CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONTINUES HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT
Hears From the Russian Federation, Pakistan, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Ukraine, Colombia and Spain
The Conference on Disarmament this morning continued its high-level segment, hearing statements by dignitaries from the Russian Federation, Pakistan, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Ukraine, Colombia and Spain.
Speaking were Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan; Martha Delgado Peralta, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico; Wojciech Gerwel, Undersecretary of State of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland; Ahmed Ihab Gamaleldin, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Anupam Ray, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament; Abidoun Richards Adejola, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria; Yevheniia Filipenko, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine; Gustavo Gallón, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Colombia; and Ignacio Sánchez de Lerín García-Ovies, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Spain.
The Conference will next meet in public today at 3 p.m., to continue the high-level segment.
High-Level Segment Statements
SERGEY RYABKOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization policy aimed to further prolong the conflict in and around Ukraine. The United States had attempted to probe the security of the Russian strategic facilities declared under the New START Treaty, assisting the Kyiv regime in conducting armed attacks against Russia. The United States, together with other Western countries, aimed to "strategically defeat" Russia in a total hybrid war. This was contrary to the preamble of the New START, and had forced Russia to announce its suspension of the Treaty. Moscow would continue to comply with the quantitative limits on strategic offensive arms. The need for a multilateral legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space had significantly grown, considering implementation by the United States and its allies of their military space programmes. A draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects had been submitted by Russia and China to the Conference. The ineffective measures proposed by Western countries regarding outer space served as a veil for the accelerated creation of combat capabilities in outer space and their application. The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had concluded without the adoption of a final document, however the Treaty was still in force. The impasse around the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, for which the United States was also responsible, was increasingly worrisome. If the United States decided to be the first to conduct nuclear tests, Moscow would be forced to respond in an appropriate manner. The Russian Federation positively assessed the results of the three sessions of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Means of Delivery. Moscow expected that Israel would join the process at an early date, as well as the United States, and was ready to further facilitate negotiations as an observer. To strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, work needed to resume on a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism. Military biological activities conducted on Ukrainian territory with the support of the Pentagon was in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention. The Russian Federation was deeply concerned about the situation in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which Western countries had turned into a tool for implementing their geopolitical interests in the Middle East. States should continue to seek the adoption of a balanced and comprehensive programme of work for the Conference that included the resumption of the negotiations process.
HINA RABBANI KHAR, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said the global security order today was in a state of disarray. New geo-political alignments sought to perpetuate the strategic advantages of the few. Military expenditures were reaching new heights. Arms races were evident across multiple domains. Efforts were in full swing to develop and deploy new technologies and weapon systems, militarising the outer and cyber spaces. There was clear resistance by leading technology holders to limit or regulate new and lethal tools of modern warfare. The Conference on Disarmament should find ways to address the existing and emerging risks to security and stability. Many of these troubling trends were on display in the South Asia region, where the largest country continued to be a beneficiary of nuclear exceptionalism. This country also remained a net recipient of generous supplies of advanced conventional and non-conventional weapons, technologies and platforms. Even as Pakistan’s adhered to and called for restraint and responsibility, it could not ignore threats to its security. Pakistan would pursue the path of peace, development and strategic stability in South Asia and beyond. Pakistan deemed the Conference an indispensable part of the global security architecture. Its decades long impasse was a shared concern. The ability of this Conference to start negotiations remained contingent on the policy priorities of its members, their threat perceptions and their core national security concerns. Pakistan was not averse to conversations on fissile materials, but asked to discuss this subject in all its dimensions. It had proposed and was promoting the implementation of a fissile material treaty addressing the subject comprehensively. Such a treaty should stipulate explicitly in its scope fissile material stocks and apply equally to all States without discrimination. The Conference should adhere to the cardinal principle of arms control. All States, especially those with the largest military arsenals, had a responsibility to demonstrate political will to enable this Conference to deliver on its mandate. The Conference should be enabled to overcome its decades long impasse through constructive engagement. Pakistan remained committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world. Commencing negotiations on an international instrument on negative security assurances could help transform the global security environment.
MARTHA DELGADO PERALTA, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, said that the first General Assembly Special Sessions devoted to Disarmament outcome document should be the framework for a serious reflection on the state of the disarmament architecture, and in particular the role of the Conference on Disarmament. Mexico had been disappointed that the participation of the States that had requested Observer status had been rejected. It further regretted that the Conference had not agreed on a programme of work yet. Mexico was troubled that more than 12,000 nuclear weapons still existed, many of them ready for use; that their possessors threatened, explicitly or veiledly, their use; that they continued to modernise and increase their nuclear arsenals, instead of moving towards their elimination; that some States were considering acquiring nuclear weapons. The recent announcement of the suspension of the implementation of New START by the Russian Federation had broken the already badly damaged scaffolding of agreements between nuclear weapon States. Mexico urgently called for the full restoration of the implementation of this treaty and for the United States and Russia to return to dialogue. Nuclear disarmament was imperative. States could not be complacent about the Conference’s inaction. If it did not advance the normative framework of disarmament, other forums, like the General Assembly and the Disarmament Commission would also not advance. Mexico called on the Conference to promote new agreements for the purpose of negotiation, and not to discourage them through rigid procedural rules. The Conference should be open to listening to other voices by accepting States that had applied for membership or to participate as Observers. Mexico called for measures to ensure better representation of women and the implementation of gender perspectives in the Conference’s work. Whether the disarmament machinery was adequate should be debated with a view to the preparation of the Secretary-General's New Peace Agenda and at the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly on disarmament. States had a shared responsibility towards building peace.
WOJCIECH GERWEL, Undersecretary of State of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, said more than one year had passed since the beginning of a totally unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine carried out by Russia. For more than one year, States had witnessed enormous Russian atrocities. Russia was directly threatening global peace and security. It was destroying the rules-based international order. Ukrainians stood for the principles Poland was deeply attached to: freedom, international order and universal values. Poland condemned Russia’s and Belarus’ aggression in the strongest possible terms; reaffirmed full support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders; and called for peace for Ukraine. International relations should not be based on the use of force. Russia’s war of aggression should stop immediately. Actions to rebuild mutual trust and common understanding based upon principles of diplomacy, dialogue and shared responsibility needed to be taken. The war had long-lasting implications for efforts related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Russia’s approach had been hindering any serious considerations and progress in this regard. In blocking consensus at the Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Russia had demonstrated its total disregard for the rules-based international order. It had also shown a politically motivated approach in blocking the participation of United Nations member States, international organisations and non-governmental organisations in international fora and processes. This could not be accepted. Poland noted with grave concerns the recent announcement regarding Russia’s suspension of participation in the New START Treaty, accompanied by indications of the possibility of nuclear tests. There was no realistic chance for any serious discussion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This was because of Iranian support for Russia in the current war against Ukraine. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was intensively continuing its missiles and nuclear programmes; its intention to develop the means to deliver nuclear weapons anywhere in the world threatened all countries.
AHMED IHAB GAMALELDIN, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt, said the Conference was growing in importance in view of the rising levels of tensions and threats to international peace and security and arms races. For more than 27 years, the Conference had been in a stalemate, unable to adopt a comprehensive and balanced substantive programme of work on the important items on its agenda. This impasse had been the result of the insistence of some States to uphold the doctrine of nuclear deterrence and retain a discriminatory status. Nuclear-weapons States and nuclear umbrella States were still seeking to maintain absolute dominance in various fields of strategic armament and weapons. The time had come for disarmament to return as a major priority on the multilateral agenda. The Conference’s success in adopting a substantive programme of work would break the current stalemate. Egypt called on nuclear-weapons States to comply with their commitments regarding the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons and the Non-Proliferation Treaty without further delay. Egypt also called on these States to take practical actions towards the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. Non-nuclear States needed to be given legally binding security assurances prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons against them. Egypt strongly supported the elaboration of a treaty on negative security assurances during this session of the Conference. It reiterated that a fissile material ban agreement would lack any seriousness or credibility unless it included the disposal of the current stock of these materials in a verifiable manner. Preventing an arms race in outer space and seeking a comprehensive treaty banning the placement of weapons in outer space and the use of force against space assets was among Egypt’s high priorities. The double standards and the continued politicization of the work of the Conference by some States diverted attention away from the key important agenda items and prevented the Conference from fulfilling its negotiating mandate. Egypt regarded with great interest the move towards holding the Fourth General Assembly Special Session devoted to Disarmament to conduct a comprehensive review of the relevant United Nations mechanisms. Such a session needed to be preceded by preparatory consultations.
ANUPAM RAY, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament, said these were uncertain times. Multiple interlocking crises, including geopolitical, climate and cost-of-living crises, had arrived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. India was committed to multilateralism. It was the current president of the G-20. Multilateral institutions and processes played a key role in developing solutions to modern crises. Such institutions needed to reflect contemporary realities. India attached high priority to the Conference as the single multilateral forum on disarmament. The Conference’s work had greater significant in the current context. Member States needed to advance the work of the Conference. It was regrettable that the Conference had only adopted a procedural report in 2022, and that the resolution on the Conference was not adopted by consensus by the 77th General Assembly. The Conference needed to spare no effort to adopt a comprehensive and balanced programme of work. India was committed to the goal of nuclear disarmament. It had submitted a working paper in 2007 calling for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. India reiterated its call to undertake the steps outlined in the working paper and to develop a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention. The State also supported the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. India, as a responsible nuclear weapons State, was committed to not using nuclear weapons first and not using them against non-nuclear weapon States. Prevention of an arms race in outer space was an important part of the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda. India looked forward to an early start to negotiations on a legally binding instrument on the topic. It took note of the outcome review document of the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. It would participate constructively in the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapon systems. India hosted a disarmament fellowship programme. The third edition of this annual fellowship programme was successfully held in New Delhi in January 2023. We all needed to work together and choose dialogue over conflict.
ABIDOUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria, said Nigeria strongly aligned with the principle of establishing zones free of nuclear weapons and the prioritisation of negative security assurances. It supported the promotion of responsible behaviour in outer space, and welcomed the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours in outer space. It was optimistic that substantive dialogue would facilitate a legally binding instrument that promoted transparency in outer-space related activities. Mr. Richards Adejola called on all nuclear weapon States to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Nigeria supported a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances within the framework of nuclear disarmament. It urged nuclear weapon States to reconsider previous positions and embrace productive dialogue to achieve this practical confidence-building measure. Nigeria also called for the creation of an effective fissile material cut-off treaty, which had not been adopted largely due to the absence of political will. Such a treaty was crucial for realising a world free of nuclear weapons. Nigeria was concerned about the indefinite delay associated with the coming into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, largely due to non-ratification by some States. It urged these States to lend their support for the actualization of the Treaty, which could potentially prevent further nuclear weapon modernization and subsequent arms races. Many citizens continue to suffer during the COVID-19 pandemic because of inappropriately channelled resources that could have improved the quality of lives. The socio-economic fallouts of the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of humanity. States needed to desist from devoting resources to developing nuclear weapons payloads to the detriment of other underfunded sectors. Attempts to introduce unrelated topics into the Conference could pose a major setback to its functionality. Nigeria called on member States to retain focus on matters relevant to the mandate of the Conference. It encouraged member States to make conscious effort to address the Conference’s persistent stalemate. Members need to shoulder their responsibility to break the deadlock in the Conference.
YEVHENIIA FILIPENKO, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine , said a year had passed since Russia's full-scale, unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Over the past 12 months, Ukraine had not only stopped the invasion but had also been able to free nearly half of its newly occupied territories through successful counter-offensives. For more than a year, Russia had committed heinous war crimes and acts of terrorism in Ukraine. It had launched massive missile and artillery attacks on residential areas throughout Ukraine, killed civilians and destroyed critical infrastructure in a blatant violation of the fundamental norms of international law. Ukraine would not agree to anything that kept Ukrainian territories occupied and put its people at the aggressor's mercy. Appeasing the aggressor would lead to more aggression elsewhere. Russia had demonstrated that the legal obligations of nuclear powers to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of non-nuclear States were worth nothing. Russia was openly threatening the world with new weaponry. Its use of the chemical weapons to assassinate its opponents was in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Its decision to suspend its participation in the New START Treaty was another provocative action. Russia had expanded the geographic area of its nuclear arms deployment after occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Moscow could fire nuclear warheads at Ukrainian cities from the territory of Belarus. Repeated shelling at and in the vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants risked a major nuclear disaster. It should return full control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and all nuclear material within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders to the legitimate Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine called call on the international community to take urgent joint actions to counter any form of nuclear blackmailing by the terrorist State. Last year’s session of the Conference had been a disappointment. The actions of Russia, if not stopped, would destroy the entire United Nations system. Russia’s illegal occupation of a permanent seat in the Security Council represented a threat to international peace and security. Russia’s war should end with the triumph of international law and the United Nations Charter. A major step in this direction had been taken by the adoption of last week’s General Assembly resolution. The fate of the world order was now being decided in Ukraine. More weapons, particularly artillery and ammunition, tanks, long-range missiles and fighter jets, were now required to save more human lives, drive the aggressor back to Ukraine's internationally recognised borders and restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The more security assistance Ukraine received, the sooner the war would end. The international community had a collective duty to restore respect for international law.
GUSTAVO GALLÓN, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Colombia, said the current distressing international situation, characterized by modernised nuclear weapons systems, repeated ballistic missile tests, the escalation of international conflicts, and the absence of political will to move towards total verifiable disarmament, highlighted the need to revitalise the Conference on Disarmament. Threats of use of nuclear weapons, and their production and sophistication, ran contrary to the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Colombia, a member of the first Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone established by the Treaty of Tlatelolco, championed a diplomacy of peace and multilateralism against the risk posed by nuclear weapons. It was necessary to adopt measures and maintain action-oriented dialogue to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space and a potential arms race, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. Colombia called on States to live up to their international obligations to prevent nuclear war. All nuclear weapon States had a responsibility to provide security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, and to not to use or threaten to use a nuclear weapon against them. Colombia categorically rejected any such action, which would violate the United Nations Charter. In the last thirty years, humanity had witnessed the development of new types of weapons that needed to be regulated and, in some cases, prohibited through multilateral negotiation. Colombia recognized the Conference as the sole multilateral forum with a mandate to address such negotiations. The country was also committed to promoting the participation and equal representation of women at all levels of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control fora. All States should work so that women could make decisions within the framework of these fora.
IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ DE LERÍN GARCÍA-OVIES, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Spain, said her State condemned the military aggression in Ukraine and reiterated its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Dramatic security circumstances made it more necessary than ever to strengthen the international disarmament architecture. The Conference needed to play a leading role in this undertaking. In 2022 the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was unable to adopt a consensus document due to the blockade of a single country. The next review cycle would be essential to define tangible measures to advance the three pillars of the Treaty. In this review cycle, Spain would continue to be firmly committed to the Stockholm Initiative. It invited other States to study the proposals and approach of that Initiative. Spain supported the International Atomic Energy Agency and considered its Safeguards Agreements with its Additional Protocol as the international standard for nuclear verification. Spain supported efforts to restore the implementation of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement. States should work towards the creation of verification mechanisms regarding the Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Spain would continue to fully support the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Major challenges remained, such as the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict or for assassination purposes. Spain could not tolerate the use of these prohibited weapons. Perpetrators should be held accountable. Spain would defend these priorities at the next Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention. New security challenges required responses in terms of disarmament. For this reason, Spain was paying special attention to the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on Responsible Conduct in Outer Space and the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Threats from conventional weapons should also not be ignored. Spain supported the approval of a substantive programme of work for the Conference to start conversations on key issue, such as negotiations to adopt a fissile material cut-off treaty or a negative security assurances treaty. Spain called for the voices of all Member States of the United Nations who wanted to participate in the Conference as Observers to be heard.
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