CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONTINUES HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT
Hears From Belarus, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Italy, Syrian Arab Republic, Iran, Japan, the European Union, South Africa, and Senegal
The Conference on Disarmament this morning continued its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Italy, Syrian Arab Republic, Iran, Japan, the European Union, South Africa, and Senegal.
Speaking were Yury Ambrazevich, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus; Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan; Park Yong-Min, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy; Fayssal Mekdad, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic; Hossein Amir-Aabdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Marjolijn Deelen, European Union Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Head of Division for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service; Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa; and Aïssata Tall Sall, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad of the Republic of Senegal.
The Conference will next meet in public today at 3 p.m., to continue the high-level segment.
High-Level Segment Statements
YURY AMBRAZEVICH, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, said that five years ago, Belarus warned about the great tragedy that a new armed conflict in Europe would bring as it pointed to multiple signs of a growing global security crisis. He lamented the helplessness of the Conference for the past 20 years, the constant expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the East, and the refusal of the United States to discuss extending the guarantee to Eastern Europe. “Was there an opportunity to restore balance and equilibrium in Europe?”, he asked. He further expressed deep concern over his country’s security, as the “Global West” had applied economic measures and intended to change Belarus’ legitimate regime. The military actions in Ukraine threatened Belarus’ existence. Belarus had the right to defend itself to direct threat to its security. It was clear that continuous militarization of conflict in Ukraine with long-range weapons would increase the risk of new States being drawn into the conflict. Such actions would soon lead to a direct confrontation of nuclear states. He asked whether the Conference could prevent a third World War. The unified actions of influential countries and structures would prevent a global conflict. The world needed new security guarantees in which the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation could play a role. The disaster in Ukraine was shaking the entire world. There was no alternative to peace negotiations. Belarus would hold an international discussion on the cluster of security issues in Eurasia to discuss the problem of universal militarization.
MUKHTAR TILEUBERDI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, believed that the resumption of dialogue between nuclear powers was necessary as never before. Two years ago, the extension of the New START Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States was welcomed by all. It was now important that the five nuclear-weapon States demonstrated their firm commitment to the joint statement adopted in January 2022 on the inadmissibility of nuclear war. He stressed the need to develop further confidence-building and risk reduction measures as presented during the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference. The growing number of ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a clear demonstration that nuclear disarmament was of paramount priority. It was regrettable that the Conference had been unable to conclude any substantive negotiations since 1996. Nuclear disarmament was one of the urgent priorities. He said Kazakhstan was ready to constructively contribute to discussions on a fissile material cut-off treaty, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances. He also welcomed the expansion of the Conference membership. Further, he added that the Conference had negotiated one of the most important multilateral disarmament treaties: the 1972 Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons. However, after five decades, it still lacked a mechanism to coordinate its implementation. The President of Kazakhstan had proposed the establishment of a special multilateral body, the International Agency for Biological Safety. This body could operate as an executive body of the Convention and pay special attention to the needs of developing countries.
PARK YONG-MIN, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, expressed concerns about another challenging year amidst a precarious and complex global security environment. The war against Ukraine had brought devastating consequences for international peace and security, seriously undermining global disarmament efforts. The Russian Federation was acting counter to the very international framework and regime that it played a part in forming. It was imperative to restore international stability and strengthen global security. The five nuclear weapons States needed to follow through on the joint statement that they issued a year ago. The Republic of Korea had been sparing no effort to contribute to strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It was fully committed to bringing the Conference back to normalcy and restoring its prestige as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The immediate commencement of the long-overdue negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty should enjoy the focused attention and efforts that it deserved. As far as the prevention of an arms race in outer space was concerned, he appreciated valuable discussions being conducted in the ongoing Open-Ended Working Group and was confident that those deliberations could lead to tangible outcomes. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the only country in the 21st century that conducted nuclear tests, seemed ready to conduct its seventh nuclear test. This not only posed a direct threat to peace and security, it also critically undermined the fundamental credibility of the international non-proliferation regime.
ANTONIO TAJANI, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said that today more than ever, the world needed a renewed commitment to peace. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. He called on all parties to implement the Treaty, as well as to facilitate the rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The war in Ukraine was a threat to international security and the Russian Federation’s nuclear threats were irresponsible. He supported the International Atomic Energy Agency in its efforts to promote a safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy around the world. Iran remained a threat to regional and international security. He further condemned missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and asked it to refrain from provocation. The State should take steps towards denuclearization. The Conference had a crucial role to play, and it was a common responsibility of all member States to preserve its role.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic, explained that over the past years, Syria had faced an unjust war during which countries drew in tens of thousands of foreign terrorists from all over the world and provided them with various types of support and weapons. He highlighted the urgent need to work jointly to find a mechanism to coordinate international efforts to address acts of chemical terrorism. He renewed his support for the initiative put forward by the Russian Federation before the Conference to combat chemical and biological terrorism. For its part, the Syrian Arab Republic acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 and had respected its obligations under the Convention. He lamented that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had fallen “into the trap of polarization and political dependence,” which undermined its credibility. Israel continued to constitute a permanent and serious threat to regional and international peace and security. The Israeli authorities continued to modernize and expand their arsenal of weapons, chemical, biological and nuclear. It possessed and was developing weapons of mass destruction and military capabilities away from any oversight, guarantees or mechanisms. Syria held Israel fully responsible for obstructing the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. He renewed Syria’s call on the United Nations to compel Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon party, and to subject all of Israel’s nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He further reaffirmed that the implementation of the Middle East resolution that was adopted as part of the infinite extension deal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 remained valid until its goals and objectives were achieved.
HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran of the Islamic Republic of Iran, lamented that nuclear states believed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was solely binding for non-nuclear countries, which therefore considered themselves exempt from implementing it. There was no doubt that creating a zone free from nuclear weapons was a fundamental need and necessity to maintain sustainable peace and security in the Middle East and the world. The initiative to create a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons was raised for the first time by Iran, he specified. Israel’s non-membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its support from the United States endangered the possibility of the creation of such a zone. Further, Iran’s nuclear programme was fully peaceful, and the country was fully committed to applying the programme under its comprehensive safeguard agreement. In recent days, two visits had been paid to Iran by International Atomic Energy Agency delegations. The current status of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was the product of United States policy. Washington needed to have the will and strength to conclude talks. Iran remained ready to participate in talks toward the conclusion of the agreement. Iran also reserved the right to take all necessary measures against any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. He acknowledged the importance of the issue of the war in Ukraine, highlighting that a mechanism for dialogue and negotiation needed to be created. At the same time, Iran rejected the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization escalating measures expanding the Organization to the east.
YOSHIMASA HAYASHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that there was a greater imperative than ever before for the Conference to fulfil its role as the only multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament. As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during war, Japan could not accept Russian nuclear threats, let alone its use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Historical changes in power balances were occurring in the Indo-Pacific region, and the security environment surrounding Japan was rapidly becoming even more severe. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had intensified nuclear and missile activities, including its recent ballistic missile launches, as well as its escalatory rhetoric on the use of nuclear weapons. He reiterated Japan’s strong commitment to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges. Last year, Japan presented the "Hiroshima Action Plan," which was rooted in five actions to avoid a possible reversal of the continued downward trend in the number of nuclear weapons. He emphasised the importance of the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons based on the Shannon Mandate. Furthermore, he urged all States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Additionally, it was necessary to deepen discussions regarding the responsible military use of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence. Regarding lethal autonomous weapons systems, he called for focusing on commonalities between countries' positions on the substance of the matter in order to accelerate consensus-building.
MARJOLIJN DEELEN, European Union Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Head of Division for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service, said that the European Union would continue to support effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core. However, she expressed concern over some States moving away from multilateral measures, rules and principles when it came to national security. She was deeply concerned about current developments, notably the Russian Federation’s announcement that it would suspend its participation in the New START Treaty. She underlined that the two nuclear weapon States with the largest arsenals held a special responsibility in the area of nuclear disarmament and arms control. Given the rapid and extensive build-up of China’s nuclear arsenal, she called on China to join future arms control agreements and to respond positively to calls for an arms control dialogue. The Conference on Disarmament had played an important role over the years in constructing the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture in order to make the world safer. However, the Conference found itself at a crossroads. Ms. Deelen’s long standing priority in the Conference was to immediately commence negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. Furthermore, promoting universal adherence to and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was a top priority for the European Union. She strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s reckless rhetoric and threats of resuming nuclear tests. Finally, she reiterated her resolute condemnation of the illegal, unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.
CANDITH MASHEGO-DLAMINI, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, recalled that most of the international community had rejected nuclear weapons outright, viewing them as instruments of insecurity. She lamented the fact that for over two decades, the Conference had not been able to even adopt a programme of work that would commence negotiations on any of its core issues. Furthermore, it was questionable whether resources should be spent on prolonged consultations on procedural matters that did not achieve a beneficial outcome. It was her view that there were several important items on the Conference’s agenda that were ready for substantive negotiations, such as a fissile material treaty, a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, as well as other effective measures towards nuclear disarmament. South Africa was the only country in the world to have voluntarily disarmed in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner. There was an inextricable link between international peace and security and development; one could not exist without the other. It was States’ collective responsibility to ensure that the Conference was enabled to deliver on its mandate. States had an obligation to protect their respective peoples from the ravages of weapons that threatened the very survival of humanity. All States, irrespective of whether they possessed or relied on nuclear weapons or not, had an equal stake in establishing and maintaining a world free of nuclear weapons.
AÏSSATA TALL SALL, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad of the Republic of Senegal , said there were international security tensions following a prolific arms race and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Senegal was promoting compromise as a founding principle for negotiations. It was convinced that the total eradication of nuclear technologies and weapons was an absolute guarantee against their use. Efforts needed to be redoubled to revitalise the Conference. Senegal had continuously contributed to promoting peace in the area of nuclear disarmament, including through the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Senegal had actively participated in negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had entered into force in 2021. It had further contributed to the Treaty of Pelindaba, which had created an African nuclear free zone, and was continuing to participate in negotiations on preventing the use of nuclear weapons and on stopping the production of fissile materials. Senegal welcomed the creation of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September. Revitalising the work of the Conference required renewed political will. The genuine threat of nuclear weapons continued to hang over humanity. Nuclear disarmament needed to be handled within the Conference under the rules of procedure, including the consensus rule. Senegal urged member States to continue to discuss the Conference’s agenda items. It wished to reaffirm its commitments to peace and dialogue. An inclusive, pragmatic approach involving members, observers and civil society was needed to achieve international peace and security.
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