduction, crisis stability and management; it welcomed the related United Kingdom-sponsored resolution from the General Assembly's First Committee. As Chair of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Netherlands called on those outside that Convention to join the 164 States that had already signed up.
THARAKA BALASURIYA, State Minister of Regional Co-operation of Sri Lanka, said the extension of the New START Treaty was a positive step. A legally binding instrument on unconditional negative security assurances was equally important for non-nuclear weapons States. Sri Lanka supported ensuring nuclear non-proliferation through controlling the use of fissile materials, and noted the importance of a binding agreement on the peaceful use of outer space. The full implementation of treaties covering biological and chemical weapons was important to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Discussions on lethal autonomous weapons systems should not be overcome by technological realities. Sri Lanka reaffirmed its commitment to reviving the Conference on Disarmament as was evident during its presidency in 2018.
RAYCHELLE OMAMO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said the Conference on Disarmament's unique mandate on multilateral arms control made it an integral forum for the maintenance of global peace and security. Geopolitical posturing, heightened tensions, and increased spending on sophisticated weapons harmed the fragile international security environment. Kenya welcomed the positive strides taken by the United States and the Russian Federation in extending the New START Treaty for five years. While Kenya welcomed these bilateral arrangements, it firmly believed that the ultimate assurance for a safer world lay in multilateral arrangements. Kenya regretted the impasse within the Conference, and would join other members who were progressive to adopt a pragmatic approach on the issue of the programme of work.
WASHIO EIICHIRO, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, reiterated the importance of commencing negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, and said the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty was also vital. At the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Japan would make concrete proposals as common ground for countries with divergent views, including a General Assembly resolution on nuclear disarmament, the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, and the Stockholm Initiative, as well as a meeting for substantive advancement of nuclear disarmament. Welcoming the New START Treaty extension, he added that the full implementation of Security Council resolutions regarding disarmament of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was indispensable. Japan would continue to cooperate closely with Conference members to promote nuclear disarmament.
SOPHIE WILMÈS, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Trade of Belgium , welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty, and said the Conference should be inspired by that accord. Belgium regretted certain members' actions against the participation of others as observers. Looking ahead to the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she said it was important for India, Israel and Pakistan to rejoin this Treaty without delay and without preconditions. Belgium encouraged the United States and the Russian Federation to seize the opportunity for negotiations aimed at reducing the number of nuclear weapons in all categories, and encouraged China to draw inspiration from the United Kingdom and France, which had reduced their nuclear stockpiles. A moratorium by China on the production of fissile material for military purposes and greater transparency regarding its doctrine and positioning would also be positive steps.
EKATERINA ZAHARIEVA, Deputy Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria , noted that her country held one of the six presidencies of the Conference for 2021. The extension of the New START Treaty created positive momentum for the upcoming Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. Bulgaria called on all States which had not yet done so to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. A fissile material cutoff treaty was the logical next step in nuclear disarmament. Bulgaria was a member of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and called for the full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The P6 proposal for a programme of work could be a basis for fulfilling the Conference’s mandate. Expanding the Conference’s membership could be one way to add relevance to its work.
JARMO VIINANEN, Ambassador for Arms Control at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland , said the focus must remain on a successful Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Stockholm Initiative combined ambition and realism, and Finland hoped that it, together with an initiative called Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament, would pave the way towards achieving nuclear disarmament. Welcoming the New START Treaty extension, he encouraged the biggest nuclear powers to expand the scope of nuclear arms control to cover non-strategic nuclear weapons and new types of weapons systems. There was no shortcut to a world free of nuclear weapons with increased security for all.
EVA-MARIA LIIMETS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said the re-emergence of chemical weapons was a worrying trend, and condemned the poisoning of a Russian opposition leader with a military chemical nerve agent. Expressing support for the commencement of negotiations within the Conference on a fissile material cutoff treaty, she reiterated Estonia's wish to participate equally as a Member State. In that context, Estonia regretted the rejection of several observer state requests, including that of Cyprus. The Conference should be able to address new challenges such as the weaponization of new technologies, cyber threats and other emerging issues. The Conference should build on the good will seen recently to get back on track.