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Meeting Summaries

Hears From Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Türkiye, Kenya, South Africa on behalf of the Group of 21 and Algeria


The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon concluded its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Türkiye, Kenya, South Africa on behalf of the Group of 21 and Algeria.

Speaking were Himalee Arunatilaka, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka; Mohammad Sufiur Rahman, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh; Arzu Erçelík Vandeweyer, Deputy Permanent Representative of Türkiye; Anthony Mathenge, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Kenya; Tsholofelo Glenda Tsheole, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa; and Lazhar Soualem, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Algeria.

Statements in right of reply were made by representatives of the Russian Federation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Israel, Syrian Arab Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran, United States, Republic of Korea, Japan and China.

The Conference will next hold a plenary meeting on a date to be announced.

High-Level Segment Statements

HIMALEE ARUNATILAKA, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, noting myriad of security threats, highlighted the need for progress in global disarmament and the non-proliferation regime. Sri Lanka was deeply concerned about the collective failure to reach a consensus outcome at the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Sri Lanka emphasized the equal importance of the three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. There had been dangerous implications of a return to strategic competition and international armed conflict. More than ever before, there was a need to bring renewed impetus to multilateral dialogue in the interest of enhancing global security. It was imperative that the nuclear weapon States provided legally binding assurances against use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon States. Sri Lanka reiterated the importance and urgency of commencing negotiations on negative security assurances. Sri Lanka was concerned by very real threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors. The international community needed to prevent this. The growing exploration and use of space by both State and commercial entities raised increasing concerns regarding the possibility of weaponization and an arms race in outer space. Sri Lanka followed closely the ongoing discussions on responsible behaviour in outer space and noted the proposed Group of Governmental Experts on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space as a step in the right direction. Sri Lanka remained firmly convinced that a verifiable legally binding agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space was necessary and that voluntary transparency and confidence-building measures could not be a substitute for such binding regulations. Sri Lanka was deeply concerned regarding the slow progress in adopting of binding regulations on the use of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence in weapon systems. Sri Lanka emphasized the importance of the Conference on Disarmament’s mandate as a negotiating body and said the State remained ready to contribute to it.

MOHAMMAD SUFIUR RAHMAN, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, said his country strongly believed in multilateralism, negotiation and use of international law. Bangladesh urged all States to implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to further nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Strong opposition from some had prevented negotiation on a legally binding instrument providing assurances to non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by the States with nuclear arsenal. Bangladesh firmly believed that the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones and accession to their relevant treaties were useful interim steps towards securing negative security assurances. Bangladesh was also of the view that negotiations on a legally binding and verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty that included existing stocks should commence soon. It valued the necessity of keeping outer space free from militarization and arms races. Small arms were spreading fast; non-State actors, vigilantes and mercenaries had easier access and were unleashing terror. Controlling small arms and autonomous weapons was important in the aspiration for general disarmament. It was regrettable that the Conference could not come to a consensus on the programme of work. Despite intersecting global challenges, nuclear-armed States continued to invest in modernisation of nuclear weapons. Bangladesh had always advocated for channelling the massive resources deployed for arms build up to economic development. It also called for increased investment and international cooperation in nuclear technology research and exploring the potentials of its peaceful use for the benefit of humankind. It was necessary to end the stalemate on the Conference’s substantive work and commence negotiation.

ARZU ERÇELÍK VANDEWEYER, Deputy Permanent Representative of Türkiye, expressed concern that the war in Ukraine had entered its second year with little prospect of peace. Türkiye had been supporting diplomatic initiatives and would continue to encourage dialogue. Reaffirming its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity including regarding Crimea, Türkiye reiterated its call for an immediate end to the war and for the safety of the nuclear power plants. The use of chemical weapons was a grave violation of international law and unacceptable. Türkiye strongly condemned the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria and remained committed to a lasting solution to the conflict. Terrorist organizations with weapons of mass destruction continued to be a major threat to international peace and security. Nuclear disarmament was a priority matter for the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Türkiye was concerned with the recent decision of the Russian Federation to suspend its participation in the New START Treaty and called for continued bilateral and multilateral dialogue. Türkiye reiterated its call for the implementation of the 1995 resolution on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, and encouraged all countries of the Middle East to engage in dialogue. Türkiye supported the prompt entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the commencement of negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. It further supported efforts for the reactivation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Türkiye regretted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued with its nuclear and ballistic missile program and urged that State to take urgent steps to abandon these programmes. Cyberspace had become a field of malicious activities, and critical infrastructures were increasingly targeted. Protection of unrestricted access to and use of outer space for peaceful purposes was a priority for humanity. Türkiye supported efforts to develop norms for responsible behaviours in these two fields. There was still ample ground for much-needed substantive discussions at the Conference. The adoption of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work would be a good starting point. Türkiye would maintain its constructive and responsible position in the agenda items of the Conference, and called on all others to do the same.

ANTHONY MATHENGE, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Kenya, said the relevance of the Conference as the international community’s negotiating forum for disarmament remained undiminished. In the current global security environment, it was incumbent on States to affirm the Conference’s role and mandate, and to safeguard it from losing credibility. The growing modernisation of defence systems and the imperative to keep outer space and celestial bodies free of weapons should remain at the forefront of the Conference’s agenda. Kenya called for assurances from nuclear weapons States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons on non-nuclear weapons States, which would be best achieved through a legally binding instrument. It also looked forward to the commencement of negotiations leading to such an instrument as early as possible. Kenya urged countries that possessed those weapons to relegate and eventually remove them from their defence doctrines. Kenya encouraged the two largest nuclear powers to renew their commitment to the New START Treaty. Kenya was convinced that the ultimate assurance of a safer world lied in legally binding and verifiable multilateral arrangements. As a proud member of the African nuclear weapons free zone created under the Pelindaba Treaty, Kenya fully supported the establishment of nuclear weapons free zones across the globe. It was incumbent on States to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced programme that considered the concerns of all. Kenya urged all delegations to embrace a progressive and pragmatic approach, while preserving and affirming the normative mandate of the Conference.

TSHOLOFELO GLENDA TSHEOLE, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21, said the Group emphasised the importance of preserving the Conference by strengthening the nature, role and mandate of this body. The Conference’s credibility needed to be preserved through the adoption and implementation of a balanced programme of work and the resumption of negotiations on nuclear disarmament. The Group reaffirmed its working paper on nuclear disarmament and all other working papers submitted to the Conference in 2022. Reiterating its concern over the current difficult and complex security situation, it called for renewed efforts to resolve the current impasse in achieving nuclear disarmament. The Group welcomed the formal proclamation, for the first time in history, of Latin America and the Caribbean as a “Zone of Peace” and hoped this proclamation would be followed by other political proclamations of “Zones of Peace” in other regions of the world. It recognized other actions in this regard, including the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty. The Group called on the Conference to commence negotiation on nuclear disarmament, particularly a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons. The Group’s State parties would continue to engage constructively in the next Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The conclusion of a legally binding instrument to effectively assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a matter of high priority. The Group called on all nuclear weapon States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to implement their obligations and support an early convening of the Fourth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament. It also supported the early establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. It expressed disappointment and deep concern that three States Parties had blocked consensus on the draft outcome document of the ninth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The Group reaffirmed the urgency of Israel's accession to the Treaty without further delay and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The Group also recognised the importance of enhancing engagement between civil society and the Conference on Disarmament.

LAZHAR SOUALEM, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Algeria, said Algeria had been participating fully in implementing its role in upholding security, peace and development. It had hosted the Arab Summit in November 2022. Algeria stressed the importance of facing the possibility of crises ahead of time, and addressing their root causes. All parties should support Malian actions during the transition that Mali was undergoing. In Libya, consensus should be found that was conducive to reconciliation. The Sahel region and the Sahara region had become more fragile due to terrorist threats and transnational organised crime. Algeria was coordinating with countries to respond to shared challenges, including terrorism. States should revitalize the mandate of the Conference and show the political will to break its standstill. Algeria believed that nuclear weapons were a threat to humanity and freedom. Mr. Soualem called for the implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; urged non-member States to that treaty to accede to it promptly; and called on nuclear weapon States to live up to their responsibilities. Algeria regretted the failure to adopt an outcome document at the last Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and called on States to participate in the process leading to the next Review Conference. It had been active in its region to create a zone free of mass destruction, and welcomed efforts made regarding the holding of an annual conference to establish weapons of mass destruction free zones. The ban on the production of fissile materials for military warheads or other weapons was adequate, considering the stockpiles that were still available. It was in States’ interest to guarantee the peaceful use of outer space. Weapons should not be placed in outer space, and emerging technologies needed to be regulated. Multilateralism should be preserved to further the activity of the Conference.

Right of Reply

Russian Federation, speaking in right of reply, said that the countries of the West had a destructive approach to the Conference. Discussion had been politicised using anti-Russian rhetoric. There had been unfounded allegations against Russia regarding the special military operation in Ukraine. Over the past 25 years, European countries had supported the erosion of security in the region, and had created the conditions that led to the situation in Ukraine. European countries had sought to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and reject agreements with Russia, and had violated the United Nations Charter in attacks on Iraq and Libya. Three North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, had attacked Syria. This was an act of intimidation against all countries. There were parallels with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most Western States were not receptive to Russia’s explanations. Western countries had not made proposals to revitalise the work of the Conference. These delegations intended to transform the Conference into a club that only discussed convenient topics. Representatives of the West were trying to blame Russia for the stalemate. Russia remained committed to the work of the Conference. It had put forward initiatives to begin substantive work, all of which had been rejected by Western States. Russia’s calls to begin negotiations on multilateral agreements were immediately rejected. Accusations that Russia was blocking the participation of States as Observers were false. Russia had simply proposed a unified procedure for assessing applications for Observer status. The West was to blame for the deadlock on the issue of Observer status. The rule of consensus needed to be applied to technical issues. Russia called on Western States to show political will and to agree to begin negotiating work.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in right of reply, said that it categorically rejected remarks made by some speakers concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was exercising its legitimate right to self-defence in line with the United Nations Charter. Test firing of ballistic missiles did not constitute a threat to international peace and security. The numerous tests conducted by the United States should be considered. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was exposed to the constant threat of war. The United States and the Republic of Korea conducted military activities in the Korean Peninsula that threatened the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The State had no option but to strengthen its national security mechanisms. If the United States refused to stop threatening the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with its nuclear weapons, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had no choice but to build up its nuclear arsenal. The State would not abandon its nuclear deterrent. It would not engage in dialogue with the United States until it desisted in its provocative activities. The Republic of Korea was intensifying military exercises in the Korean Peninslua, increasing tensions in the region. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was not bound by United Nations Security Council resolutions, which were imposed at the instigation of the United States. The United States and Republic of Korea needed to investigate the root causes of the hostile situation in the region. Other countries needed to condemn these States’ actions. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea would take direct actions in response to military threats. Japan should not deceive the international community. It had greatly increased its defence spending and planned to build up its missile arsenal. Japan had not yet sincerely addressed its past crimes. Japan planned to abandon its exclusive defence policy.

Israel, speaking in right of reply, said that Syria and Iran sought to threaten the Middle East. Syria had been avoiding accountability for its chemical weapon attacks. There was a systemic lack of compliance to international norms regarding disarmament in the region.

Syrian Arab Republic , speaking in right of reply, said several Western States had jeopardised discussions, failing to uphold their responsibilities in the field of armament control. The Conference was not the right place to discuss the Douma incident. Syria had joined the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and destroyed its stockpile of chemical weapons. It had cooperated with the Organisation’s visits. Syria condemned the use of chemical weapons, regardless of the circumstances. The Douma incident was based on a fabricated report by a so-called investigation team. The conclusion made by this team was used as pretext for the United Kingdom, United States and France to launch a large-scale attack against Syria that was in flagrant violation of international law. Israel was the only country in the region that possessed chemical weapons.

Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking in right of reply, said allegations regarding Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme were baseless. Iran was committed to respecting its international obligations regarding nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency would visit Iran later this week. The United States needed to demonstrate will to conclude talks on a nuclear agreement. Expressed commitments to dialogue needed to be backed up. Israel was the only obstacle to a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Its allegations against Syria were ridiculous. Israel had been the source of instability, having committed war crimes against several neighbouring countries and had threatened to attack safeguarded nuclear facilities in Syria. Its regime had threatened Iran with total nuclear annihilation.

United States, speaking in right of reply, said Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the New START Treaty was irresponsible. Claims that the United States was using the treaty to survey Russia’s arms were false. The United States continued to respect the Treaty, and was ready to conduct bilateral discussions with Russia on it. The United States would remain postured to defend itself and its allies. The State was extremely concerned by Russia’s statements regarding the testing of nuclear weapons. The United States continued to conform to its international obligations regarding nuclear testing. The notion that the United States was politicising the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was false. The Organisation’s independent investigation team had found that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on eight occasions. Russia had blocked consensus on the Conference’s final outcome document last year, and had blocked Observer States from participating in the Conference this year.

Republic of Korea, speaking in right of reply, said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s allegations were baseless. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was blatantly violating international law. The United Nations Security Council resolutions were unanimous agreements, and all United Nations members had agreed to be bound by those resolutions. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had mass-produced nuclear weapons, and had recklessly developed its weapons arsenals. The Republic of Korea and United States’ joint military exercises were in response to threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Its military spending was in complete disregard of the poverty that gripped its people. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea needed to stop undermining international disarmament regimes.

Japan , speaking in right of reply, said that Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s allegations were groundless. Japan was maintaining its exclusive defence policy. Its defence capability was geared for its own defence purposes, and its defence policy was transparent. For over 70 years, Japan had addressed the historic facts of World War II and had contributed to peace and security. Japan urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon all its nuclear weapons programmes, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and to abide by all United Nations Security Council resolutions.

China , speaking in right of reply, said the United States’ statement had contained unfounded allegations regarding China’s nuclear weapons programme. China was committed to not being the first to use nuclear weapons. It kept its nuclear stockpiles to the minimum level required for national defence. China’s nuclear strategies were above board and were contributing to international stability. China urged the United States to implement irreversible cuts to its nuclear arsenals to promote international peace and stability. All countries needed to stop echoing unfounded allegations from the United States.

Israel, speaking in right of reply, said Iran was advancing its nuclear programme, enriching uranium and experimenting with prohibited materials. Surface-to-surface missiles had been transferred by Iran to terrorist organisations. Iran’s support for terrorist organisations contradicted numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions. Iran was the largest proliferator of small-scale arms in the region. There had been growing Iranian terrorist activity outside of the Middle East, including in Europe.

Syrian Arab Republic , speaking in right of reply, said the United States had adopted a policy of falsification regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons. The decision adopted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in this regard clearly reflected the state of politicisation in the Organisation. The decision had been endorsed by less than half the countries in the Organisation. The creation of the independent investigative team was illegal, and Syria did not endorse it or its reports. Disinformation campaigns were being held that had nothing to do with the mandate of the Organisation. The United States occupied territories in the south and north-east of Syria. It was the first country to use the atomic bomb in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and had been upgrading its chemical arsenals. All Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reports had relied on information taken from the White Helmets, which were an arm of the sham Liberation Front. The White Helmets were mandated to fabricate media stories to be taken as justification by Western countries for attacking Syria.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in right of reply, , said the United States and Republic of Korea’s accusations were baseless. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea urged Japan and Republic of Korea to refrain from politicising the Conference. While the danger of aggression existed, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would continue to bolster its defence capabilities.

United States, speaking in right of reply, said it had eliminated close to 90 per cent of its nuclear arsenal from the Cold War era, while China’s arsenal was being built up at an alarming rate.

Islamic Republic of Iran , speaking in right of reply, said Israel had made baseless allegations against Iran. The Israeli regime was the only one in the Middle East that refused to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Nuclear weapons posed the most serious threat to States in the Middle East. Iran’s peaceful nuclear regime did not pose a threat to the region. The international community needed to compel Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to put its nuclear capabilities under the surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

China , speaking in right of reply, said that during the Cold War era, the United States accumulated a massive nuclear arsenal, and it was not right to brag about reductions to such an arsenal. The United States had the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and was enhancing and strengthening its nuclear umbrella, which threatened international peace and stability. The United States had repeatedly hyped-up China’s nuclear capabilities to justify its own nuclear programme.


Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.