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10/13/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/13/2021 20:18

General Assembly: First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)

Note: Following is a partial summary of today's meeting of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). A complete summary will be available on 14 October as Press Release GA/DIS/3670.


HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the African Group, emphasized that, as the common heritage of humanity, outer space must be protected from militarization through the adoption of a legally binding instrument. The international community must also ensure increased cooperation between developed and developing countries to advance access to the potential of space technologies, including support for the African Space Agency established within the framework of the African Union, he added.

Noting that small arms and light weapons are an obstacle to sustainable development, besides posing a continuing threat to international peace and security, he said the African Group supports full implementation of the pivotal instruments of the United Nations, supplemented by regional and subregional initiatives. They include: the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa; the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa; and the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials. He went on to call for emphasis on preventing the transfer of those weapons to non‑State actors, within the framework of the related United Nations Programme of Action.

ANGUS SEPTEMBER (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said the group's primary goal is to realise and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. However, the current security landscape raises concern, he added. Expressing the Coalition's continuing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, he proposed the implementation of concrete, transparent, mutually reinforcing, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament measures and the fulfilment of Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations and commitments. Expressing deep concern about the slow pace of progress and the reliance of some States on indefensible security doctrines that increase the risk of proliferation, he emphasized that the global security environment is no excuse for inaction. Instead, it reinforces the need for urgency, he said. What is lacking is not favourable conditions, but political will and determination, he stressed, pointing out that the world witnessed those qualities with the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

He also expressed deep concern about policies or pronouncements that move further away from the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, calling for serious reflection on the enormous amount of resources dedicated to the maintenance, development and modernization of nuclear arsenals. They could be better utilized in pursuit of a better future, including that envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Stressing that the slow progress in implementing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is unacceptable and untenable, it is time for the nuclear‑weapon States to deliver on their commitments. The Treaty's adoption and indefinite extension is based on a "grand bargain", he said, underlining that any presumption of indefinite possession of nuclear weapons contravenes the object and purpose of the instrument and threatens to erode its credibility and effectiveness. "We must uphold and preserve the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and the best way to protect [it] is to implement it," he said.

CATHERINE NADEAU (Canada) suggested a step‑by‑step approach to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them irreversibly. The disturbing trends of diversifying and increasing arsenals must be stopped through genuine commitments by the nuclear‑weapon States, she said, emphasizing that progress hinges on ensuring the maintenance and strengthening of the international disarmament and non‑proliferation architecture, with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty at the centre. Canada is working with partners to develop concrete proposals and ideas to strengthen the instrument ahead of the 2022 Review Conference, including by engaging with the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Stockholm Initiative, she noted. Recent progress, including the extension of the New START Treaty, opens up new possibilities along the road to disarmament, she said, stressing that decision makers must fully comprehend the risks associated with nuclear weapons and recognize that arms control enhances security and predictability. Canada's long‑standing objectives include the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty and the negotiation of a fissile material cut‑off convention, she affirmed, while cautioning that both require political will on the part of all States. "While the steps to nuclear disarmament are largely before us, it is the implementation of these steps that we stumble on," she noted. However, some of the most intractable issues of the times can be dislodged by increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of nuclear disarmament, she said, adding that Canada believes in empowering youth to become the next generation of leaders, and in the equal, full and meaningful participation of women in all related discussions and decision‑making processes.

SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL‑TAIE (Iraq), calling for acceleration towards universal adherence to disarmament and non‑proliferation instruments by placing them at the top of international priorities, reaffirmed the importance of full implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. He noted that the 1995 resolution adopted at the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction has not yet been implemented, more than two and a half decades later, and emphasized the need for serious support of the upcoming second session. Calling for unremitting efforts to prevent the militarization of, and an arms race in, outer space, he welcomed international initiatives in pursuit of a legally binding regulatory instrument. He went on to highlight the catastrophic effects of indiscriminate proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, a constant source of concern and a great danger to security and the stability of nations.

AHMAD SAIF Y. A. AL‑KUWARI (Qatar) said the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction poses a major risk to international security and commended collective international efforts that have led to results in conflict management and nuclear non‑proliferation. He further emphasized the importance of adherence to all relevant international treaties and conventions, adding that multilateralism is the only path to realizing objectives on international peace and security. He also went on to deplore the delay in establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, reaffirming Qatar's support for the next session of the United Nations conference established for that purpose.

PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) said the development of defence systems that threaten space wars is worrisome. Outer space is a common territory, and space remains the "last frontier", he said, emphasizing that it must be used for peaceful purposes and remain free of conflict and weapons. Any regulation should consider using outer space for the benefit of all States, he added, pointing out that an outline can be found in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. A governance framework must also foster innovation at a time when States have become vulnerable to threats in outer space and cyberspace, he said. Collective security helps common efforts, but competition has unfolded into a scenario that calls for regulations to discourage the militarization of outer space, he noted, saying his delegation will table a draft resolution during the present session on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said global tensions and rapid technological developments have elevated the risks of nuclear weapons use to their highest point since the cold war. "Immediate progress is necessary to restore trust and faith in the current regime," he emphasized, noting that the tenth Review Conference must reconfirm, as a first step, the validity of all previous commitments. He blamed the stalemate related to the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and countless other resolutions, for eroding the credibility of the disarmament and non‑proliferation regime and multilateral norms, as well as the rule of law at the international level. As such, the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction - first convened in November 2019 - allows the United Nations to take meaningful steps through an institutional, inclusive and consensus‑based process. Turning to outer space - a "shared heritage" - he called for a legally binding instrument aimed at preventing an arms race, notably by filling existing legal gaps and banning the placement of any weapons in outer space. It would also ban armed attacks against satellites or any outer space assets, intentional harmful interference in their functioning and development of weapons designed to attack them. He went on to stress that the lack of clear definitions and criteria related to the Arms Trade Treaty undermines its effectiveness, and called on States parties to ensure that its implementation aligns with the Charter of the United Nations in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of States to fulfil their national security and self‑defence needs.

MAN YAN ENG (Singapore) said that States must not only renew their commitment to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty at the upcoming Review Conference, but also commit to fulfilling their obligations under that instrument. Nuclear‑weapon States must do more to reduce their arsenals and the international community must work towards universalizing the Treaty, he added. The international community must also pursue efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, she emphasized. As one of the world's busiest transhipment hubs, Singapore takes its responsibilities seriously in that regard, including through its robust export control regime, she said, adding that States must fulfil their international legal obligations to curb the illicit trade in and indiscriminate use of conventional weapons. In that regard, Singapore is working towards ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty while also imposing an indefinite moratorium on the export of anti‑personnel mines and cluster munitions, she affirmed.

KONSTANTIN VORONTSOV, Acting Deputy Director, Department on Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament of the Russian Federation, said progress on nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through consensus, and attempts to promote an immediate ban are unproductive. Emphasizing that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be started, he listed several of his country's arms‑reduction achievements, in line with the United States, citing in particular the extension of the New START Treaty. What remains outstanding are issues involving post‑Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty global strike weapons, he said, adding that nuclear weapons should not be based outside a State's national territory. Calling upon all Annex 2 States to join the Test‑Ban Treaty, he noted that the Biological Weapons Convention also deserves attention, particularly with a view to boosting its verification system. In relation to the Secretary‑General's mechanism to address the use of chemical and biological weapons, he said the Russian Federation will table a related draft resolution during the current session. He noted that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in a difficult situation, having been divided and politicized in its decision‑making processes. Attention must also be paid to some countries that see outer space as a combat arena and aim at military domination, he warned, underlining the need for norms and a common understanding that no weapons should be deployed in that realm. The Russian Federation has worked towards a legally binding instrument in that regard, he said, adding that his delegation will be introducing a related draft resolution later in the session.

DUY TUAN VU (Viet Nam), endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said States parties must uphold and renew their commitments to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, which remains the cornerstone of global action. He also called on States to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty and to adhere to international legal instruments on other weapons of mass destruction. Noting that conventional weapons deserve further attention from the international community, he emphasized the legitimate right of States to manufacture, trade and retain such arms for national defence and security needs. At the same time, States bear primary responsibility to address issues related to conventional weapons, he continued, expressing deep concern over the threat to civilians and peacekeeping personnel posed by landmines and improvised explosive devices, which also have serious and lasting humanitarian, social and economic consequences for more than 60 countries. As for outer space, he said it is in the common interest and the right of all countries to explore and use that realm exclusively for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law. In that regard, he called for further regional and international cooperation to promote confidence‑building measures and friendship among all peoples and nations for the sake of better use of outer space for peace, security and development.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said the world knows more about the existential risks of nuclear weapons than ever before. Noting that disarmament is a self‑evident imperative, he said some States claim nuclear weapons are essential for self‑defence, despite the evidence that geopolitical competition cannot be managed effectively. That is an illusion of security, he emphasized. He called for a global paradigm change, pointing to the tenth Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference as the right opportunity. Pointing out that at least six possessor States have increased their stockpiles, a turning point after decades of transparency on disarmament, he stressed that they must live up to their obligations, describing the New START Treaty extension as a first good step. Calling for the essential return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said new challenges include the exchange of highly enriched uranium, which must remain taboo. He went on to underline that, after five years of deliberations among experts, the international community must make an unequivocal commitment to keep humans in control of lethal autonomous weapon systems.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the long‑term plans of nuclear‑weapon States to strengthen their stockpiles, with no disarmament negotiations under way despite clear legal obligations. The withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and its unwillingness to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, caused immense damage, he added. Furthermore, Israel is the main hurdle to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, he emphasized, calling upon the international community to compel that State to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and place related materials under the protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He said chemical weapons remain a grave concern, with the United States the only possessor, noting that country's failure to meet a 2012 deadline for their destruction and its postponement of that action until 2023. He said the most effective approach to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention is a legally binding protocol, urging the United States to withdraw its objection. Similarly, a legally binding instrument is required to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said, pointing out that the United States already has a space force with a $17 billion budget, which will increase by 13 per cent. He went on to reject sanctions against Iran's space programme.

GYORGY MOLNAR, Special Representative of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation of Hungary, endorsed the statement made on behalf of the European Union, emphasizing that only concrete practical steps ‑ such as ensuring the Test‑Ban Treaty's entry into force, negotiating a fissile material cut‑off treaty and advancing nuclear disarmament verification alongside risk reduction, transparency and confidence‑building measures - can help realize a world free of nuclear weapons. He called for a greater focus on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and for full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear programme. Describing the re‑emergence of chemical weapons as among the greatest threats to international security, he called for strengthening the Chemical Weapons Convention. He went on to highlight Hungary's participation in a network of laboratories serving the Secretary‑General's mechanism on addressing and investigating reports of chemical weapon use. As for preventing an arms race in outer space, he said addressing that threat hinges on adopting an incremental approach, including voluntary measures.

PRATHMA UPRETY (Nepal), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said today's race to modernize nuclear arsenals does not demonstrate humanity's ability but rather its inability to make peace. Calling upon all nuclear‑weapon States to abide by their legal obligations towards the total elimination of their nuclear weapons in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner, he emphasized that his country does not produce, possess or transfer any kind of weapons of mass destruction. Stressing the need for high‑level cooperation to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of non‑State actors like terrorists, he said implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and other relevant instruments remains critical in that regard.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said his delegation will continue to work on disarmament and non‑proliferation, considering the current security landscape, adding that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty provides a guide. However, the United Kingdom will not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he affirmed, explaining that the instrument does not contribute to international law. The United Kingdom will continue to help develop nuclear verification measures towards the Test‑Ban Treaty's entry into force. Expressing support for the Secretary‑General's new mechanism on the use of chemical weapons, he also voiced grave concern over the attack on Alexei Navalny and the incidents in Syria. Noting that the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the importance of a robust regime against biothreats, he encouraged the forthcoming review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention to strengthen the instrument in that regard. He emphasized that preventing an arms race in outer space is key to preserving international security, adding that his delegation will introduce a draft resolution on reducing threats in that realm, including a proposal to establish a working group on the issue. It will also table a text on conventional disarmament addressing a variety of concerns across weapons categories, he added. Moreover, the United Kingdom is involved in negotiating a normative framework on lethal autonomous weapon systems under the umbrella of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

TOR HENRIK ANDERSEN (Norway) urged the Russian Federation to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in August 2020, share the findings of the investigation with States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and bring those responsible to justice. Norway remains steadfast in its support of the decision to suspend Syria that was made at the resumed Conference of the States Parties to the Convention. "There exists no Western plot to undermine Russia's and Syria's sovereign interests," he stressed, adding that no illegitimate decisions have been made at OPCW. Citing documented violations of the Convention, he said a cross‑regional group of countries, including Norway, is willing to use the available instruments of the Convention to address those violations.

KARIN KUNJARA NA AYUDHYA (Thailand) expressed his country's commitment to preserving Southeast Asia as a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, as enshrined in the Charter of ASEAN and the Bangkok Treaty, officially known the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone. Calling on nuclear‑weapon States to sign and ratify the Treaty's protocol, he went on to voice support for ongoing efforts towards the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. Thailand is working towards its ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, noting that another national priority is action in support of the Mine Ban Convention. To date, Thailand has cleared more than 95 per cent of its mine‑contaminated area, and it is serving as the 2021 Chair of the Committee on Victim Assistance under the Convention. Victim assistance should be a priority for States parties, he added in that regard.

JOHANN PASCHALIS (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, the Non‑Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition, said nuclear disarmament is a legal responsibility and an ethical imperative. Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he noted it is the only instrument banning a category of weapons not subject to a global prohibition. Noting that modernization programmes and stockpile increases undermine the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said concrete progress on disarmament is essential to the success of the tenth Review Conference. The concerns of a few States must not be protected at the expense of humanity at large. Expressing concern over the polarization of OPCW's policy organs, he pointed to a move away from the consensus of the past. In addition, he noted that at least some progress was made at the seventh review process of the Arms Trade Treaty, despite the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), aligning himself with the European Union, called for the full implementation of the regional conventional arms control arrangements that are crucial to European security and stability. Voicing concern that the major military exercises carried out by the Russian Federation and Belarus once again lacked transparency, he said the notified number of participants did not correspond to reality, while military observers were not invited in accordance with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Vienna Document. Launching negotiations for the modernization of that text would be a significant positive step to restoring trust and predictability in Europe, he said, also pointing to the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and transfers of weapon systems, including nuclear‑capable aircraft. Also voicing concern about the Russian Federation's military presence in Georgia, he highlighted ongoing violations of freedom of movement, including through the so‑called "borderization" process.

JEFFREY EBERHARDT (United States) said his country is working to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, while ensuring the United States' strategic deterrence remains safe, secure and effective and that extended deterrence commitments to allies remain strong and credible. However, China is building a larger, more diverse nuclear arsenal than the "minimum deterrent" it has touted for decades, he warned. In that context, he encouraged Beijing to engage with the United States on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races and conflict. Turning to chemical weapons, he recalled the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and urged the Russian Federation to answer the questions submitted by the United States and 44 other co‑sponsors at OPCW last week. As for biological weapons, the United States will propose that States parties adopt measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention immediately and, simultaneously, take steps to intensively explore measures to strengthen implementation and promote compliance.

RUTH HILL (Australia) said the world is at a pivotal moment in nuclear disarmament, and the Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference must focus on areas of convergence. Her delegation is committed to promoting practical measures towards progressive steps across the pillars and advocates for proposals to strengthen its review process towards risk reduction, verification measures and safeguards. As a near‑universal instrument, the Treaty is a pact that unites, as both nuclear and non‑nuclear‑weapon States can see there is more safety in eliminating the weapons. She noted that since August 2020, Australia has called on the Russian Federation to explain the Alexei Navalny incident, joining 44 other States to demand answers and urge that Government to engage in good faith. She further stated it is incumbent upon all nations to protect infrastructure from an arms race in outer space, noting that the dual use of instruments in that arena makes non‑transparency unverifiable and unworkable.

MARCIN CZEPELAK (Poland) voiced concern over the state of the global arms control system, while describing the extension of the New START Treaty as a positive step in maintaining strategic stability between the United States and the Russian Federation. Calling upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to engage in denuclearization talks and abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and activities, he also expressed hope that Iran will return to Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations without further delay, and that parties will finally reach consensus on its reactivation. Voicing further concern over the use of chemical weapons in countries including Iraq, Malaysia, Syria, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, he urged the international community to convey a strong and unambiguous message of support for the Chemical Weapons Convention. Appealing to all parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to pay their contributions on time and in full, he also noted his country's efforts to promote responsible policies towards small arms and light weapons and its commitment to the Anti‑Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

DOFINI AUBIN TIAHOUN (Burkina Faso) said the illicit arms trade poses a threat to peace, security and stability in many parts of the world, fuelling conflicts and spurring transnational criminal networks and terrorist groups while causing the deaths of thousands of people as well as massive displacement. They constitute a direct threat to the stability of States and an obstacle to their socioeconomic development, he emphasized, noting that terrorist groups increasingly use improvised explosive devices. To address those and related threats calls for universal adherence to the Ottawa Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, stressing the need to prioritize multilateralism in order to ensure responsible arms transfers and the legitimate and responsible use of conventional weapons.

TAINÃ LEITE NOVAES (Brazil), endorsing the statement delivered on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said States should have meaningful discussions at the forthcoming Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Meanwhile, the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is cause for hope, he added. Highlighting the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, he said that entity is an example for trust‑building among States. As a party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Brazil believes the creation of new nuclear‑weapon‑free zones will be part of a crucial step towards realizing a world free of such weapons, he said, adding that his delegation will table a related draft resolution. Describing the Chemical Weapons Convention as the "gold standard" of disarmament treaties, he said that, as a spacefaring nation, Brazil has participated in negotiations on a legally binding instrument on that subject. He went on to state that the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons should include on its agenda a set of recommendations on ensuring that humans retain control of such systems.

ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine) said his country is one of the major contributors to international peace and security, having voluntarily surrendered the world's third‑largest nuclear weapons arsenal under the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. He noted that the Russian Federation launched a terrifying assault on Ukraine, occupying the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Despite calls by the guarantor States, the Russian Federation has ignored all calls for consultations, he said, adding that his delegation is seeking an international agreement to replace the Budapest Memorandum. Condemning the attack on Alexei Navalny in the strongest terms, he noted that the use of a Novichok agent has been confirmed by laboratories and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He went on to denounce Syria's use of chemical weapons as a violation under international law. He further noted the ruinous consequences of Russian aggression, saying it affects biosafety and biosecurity, as well as the destabilizing transfer of conventional weapons across the Ukraine/Russian Federation border.

WU JIANJUN (China) said his country pursues a self‑defence strategy and has pledged not to use nuclear weapons first at any time, under any circumstances, or against non‑nuclear‑weapon States and weapon‑free zones. The United States, however, is in pursuit of military superiority, making huge investments in its nuclear trinity and deploying a global anti‑missile system, he noted. As the State that has conducted the most nuclear tests in the world, that country should fulfil its disarmament responsibilities, he emphasized. Expressing concern over cooperation on nuclear submarines, he said it is against the spirit of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. He warned that the double standards practised by the United States and United Kingdom will affect hotspot issues, and questioned the seriousness of Australia's commitments to non‑proliferation. He went on to stress that, in the wake of its disposal of irradiated water, Japan must address international concerns, also calling for enhancement of global governance on biosecurity. China supports the peaceful use and non‑weaponization of outer space to prevent it becoming a new battlefield, he affirmed.

YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the pursuit of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world is challenged by the United States, which continues to amass weapons and modernize its arsenals. Calling for universal adherence to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he noted that Cuba is a party to the world's first nuclear‑weapon‑free zone under the Treaty of Tlatelolco and expressed support for the creation of new zones. He rejected the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As for the activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he emphasized that only a political solution will resolve challenges on the Korean Peninsula. Cuba calls for strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention through a legally binding protocol, he said, adding that his country also opposes unilateral coercive measures and calling upon the United States to lift the blockade against Cuba. He went on to affirm that the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons is critical in stopping the spread of illicit trafficking and called for efforts to examine its root causes. Turning to emerging threats, he said lethal autonomous weapons must be fully regulated, stressing the need for a legally binding agreement to prevent the weaponization of outer space.

JIM KELLY (Ireland), describing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a landmark moment for disarmament, called on the eight remaining Annex 2 States to join the Test‑Ban Treaty. He also expressed hope for further progress following the 2019 political declaration emanating from the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. He urged all sides to return to talks on full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Emphasizing the importance of conducting space activities in accordance with international law, he also recognized that export control regimes are central to countering the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction. Addressing the far‑reaching effects of explosive weapons in populated areas, he said that is a priority for Ireland, which is leading a diplomatic process in Geneva to elaborate a political declaration on that critical issue. Ireland will also pursue progress on the question of improvised explosive devices and mines other than anti‑personnel mines, he said. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons must remain responsive to emerging challenges, he added. Concerned about the considerable ethical, moral and legal dilemmas posed by autonomous weapon systems, he stressed that those that do not incorporate human control must not be developed, deployed or used.

PANKAJ SHARMA (India), spotlighting the crucial role of the United Nations disarmament machinery in tackling today's multiple and evolving security threats, recalled his country's 2007 proposal for a step‑by‑step approach to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Expressing his country's support for the launch of negotiations on a non‑discriminatory, multilateral, verifiable fissile material cut‑off treaty, he emphasized that India is a responsible nuclear‑weapon State and follows a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on the "no‑first‑use posture" and the policy of non‑use of nuclear weapons against non‑nuclear‑weapon States. "We are prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements," he said, also citing his country's voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. Among other important resolutions, India submitted a draft resolution titled "Reducing Nuclear Danger" to the General Assembly, he said, adding that the text drew attention to the hair‑trigger alert of nuclear weapons carrying unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use.

YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, said his delegation is working to have Iran return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Calling upon that country to cease all ballistic missile activities, he also noted that the missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are a reminder that it runs a programme of weapons systems with no regard for international security. He said the taboo on chemical weapons, once thought inviolable, has broken in just a few years, noting Syria's flagrant non‑cooperation and refusal to reveal its stockpiles. The poisoning of Alexei Navalny, confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, is yet another example of detestable use, he pointed out. Emphasizing the importance of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, he said his country will chair the Review Conference on Certain Conventional Weapons in December. He went on to state that poor management of conventional stocks is a major problem, noting that, alongside Germany, France will present a report on problems around surplus stockpiles of classic munitions. He called for a behaviour‑based approach to reducing the risk of escalation in outer space.

ANA NEMBA UAIENE (Mozambique) noted that her country's Government has integrated the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons into domestic law and regularly conducts public campaigns to share its measures and strategies on that matter. Controlling the transfer of arms is one of the Government's high priorities, she said, noting its support for transparent production and transfers of small arms and light weapons. She went on to note that, as a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty, Mozambique welcomes the $100,000 Small Arms and Explosives Management System Project approved by the Secretariat, which will help to make operational four modules of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique Central Database. She emphasized the need to build an articulated common strategy and joint inspections among Southern African security forces in light of the rise of terrorism and organized crime in the subregion, particularly in Mozambique. She went on to point out that, as a result of demining efforts, Mozambique was formally declared free of anti‑personnel mines in 2015, after removing and destroying an estimated 10,000 landmines and other explosive remnants of war, stressing that the Government recognizes its responsibility for assisting mine survivors and victims.

KIM IN CHOL (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) recalled that catastrophic damage resulted from the first use of nuclear weapons, and whereas it is the duty of the international community to protect coming generations, the world instead sees an arms race in full swing. Spending more than $700 billion annually, he said, the United States is developing, among other weapons, hypersonic missiles and new‑generation intercontinental ballistic missiles, while violating agreements by transferring submarine technology to Australia, thereby destroying the arms balance in the Asia‑Pacific region. He emphasized that, as the country with the largest arsenal and the only one to have used nuclear weapons, the United States should take the lead on disarmament. That State has antagonized the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for several decades, leaving it no other option but the arduous road to deterrence in righteous self‑defence, he added. He stressed that his country intends no harm to neighbouring countries and will not misuse its weapons, pledging that Pyongyang will make active contributions to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and around the world.

PETRA HOFÍRKOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, said all States must adhere to their commitments, and any nuclear disarmament initiative must reflect the current reality. With the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of such efforts, the IAEA plays a central role in that regard, she noted. Urging States to sign the Test‑Ban Treaty, she expressed hope that the extension of the New START Treaty is a sign of future progress. Calling for full implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, she emphasized the need to advance progress on mine action while stressing that outer space must always remain weapons‑free.

ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said that being tasked with disarmament and international security, the First Committee is fundamental to the overall work of the United Nations. He explained that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening human rights, and recovering from the pandemic all require a foundation of peace. However, an array of issues is undermining collective security and must be addressed before the major social and environmental challenges can be tackled, he noted. While applauding the milestone entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called upon the Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty. He also encouraged States parties to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty to use the opportunity of the upcoming Review Conference to renew their commitments.

He noted that, in the twenty‑first century, discussions about peace and security extend to cyberspace, emphasizing that the international community must collectively commit to peaceful use of information and communications technology. He encouraged strengthening cooperation between the Open‑Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications, and the Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace. While urging Member States to work together to ensure peaceful use of outer space amid the recent, welcome resurgence of space exploration, he also called for greater efforts to combat the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. "As Member States we are diverse in our outlooks," he said, adding: "However, there are certain hopes that unite all of us and certain interests that transcend our differences."

ROBERT FLOYD, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, observed that the international community declared an end to the era of unrestrained nuclear testing with the adoption of the Test‑Ban Treaty. With state-of‑the‑art monitoring technologies and advanced detection and data processing capabilities, the Treaty's global verification regime has proven its ability to meet the verification requirements contained therein, he said. Furthermore, the democratic nature of the verification regime ensures that all States signatories enjoy equal access to monitoring data and analysis, and to the benefits of the Organization's technical training and capacity‑building programmes. He went on to call upon States that have yet to sign or ratify the Treaty to do so, adding that his Organization is ready to help in facilitating the process.

SARA LINDEGREN (Sweden), associating herself with the European Union, said that, amid the fragile security environment, States must work together to protect and strengthen the international arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation architecture. Multilateralism matters, she added, emphasizing the importance of a successful outcome from the 2022 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. With the Stockholm Initiative ‑ comprising 16 other nuclear‑weapon‑free States ‑ Sweden aims to build political support for a result‑oriented disarmament agenda through 22 "stepping stones" to progress, she said. While noting that the nuclear-weapon States have a special responsibility for disarmament and arms control, she welcomed the New START Treaty extension and future related agreements on, among other things, mitigating the demise of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Pending the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, all existing moratoria on nuclear test explosions must be maintained, she stressed, urging Annex 2 States to join that instrument. She strongly urged States to engage in nuclear disarmament verification efforts, noting that Sweden is actively involved in partnerships with a view to delivering concrete insights into future verification requirements. Reaffirming the IAEA's indispensable role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promoting nuclear and radiation safety and facilitating access to related technology, including in such areas as health and agriculture, she underlined that the Agency must receive the necessary political and financial support to fulfil its mandate.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) welcomed any at nuclear disarmament initiative and encouraged full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a key to regional stability. He also called for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Highlighting the importance of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, he encouraged all parties to overcome their differences over the Treaty of Bangkok and its Protocol. On weapons of mass destruction, he called for strengthening existing conventions. He recalled a recent incident in Yangon, in which clouds of smoke appeared, saying reports show that Myanmar's military may have been spreading toxins by air. Information also indicates that a military‑controlled facility that had produced mustard gas in the 1980s and has not yet been declared under the Chemical Weapons Convention, he added. Strong and effective control over small arms and light weapons must continue, he stressed. He warned that the military is killing civilians and appealed to those States supplying it to stop doing so.

ABD-EL KADER YASMIN TCHALARE (Togo), associating himself with the African Group, said ongoing conflicts, terrorist attacks and mounting tensions form an unfortunate backdrop for disarmament efforts. There is urgent need to implement the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said, calling upon States to join that and other related conventions. Expressing regret at the breakdown of the ninth Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he expressed hope for a successful outcome at the forthcoming meeting in 2022. Emphasizing that States must adhere to all disarmament conventions, he said the pandemic serves as a reminder of the importance of working together towards common goals.

VINCENT CHOFFAT (Switzerland), recalling that his country hosted the second Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September, said the parties adopted a strong political declaration underlining their resolve to promote the norms established by that treaty and to further universal adherence. Expressing concern over the growing urbanization of armed conflicts, he emphasized the need to strengthen the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons use in populated areas. On nuclear weapons, he welcomed the diplomatic progress while noting that many challenges remain, notably regarding Iran's nuclear programme and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's advances on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. The "De-alerting Group" is working to help reduce the operational readiness of nuclear weapons, and hopes to achieve positive results, he said. Condemning all use of chemical weapons as reprehensible, she pointed out that a clear majority of States parties imposed sanctions on Syria for non‑compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention in response to its unacceptable violation. She went on to call upon the Russian Federation to launch a criminal investigation into the use of a nerve agent against Alexei Navalny.

PIETRO DE MARTIN TOPRANIN (Italy) said that as the world strives for true progress on nuclear disarmament, one important measure is the prompt entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, noting that all States respect the current moratorium. Securing sensitive materials, especially against access by terrorist networks, remains a challenge, he emphasized, calling for Member States to strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. Condemning the use of chemical weapons anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, he underlined the need to ensure accountability and fight impunity for that alarming trend. Italy is committed to a dedicated Trust Fund for Humanitarian Demining established by law in 2001, he said, adding that it has allocated more than €62 million to mine‑action programmes and will double its 2020 budget in 2021. He went on to stress that any existing or future weapon systems must be under human control, especially when engaging in the use of lethal force.

MEMET MEVLÜT YAKUT (Turkey), welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty and the renewed strategic dialogue between the Russian Federation and the United States, said the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the only credible path towards disarmament. The forthcoming Review Conference will be a crucial first step in reaffirming past commitments, he added. He noted that the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, of which Turkey is a member, has produced a set of recommendations as a contribution to a successful outcome. Turkey hopes that talks on upholding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume, he said, also urging the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear‑weapon activities. Stressing the central role of the Test‑Ban Treaty, he urged all States to join it and called for the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament. He also encouraged progress towards creating a nuclear‑weapon‑free Middle East. Expressing deep concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of their acquisition by non‑State actors, he condemned their use in Syria, saying that country must be held accountable and cooperate fully with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Secretary‑General's new mechanism to investigate reports on the use of chemical and biological weapons must remain independent, he said.

LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) expressed his country's pride in belonging to the first nuclear­‑weapon‑free zone under the Treaty of Tlatelolco. He said the existence, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a cause for grave concern, and emphasized that prohibition and complete elimination are the only effective solutions. Firmly condemning any kind of nuclear test, he called upon the eight Annex 2 countries to join the Test‑Ban Treaty and pursue progress on a fissile material cut‑off treaty. He affirmed that outer space must be governed by the principles of non‑appropriation and peaceful use. Emphasizing that there is no justification for the use of chemical weapons, he said such attacks are in grave violation of the rules‑based international order and should never go unpunished. He went on to condemn the scourge of armed violence driven by small arms and light weapons.