MIL-OSI United Nations: Use of Chemical, Biological Weapons Unacceptable in Any Context, Delegates Stress, as First Committee Continues General Debate

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Source: United Nations 4

Condemning the use of chemical and biological weapons as unacceptable under any context or circumstances, delegates urged all States to abide by critical existing international instruments for their regulation, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.

Emphasizing the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention), speakers also condemned use of those agents as an appalling violation of international law.

Turkey’s representative said the Government of Syria used chemical weapons in that country, which constitutes a crime against humanity.  Syria should cooperate fully with the Investigation and Identification Team and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding its chemical weapons programme and stockpiles, he stressed.

Canada’s representative said his country is working with more than 20 States on strengthening biosafety and biosecurity and on enhancing surveillance and diagnostic capabilities.  Also citing Syria as well as the Russian Federation’s use of the nerve agent Novichok, she urged those countries to cooperate with OPCW and to comply with their obligations.  Also referring to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, Italy’s delegate urged the Russian Federation to clarify its responsibility in the incident.

Syria’s representative also condemned the use of chemical weapons, noting that his country has signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and fulfilled its obligations.  However, some countries continue to politicize that issue and to create anti-Syria mechanisms within OPCW, he said.  Recalling evidence that terrorist groups have used chemical weapons and blamed Damascus, he said that such information has not been considered.

Delegates noted that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) has established norms in that domain, which must be implemented.

China’s representative, however, pointed out that the United States unilaterally withdrew from the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention in 2001 and operates more than 200 biological labs outside its territory.  They function in an opaque manner, posing serious risks for the Russian Federation and China, he said.  The United States and its allies also carry out activities in biological labs within their own territories, with the United States providing no information, he added, urging those States to operate in an open manner and to resume negotiations on a verifiable legally binding mechanism.

Turning to nuclear energy, delegates agreed that States have a sovereign right to explore its use for peaceful means.  However, speakers also expressed concern over Iran’s non-compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Ireland’s representative, recalling that his country serves as the Security Council facilitator on resolution 2231 (2015) on the Iran nuclear issue, emphasized that full cooperation with the IAEA is essential to international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Australia’s representative expressed concern over Iran’s failure to credibly address the presence of nuclear materials at various locations.  Addressing her country’s engagement in the trilateral process with the United States and the United Kingdom, she said Australia will engage fully with the IAEA over the next 18 months.

The representative of Greece urged those States with nuclear power in their energy mix to submit their reports to the IAEA in the spirit of transparency.

Also delivering statements were representatives of France (on behalf of the five nuclear-weapon States recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty), Qatar, Netherlands, Myanmar, Norway, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, San Marino, Peru, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Tajikistan, Oman, Lebanon, Italy, Ghana, Singapore, Spain, Bolivia and Lesotho.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran, United States, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, China and Azerbaijan.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 8 October, for an informal meeting in virtual format.

General Debate

YANN HWANG (France), speaking on behalf of the five nuclear-weapon States recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), provided an update on recent discussions among them.  Known as the “P5” group, members remain committed to that instrument 50 years after its entry into force, and to the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  During a virtual meeting on 8 July, he recalled, members recognized that despite the impact of the health crisis, determined efforts have continued to register progress under the various workstreams of the group’s 2019 road map.  Emphasizing the great importance of dialogue on doctrines and nuclear policies, he said it can also be a means to strengthen predictability, confidence and mutual understanding within the P5 and as a concrete risk reduction measure.  Members reaffirmed their intention to organize a dedicated side event at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and expressed their desire to pursue exchanges on that issue, he noted, saying the P5 also supports negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.

He said the group is currently finalizing the second edition of the glossary of key nuclear terms, which can help to enhance mutual understanding of related policies.  Reaffirming support for the objectives of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, he said the P5 is available to deepen exchanges with the member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in that regard.  Regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he stressed that the group remains engaged in broadening access to related technologies and in supporting the role of that resource in the energy transition, he said, adding that efforts are under way to prepare joint P5 deliverables for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  Underlining the P5’s special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, he said that in light of the tense global security context, the pursuit and strengthening of dialogue ‑ among P5 members as well as between the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon nations ‑ is key to strategic stability.

GENG SHUANG (China), also speaking on behalf of the Russian Federation, said that, since its entry into force in 1975, the Biological Weapons Convention has established norms for peaceful progress in that domain.  In view of the ninth Review Conference in 2022, it is to be hoped that the international community will strengthen its effectiveness and realize the early elimination of such weapons, he added.  Recalling that the two States issued a joint statement reaffirming their conviction that the Biological Weapons Convention is an essential pillar of peace and security, he emphasized that, as in 1975, it remains relevant.  It rules out the use of biological agents as weapons, he noted, stressing the need to comply fully with the instrument, including through a legally binding protocol with a verifiable mechanism.  Its chemical weapons functions should not be duplicated by other mechanisms, he insisted.

The States parties have not reached agreement on a protocol to the Convention over the past two decades, he said, noting that the United States withdrew unilaterally in 2001, despite consensus almost having been reached.  That country operates more than 200 biological labs outside its territory, he pointed out, saying they function in an opaque manner, posing serious risks for the Russian Federation and China.  The United States and its allies also carry out activities in biological labs within their territories, while providing no information, he said, urging those States to operate in an open manner and to resume negotiations on a verifiable legally binding mechanism.  He went on to state that China and the Russian Federation call for the establishment of a mobile biological weapons team, a new international approach, and a scientific advisory committee on the Biological Weapons Convention.

ANTONIOS PAPAKOSTAS (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said the disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control edifice is under duress, especially in light of the pandemic and destabilizing geopolitical challenges.  Continued support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty can translate into a level of trust that leads to a world without nuclear weapons, he added.  Emphasizing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) key verification responsibilities, he expressed hope that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme will regain its momentum.  He went on to urge States that include nuclear power in their energy mix to submit their reports to the IAEA in the spirit of transparency.  Affirming that Greece remains committed to a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament that is effective, verifiable and irreversible, he said a fissile material cut-off treaty, coupled with the entry into force of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, would be the best way forward in that process.  Greece hopes the upcoming conference to review the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons will give impetus to the ongoing engagement on lethal autonomous weapons systems, he added.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons helps to re-direct resources to the fight against COVID-19.  She went on to note that all States in the Middle East are concerned that a nuclear-weapon-free zone has not yet been established in the region.  Concerning the lack of progress during non-proliferation conferences over the years, she expressed hope that the second session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction will be held in the last quarter of 2021, with all regional States participating.  She said her country has acceded to all international conventions and treaties on disarmament, adding that on 14 December 2020, her delegation submitted a note to the IAEA reaffirming its commitment to safety and security norms.  Qatar will honour all disarmament commitments to regional peace and security, she emphasized.

JIM KELLY (Ireland) emphasized that no State or international organization can address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of a nuclear-weapon detonation, which underscores the urgent need for their elimination.  Rather than impeding progress on disarmament, as some claim, today’s global security challenges reinforce the need for immediate action, he said, adding that, for many States, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a practical expression of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Recalling that Ireland serves as the Security Council facilitator on resolution 2231 (2015) relating to the Iran nuclear issue, he said it strongly supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urges all sides to return to Vienna and conclude talks.  Full cooperation with the IAEA is essential to international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, he said.  Ireland is also concerned about the ethical, moral and legal dilemmas posed by autonomous weapons systems, he added, stressing that systems which do not incorporate human control must not be developed, deployed or used.

YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands) said the development of new weapons confronting an increasingly multipolar world alongside the pandemic requires strengthening the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Despite positive steps such as the Stockholm Initiative, she also pointed to challenges, including Iran’s activities, calling upon that country to resume negotiations within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  She emphasized that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.  Member States must protect the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction, she said.  Calling for the reinforcement of existing instruments and the development of new ones to regulate new technological developments, she commended the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.  She went on to describe threats to outer space as deeply worrying, she stressed the essential role of multilateralism in that domain and in addressing the issue of autonomous weapons systems.  The Netherlands ‑ a long-standing supporter of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction ‑ calls on all States to join that instrument, she said.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said the pandemic continues to affect the First Committee’s work, calling for a redoubling of efforts to drive the disarmament agenda forward.  Reiterating the need for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he said the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will contribute to that goal.  He noted, however, that his country’s efforts to ratify the instrument have been delayed by the current national crisis.  Myanmar will nevertheless table a draft resolution on the nuclear “haves and have‑nots”, he said, calling on all delegations to support it.  He affirmed that his country, a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, continues to comply with its obligations despite the lack of transparency by the military, which reportedly controls a chemical weapon facility.  He went on to state that conventional weapons are a problem for Myanmar, where military forces are using semi-automatic firearms and air strikes against civilians, and called upon the States supplying those materials to stop doing so without delay.

MONA JUUL (Norway), emphasizing her country’s commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, said she is pleased with the growing number of States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty aligning themselves with its recommendations.  She added that Norway supports the rapid entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and the negotiation and conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty.  She urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and Iran to return to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  She went on to express support for broadening the participation and scope of the strategic stability dialogue between the Russian Federation and the United States, while voicing regret that the Russian Federation has failed to answer calls to investigate the attempted assassination of Alexei Navalny.  Norway supports the establishment of an open-ended working group on responsible State behaviour, proposed by the United Kingdom, and stresses the importance of including a gender perspective in all arms control efforts, she said.

PASCALE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), noting that her country is a candidate for the Security Council in the 2023-24 period, highlighted three considerations guiding its engagement on international security and disarmament.  She said promoting stability and reducing risk is at the centre of Switzerland’s efforts in light of the deteriorating global security environment, new and potentially destabilizing effects of technological developments, and the weakening arms control architecture.  Maintaining and strengthening the rules-based international order is another urgent task, requiring the maintenance and implementation of existing norms and instruments, she said, emphasizing that international law has a key role in addressing new conflict realities and emerging challenges such as autonomous weapons systems.  Finally, a functioning disarmament machinery is essential, she said, adding: “All too often, the procedures of our machinery are politicized, preventing us from acting together.”  To remedy that, Switzerland suggests developing forward-looking solutions involving all key actors, including civil society, academia and, where appropriate, the private sector, she proposed.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), pointed out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, nuclear deterrence breeds nuclear escalation.  Only the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction can guarantee international peace and security, he emphasized.  Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said he looks forward to the first meeting of its States parties in 2022.  He went on to note that, like other countries, Trinidad and Tobago continues to experience the deleterious effects of the diversion of small arms and light weapons, which significantly threaten social stability and sustainable development.  He highlighted the Government’s efforts to reduce the country’s vulnerability to cybercrime and stressed the role that women can play towards ensuring international peace and security, saying it goes well beyond recognizing them as victims.

NATASCIA BARTOLINI (San Marino) said her country is very concerned about the erosion of the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, as rapid technological advances enable the modernization of nuclear arsenals and the development of new delivery systems.  Emphasizing that States must recommit to advancing the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, she said doing so entails gaining the necessary support to the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and constructive participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents a historic milestone, she said, encouraging all States to join it.  Warning that any use of weapons of mass destruction would have unspeakable consequences for humanity, she also expressed serious worry about the use of chemical weapons.  Furthermore, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has a devastating and indiscriminate impact on civilians, she pointed out.  The improper use of cyberspace is also of great concern, she said, encouraging support for responsible State behaviour in that regard.  She went on to stress that ethical and legal concerns regarding the proliferation of armed drones and autonomous weapons requires broader multilateral reflection.

SARA ALVARADO (Peru) emphasized that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will only be effective if possessor States join it.  Establishing nuclear‑weapon‑free zones is equally critical, she said, recalling that her region is home to the world’s first such designated area under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean ‑ the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  Also important to global security are shipping lanes, where 95 per cent of world trade as well as 95 per cent of Internet activities occur, she said, stressing the importance of keeping oceans safe.  The spread of small arms and light weapons poses another threat requiring regional and subregional responses, she added, noting that a legally binding instrument is needed in that regard.  She went on to underline the essential need for an open, safe and peaceful cyberspace, she said, expressing support for existing processes to address related threats.  It is unacceptable that military spending continues to rise during the pandemic, she said.  Peru believes multilateralism is the tool “par excellence” to address those and other disarmament and non-proliferation challenges, she added.

VADIM GUSMAN (Azerbaijan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, as a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, his country anticipates progress ahead of the 2022 Review Conference.  Concerning conventional weapons concerns, he emphasized the importance of adhering to existing instruments in order to promote stability.  Recalling Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, including night-time attacks, he said that his country has responded in exercise of its right to self-defence, restoring its sovereignty and territory integrity.  In attacking Azerbaijan, Armenia violated existing norms, including by deploying heavy military equipment and landmines, which continue to claim the lives of civilians, he noted.  That threat can be mitigated if Armenia supplies maps of minefields, he said, adding that the trilateral agreement signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Russian Federation provided a chance to end the conflict.  Azerbaijan expects reciprocity from Armenia in support of peace.

ZACHARIE SERGE RAOUL NYANID (Cameroon), said the United Nations can reaffirm its role in the maintenance of international peace and security, adding that there must be progress on disarmament to avoid a new arms race.  Expressing hope that efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones will continue, he said the progress made at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and the extension of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) demonstrate that the international community can move forward on the non-proliferation agenda.  While affirming that the Treaty of Pelindaba reinforces the non-proliferation regime and advances efforts towards the goal of nuclear disarmament, he pointed out that despite the proven link between disarmament and development, the arms race is not slowing down, although studies show excessive military expenditure hampers economic growth.

JONIBEK HIKMAT (Tajikistan) noted that his country was among the five countries of Central Asia that created a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region Central Asia, welcoming the forthcoming conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East.  Emphasizing that the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a cornerstone of the international security architecture and global non-proliferation regime, he called for a Central Asia free of landmines and for strengthening cooperation on humanitarian demining.  He expressed support for the leading role of the United Nations in combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Tajikistan also welcomes the launch of negotiations in the United Nations Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, and in the Group of Governmental Experts to extend cooperation on the international security dimension of information and communications technology.

RUTH HILL (Australia) said it is critical to foster cooperation and dialogue, and the January 2022 Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty comes at a critical juncture.  She welcomed the strategic talks between the United States and the Russian Federation, noting that China’s engagement is also required to shape a new era in arms control.  Expressing concern over Iran’s failure to credibly address the presence of nuclear materials at various locations, she voiced support for the IAEA as it seeks to implement safeguards.  Turning to the Korean Peninsula, she said Australia supports sanctions and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.  She further called for Syria’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.  As for her country’s engagement in the trilateral process with the United States and the United Kingdom, she said Australia will engage fully with the IAEA over the next 18 months.

AHMED DAWOOD ALI AL ZADJALI (Oman), associating himself with the Arab Group, said critical existing international instruments must be preserved and implemented, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the biological and chemical weapons conventions.  Emphasizing the need to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said it would, among other things, provide guarantees of peaceful intentions on the part of States in the region.  He went on to applaud the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East and to welcome the forthcoming second session.  At a time when States express their commitments to non-proliferation goals, all nations have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under IAEA safeguards, he affirmed, while warning that any attack on peaceful nuclear facilities could have grave repercussions in the region and beyond.

STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said it is essential to act with determination to safeguard the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty provides the only realistic framework for a world free of nuclear weapons, he emphasized, urging the nuclear-weapon States to reduce their arsenals.  He also urged the Annex 2 to sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty without delay, and to respect the moratorium on nuclear testing.  Expressing concern over Iran’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he also said the launching of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea undermines international peace and security, stressing that the sanctions imposed on that country must remain in place.  He went on to reaffirm Italy’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and condemned the use of such agents by Syria’s air force.  Recalling the poisoning of Alexei Navalny he urged the Russian Federation to clarify its responsibility in that incident.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the global arms control regime is weaker than ever and international tensions higher than ever, adding that the nuclear-weapon States are enlarging their arsenals and weakening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  However, she applauded the extension of the New START Treaty and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Welcoming the report on the first Conference on the Establishment of the 2019 Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, she said Lebanon looks forward to the second in November.  She went on to underline that Israel, believed to be the only Middle East State with nuclear weapons, cannot continue to defy the international will, also citing that country’s “enormous” use of cluster munitions weapons in the 2006 war against Lebanon.

CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the pandemic has been a stark reminder of vulnerabilities, exacerbated by the threats of terrorism, organized crime as well as emerging challenges such as an unsafe cyberspace and rising military budgets.  Enhanced multilateral cooperation is required to address those and other threats, she said, adding that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons provides a new legal measure to eliminate nuclear weaponry.  Ghana strongly supports the Test-Ban Treaty, she said, calling upon States to sign and ratify it so it can enter into force.  The spread of conventional weapons remains a problem, especially in Africa, she emphasized, calling on all States to join the Arms Trade Treaty.  Ghana also calls upon arms manufacturers and exporting countries to abide by existing norms to reduce the diversion of firearms into the illicit market.  She went on to stress the need to focus on keeping outer space safe and strengthening cybersecurity, the latter requiring a set of norms to ensure responsible behaviour in that domain by all States.

SHUO WANG (Singapore) affirmed her country’s strong commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, describing the upcoming Review Conference as an opportunity to step up collective efforts in seeking common solutions.  Noting the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Test-Ban Treaty’s adoption, she urged all Member States, particularly the Annex 2 countries, to facilitate its entry into force.  She went on to call for discussions about developing international standards on the transfer of conventional arms in order to end illicit trade and regulate stockpiles.  She reaffirmed Singapore’s support for efforts to promote greater transparency in armaments, such as regular reporting on international arms transfers and arms control policies.  Furthermore, the United Nations must play a leading role in developing international cyber norms, she said.  She went on to reiterate her country’s commitment to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, saying Singapore looks forward to exploring practical initiatives to ensure the security and sustainability of global commons.

MEMET MEVLÜT YAKUT (Turkey) called for strengthening implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty across its three pillars and pledged his country’s support for a successful outcome at the tenth Review Conference.  He welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty and the strategic stability dialogue between the Russian Federation and the United States.  Reaffirming Turkey’s strong support for a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, he also called for preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, encouraging the signatories to resume diplomatic efforts in Vienna.  Describing the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria as a crime against humanity, he emphasized that the regime in that country should cooperate fully with the Investigation and Identification Team and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding its chemical weapons programme and stockpiles.  He went on to underscore Turkey’s commitment to the Ottawa Convention [Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known informally as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or the Mine Ban Treaty], the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

AGUSTIN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said the New START Treaty demonstrates the possibility of adopting a new arms control framework.  Expressing hope for a successful Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said Spain also hopes that the Test-Ban Treaty enters into force and that negotiations advance towards a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He called on Iran to return to talks within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to opt for dialogue on the current situation.  Condemning the use of chemical weapons, including in Syria, he called on Damascus to fully meet its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, adding that specific practical measures must also be drafted in terms of implementing the Biological Weapons Convention.  The forthcoming review of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons must address the issue of autonomous systems, among other things, he emphasized, adding that attention is also needed to ensure cyberspace remains safe.

DIEGO PARY RODRIGUEZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that the Latin America and Caribbean region was declared a zone of peace, adding that his country has a long tradition of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Describing the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a pillar of international arms control, he emphasized the importance of defending the balance of obligations and rights of its States parties.  He rejected the use of chemical weapons as unjustifiable, a serious crime against international law and life itself, while insisting that the OPCW conduct its work in a depoliticized manner.  While all States have the right to peacefully explore outer space, Bolivia reaffirms its position on preventing its militarization by an arms race, he said.  Furthermore, the international community must help developing countries build capacities in information and communications technology, and against crimes from bullying to terrorism.

MAKARABO HYCINTH MOLOELI (Lesotho), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the need for more to be done in the area of nuclear disarmament, particularly by the nuclear-weapon States.  The modernization of existing massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons casts a shadow of doubt over any prospects for attaining a nuclear-weapon-free world in the immediate future, she warned.  “The argument that nuclear weapons are indispensable for the security of some States, but not for others, lacks credibility.”  Turning to the upcoming Non-Proliferation Review Conference, she urged the international community to ensure deliberations are guided by the spirit of frankness and mutual understanding and without the acrimony that often characterizes intergovernmental meetings.  She went on to observe that conventional weapons continue to bring untold sorrow to the developing world, stressing that the fair, balanced, robust implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty is critical in that regard.

LESLIE NORTON (Canada) welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty despite the lack of progress on global nuclear disarmament, saying Canada will work towards a meaningful outcome at the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference by presenting a draft resolution on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  It will also continue to support the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, universal adherence to IAEA safeguards and key international nuclear security instruments.  She invited other countries to join the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the Arms Trade Treaty.  Canada has been promoting international collaboration on biological threats by working with more than 20 countries on strengthening biosafety and biosecurity, and enhancing surveillance and diagnostic capabilities, she noted.  Deploring the use of chemical weapons as appalling, she cited the incidents in Syria and the Russian Federation’s use of Novichok.  She went on to express opposition to the development of anti-satellite weapons and autonomous weapons systems, while voicing support for the activities of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems.  She also welcomed the reports delivered by the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said efforts to grapple with COVID-19 have exposed both vulnerabilities and increased military spending by some States, which are failing to save humanity from the pandemic’s broad impact.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty remains critical to eliminating nuclear weapons, and its universality must be achieved in the Middle East, he said, adding that the 2022 Review Conference provides an opportunity for progress.  He stressed the importance of implementing the resolution adopted at the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, saying Israel’s refusal to join ‑ encouraged by the United States ‑ makes it the main threat to peace and security in the region.  While condemning the use of chemical weapons, he noted that Syria has fulfilled its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  However, some countries continue to politicize that issue, creating mechanisms in the OPCW that oppose Syria, he said.  Recalling existing evidence that terrorist groups have used chemical weapons and blamed Damascus, he pointed out that such information has not been considered.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he was compelled to address baseless allegations by some European countries and Saudi Arabia.  The uncontested reality is that Iran has adhered to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action while the United States has not, and is committed to full implementation, provided others lift unjust sanctions, he emphasized.  Noting that Iran is pursuing its rightful defensive military capacities, he said Saudi Arabia and Israel did their best to derail negotiations on the Plan of Action and undermine it through policies that were in gross violation of their explicit legal obligations.  Saudi Arabia is raising questions about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme, while the IAEA cannot fully verify its own activities, he added.  In view of that country’s attempt to cover up its skyrocketing military build-up and unquenchable appetite for importing deadly arms, it is to be hoped that Riyadh will heed Tehran’s call to discuss regional problems.

The representative of the United States said he did not take the floor earlier in the week to respond to the litany of false charges made by China and the Russian Federation.  However, today’s statement by China, also on behalf of the Russian Federation, accused the United States of being opaque, he noted, saying from them, “this too much”.  Recalling that the United States released information on its nuclear weapon stockpiles in a side event yesterday, he asked:  “How many weapons do China and Russia have? Good question.”  While China claims to pursue minimum deterrence, its rapid build-up is the explanation for its standing as the only nuclear-weapon State with no moratorium on the production of fissile material, he pointed out.

He went on to say that the United States plans to replace decades-old materials under the New START Treaty, explaining that is how democracies operate, unlike autocratic regimes.  Concerning biological labs, he said they are constructed, or more often renovated, in close cooperation with the foreign partners who own and operate them.  Many of them are critical to the COVID-19 response, and baseless allegations insult those countries, he said.  It is also a myth that the United States opposes the Biological Weapons Convention protocol, he said.  However, “an all-or-nothing approach is a good way to get nothing”, he added, cautioning that those who pursue it are suspect.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea condemned false accusations by European countries, saying they risk losing sight as they blindly follow the hostile policies of the United States.  The United States must suspend those policies and double standards, and the European States must abandon cold war policies, as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is exercising its sovereign right to self-defence, he emphasized.  If they are interested in peace and security, why, he demanded, are they silent on AUKUS [a trilateral security pact for the Indo-Pacific region linking Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021] and the transfer of technology to Australia, a dangerous acceleration of the arms race? He advised them to be reasonable and to “come back to their senses”.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to Poland’s statement of 6 October, said that despite Moscow’s efforts, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was destroyed by the United States and its European allies.  As a result, a foundation was created for a new missile crisis in Europe and other regions, he explained, adding that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) rejected Russia’s initiative to promote stability.  In response to the statements by Norway, Italy and Canada, he said there are no assessments of the Navalny case and asked their representatives to refer to his delegation’s response in exercise of the right of reply on 6 October.  In that regard, the Russian Federation remains ready to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, he said.

The representative of Armenia rejected the outdated mantras of Azerbaijan’s delegate, saying it hosts thousands of foreign fighters from the Middle East.  He encouraged that country’s representative to stop insulting the Committee with false information.  Before the aggression against Armenia, Azerbaijan shut transit air corridors despite the absence of threats, began military recruitment and deployed heavy military equipment, he recalled.  It has gravely violated arms control instruments, posing a serious threat to the region, he added, noting that for almost three decades, Nagorno-Karabakh was deprived of humanitarian assistance and, even now, Azerbaijan continues to obstruct demining activities.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, responding to a statement by Iran’s delegate, said his country respects its commitments to the IAEA, unlike Iran, which continues to flout the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  As such, he called upon Iran to respect its obligations.  With regard to Yemen, he said that his country’s initiative for a political solution has yet to be accepted by the Houthi militia, which, with Iran’s help, continue to launch missiles against Saudi Arabia.  He called upon Iran to abstain from such illegal practices and to adopt responsible behaviour.

The representative of China rejected the statement by the United States, saying baseless accusations cannot obliterate his country’s contribution to international security.  Washington has been seeking supremacy in developing and deploying missile systems globally, threatening international peace and security and undermining the global balance, he said, emphasizing that China opposes that arms race and has been consistent in its policy on nuclear-weapons.  The representative of the United States used the United Nations platform to spread a political virus discrediting China, which is totally unacceptable, he stressed, advising that blaming others will not cover up Washington’s own failure in fighting the pandemic, or deceive the international community.  Expressing support for a verification mechanism under the Biological Weapons Convention, he urged the United States to stop blocking it.

The representative of Azerbaijan said Armenia’s delegates offer distortions of the facts about the conflict, saying that country targeted cities and civilians with missiles and artillery far from conflict zones.  It was complicit in deaths caused by landmines and caught red-handed in violations of international obligations, he noted.  It is Armenia that glorifies convicted Nazi war criminals, and its representative’s statement directly contradicts his Prime Minister’s signature on the trilateral statement, he said.

The representative of Iran categorically rejected “more baseless accusations” by Saudi Arabia, reiterating that Riyadh will not implement comprehensive safeguards long requested by the IAEA secretariat.  Iran is totally consistent with the Plan of Action, while Saudi Arabia wants to bring peace by bombing other countries and defenceless people, defending what is indefensible, he said.  Stressing that peace cannot be created by relying on foreign and extra-regional forces, he said Saudi Arabia was the world’s third largest military spender in 2018 and fifth in 2019, and is destabilizing the region with atrocities.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said the generalized assurances agreement pertaining to the IAEA was signed in 2019 and asked Iran to follow its example and stop supporting militia destabilizing the region.

For information media. Not an official record.

MIL OSI United Nations News