Burgeoning ‘Race for Weapons’ Evokes Cold War, Threatens Disarmament Gains, Speakers Warn, as First Committee Concludes General Debate

The proliferation of weapons and rising military activism made it appear as though the world was engaged in another “cold war with a race for weapons”, delegates warned today as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its general debate.

Adding to the urgency were looming threats to peace and security by terrorist and other armed groups, said Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate, one of several speakers to raise concerns about an escalating arms race.  Pakistan’s representative cited growing mistrust and insatiable desire for military dominance on the part of a few actors as factors threatening regional and international security, and said his own country’s security policy was defined by constraint, responsibility and avoidance of the arms race.

Some delegates cited the destabilizing consequences of the surge in weapons manufacturing, with Uruguay’s representative emphasizing that the spread of conventional arms - the true weapons of mass destruction – must be stopped.  He pointed out that 74 per cent of the total volume of weapons exported between 2011 and 2015 had originated from the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Burkina Faso’s delegate said that such weapons breathed life into armed violence and hindered socioeconomic development in the region.  Elaborating on that point, Iran’s representative said the continuing overproduction of conventional weapons by major arms-producing countries and the excessive importation of such weaponry by oil-rich Persian Gulf countries had led to death and destruction in Yemen.  Moreover, a new atomic arms race and fresh efforts to modernize nuclear arsenals presented real setbacks for efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free world, he added.  However, the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme was a win-win achievement, he stressed.  For the Plan of Action to remain so, however, all participants must continue to implement its provisions fully, he cautioned.

Many speakers highlighted the significant contributions of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, with Malaysia’s representative saying that such designated areas strengthened peace and security while promoting greater transparency and dialogue in reducing regional tensions.

Delivering statements today were representatives of Congo, Central African Republic, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Timor-Leste, San Marino, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Liechtenstein, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Brunei Darussalam, Albania, Fiji, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia, Belarus (for the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Slovenia, Bangladesh and Tajikistan, as well as the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

Also speaking were representatives of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The representatives of Qatar, United States, Syria, Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 11 October, to begin thematic debates and hear the introduction of draft resolutions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Statements

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted promising disarmament developments, including the Disarmament Commission’s introduction of confidence-building measures, the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the successful conclusion of the Eighth Review Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  Yet, a new atomic arms race and fresh efforts to modernize arsenals presented real setbacks in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Raising other concerns, he said the stalemate in establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East was due to “stubborn policies of the Israeli regime”, whose nuclear weapons continued to threaten the peace and security of the region and beyond.  On the issue of conventional weapons, he said their unabated overproduction by major arms-producing countries to regions of conflict could be seen in the excessive import of such weapons by oil-rich Persian Gulf countries used for death and destruction in Yemen.

Turning to positive developments, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme had put an end to a manufactured crisis.  Its conclusion had demonstrated its significant role in international relations.  For its part, Iran had fully implemented all of its nuclear-related commitments, as reflected in eight consecutive reports.  Any continued significant non‑implementation of commitments contained in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by one of its participants would result in a proportionate reaction by Iran.  The conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a win-win achievement, and to remain so, the full and continued implementation by all participants was essential.

JEAN DIDIER CLOVIS NGOULOU (Congo), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite progress in disarmament efforts, the major issue of non-proliferation remained.  The threat of nuclear weapons was a troubling reality that called for an appropriate response, particularly as arms could reach the wrong hands, he said, expressing support for Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Welcoming efforts to help the Conference on Disarmament break its current impasse, he said Congo had, for its part, taken a number of steps on disarmament issues, including implementing the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

AUGUSTIN OSMOND GOUROU (Central African Republic), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the planet was facing many security challenges, including the use of nuclear and chemical weapons and the proliferation of small and light weapons.  Having signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Central African Republic called on all States to agree to the principle of the non-use of those weapons.  In light of threats from terrorist groups like Boko Haram and the spillover of weapons from surrounding countries, the Central African Republic had been among the first to sign and ratify the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and All Parts and Components That Can Be Used for Their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention), whose entry into force would be fundamental for controlling small arms and light weapons.  With that goal in mind, he called on States of the region to do the same and encouraged all nations to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.

M. SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), endorsing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, convinced that the political and legal impact of that instrument would steer the international community towards the elimination of such weapons and the maintenance of a world free of them.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones strengthened peace and security, promoted greater transparency and dialogue and reduced the risk of regional tensions, he said, underlining Malaysia’s firm commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok).

BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan), reviewing his country’s role in the establishment of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (Semipalatinsk Treaty), said the region was facing several threats and challenges.  They included instability in Afghanistan, terrorism and creeping radicalization, drug trafficking and organized crime.  Uzbekistan sought to actively engage its neighbours to jointly address those issues, he said, including by hosting in November a high-level international conference on security and sustainable development in Central Asia under the auspices of the United Nations.

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) said national capacity-building and strengthening institutions were among the steps needed to address existing threats and emerging challenges, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the growing risk of their falling into terrorist groups’ hands.  For its part, Armenia had supported strengthening the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention and efforts to establish an international convention to suppress acts of chemical and biological terrorism.  Enhanced international cooperation was key to developing a range of specific measures to increase the Biological Weapons Convention’s operational capabilities.  To address concerns about smuggling nuclear and radioactive material, Armenia had taken a number of steps to strengthen border security.

FULGENCIO CORBAFO (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was preparing to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  On the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signatories must pursue their joint efforts ahead of the 2020 Review Conference.  Together, the United Nations and the collective efforts of its Member States could lead to total nuclear disarmament.  He congratulated the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, emphasizing that at a time of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, it served as a reminder that there were no winners if nuclear weapons were ever used again.

NATASCIA BARTOLINI (San Marino), emphasizing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic activities constituted an extremely serious threat to international security, called on the country to abandon its programme and on all States to implement relevant Security Council resolutions.  Welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said the instrument was a step in the right direction and a contribution for the safeguarding of humanity.  Condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, she reiterated that those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable.

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said threats to peace and security by terrorist and armed groups, the spread of small arms and light weapons and a rise in military activism made it appear that the world was engaged in another “cold war with a race for weapons” encompassing it.  Emphasizing that all Member States must address disarmament, he said Côte d’Ivoire had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had been a major reaffirmation by those States to protect the planet and future generations.  Action was needed, he said, calling on remaining Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  Worried about nuclear weapon testing, he welcomed Security Council resolution 2310 (2016), asking that the moratorium be maintained.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said multilateralism was a way to ensure longstanding peace in the face of current security challenges.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would strengthen the non-proliferation system, but he regretted to note the failure of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons regarding the establishment of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The universalization of all treaties prohibiting nuclear weapons was essential.  Further, the Arms Trade Treaty was vital in Africa, where small arms and light weapons continued to cause conflict and trafficking.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the need for multilateral action to counter the threat of nuclearization.  In that regard, the commitment of all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was crucial.  Afghanistan strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear tests and urged all States to sign, ratify and support non-proliferation and disarmament treaties.  It also strongly favoured a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Underscoring the abundant trafficking of small arms and light weapons across the Afghanistan‑Pakistan border, he called on all relevant parties to further strengthen their rules and regulations to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in such weapons.  Turning to other pressing issues, he said Afghanistan remained among those worst affected by improvised explosive devices, which in the first half of 2017 had caused more than 1,500 civilian casualties, asking Member States to support a resolution on the issue.

FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said rising mistrust and an insatiable desire for military dominance by a few actors was threatening regional and international security.  Pakistan’s security policy was defined by constraint, responsibility and the avoidance of an arms race.  In the South Asia region, Pakistan supported a nuclear-test-ban treaty.  Turning to the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, he said proposals of adding more non-disarmament-related measures to its agenda were being driven by the self-serving interests of certain States.  Such actions were divisive and not going to work.  The Conference on Disarmament was the forum for negotiations on a universal, non-discriminatory nuclear weapons convention, negative security assurances and on the peaceful use of outer space.

With respect to a fissile material cut-off treaty, major differences existed based on fundamental concerns that could “not be wished away by creative drafting”, he said, adding that such a convention must be undertaken in the Conference on Disarmament and must explicitly address the asymmetries in fissile material stock.  Pakistan was a mainstream partner in global efforts to secure export controls and had fulfilled all requirements of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  A party to both conventions covering chemical and biological weapons, Pakistan valued those instruments and was interested in strengthening both those regimes.

PETER MATT (Liechtenstein), welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, said the normative reach of its provisions would grow stronger and more compelling over time, consequently providing additional incentives for States to reduce their stockpiles.  “The Treaty extends a hand to these States, while strengthening and complementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he noted, recalling that Europe had once been a positive example of how military confidence-building measures could reduce tensions, even at times of deep political and ideological divisions.  However, with the loss of valuable mutual commitments to transparency and military restraint, States had found themselves in a new arms race.  Expressing support for ongoing efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) towards a structured dialogue on common security challenges, he hoped such initiatives would eventually translate into de-escalation on the ground, giving way to a new security consensus based on the common set of principles that had successfully underpinned European security for decades.  A new commitment to conventional arms control and disarmament could prove an important building block in that regard.

HTIN LYNN (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN, expressed alarm at the situation on the Korean Peninsula and emphasized there was still room for diplomacy and dialogue.  Turning to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said the integrity and credibility of the instrument depended upon a balanced implementation of its three pillars - disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Negotiations must be pursued in good faith on effective measures to cease the nuclear arms race and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament, he said, welcoming the opportunity presented by the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Pointing out that an additional $267 billion annually would be needed to end world hunger sustainably by 2030, he said if Governments could redirect only 16 per cent of the world’s total yearly military expenditure of $1.69 trillion for 15 years, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals would be completely met.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), as a non-nuclear-weapon State, said his country was committed to strengthening the non-proliferation and disarmament regime through multilateralism.  Being a signatory of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), Uruguay regretted to note the ongoing lack of commitment to convene a conference to establish such a zone in the Middle East.  Strengthening the disarmament regime required the prohibition and elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, he said, warning of the need to address the potential risk of terrorist groups using such arms.  Further, the spread of the true weapons of mass destruction – conventional arms - must be stopped, he said, underlining that 74 per cent of the total volume of weapons exported between 2011 and 2015 came from the five permanent members of the Security Council.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said wisdom, diplomacy and the careful handling of security issues was as critical today as it had been during the cold war.  That was how the issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should be viewed, she said, adding that the danger of the use of nuclear weapons must be removed.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was an important milestone on the road to a world without such arms and the new instrument complemented and reinforced the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Outlining a number of other important conventions, she expressed Ethiopia’s commitment to the African Nuclear-Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) and called on States that had not yet done so - especially Annex 2 States - to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty.

MARINA BINTI ABDULLAH SITAU (Brunei Darussalam), associating herself with ASEAN, reiterated her country’s support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and encouraged remaining Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty.  Brunei Darussalam looked forward to signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which marked an important step towards a world without those arms.  It was deeply worrying that attempts were still being made to use chemical weapons, especially by non-State actors, she said, reiterating Brunei Darussalam’s strong support for Security Council resolution 2325 (2016), which had called for a framework to prevent terrorists and other non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said disarmament issues required the entire international community to work together.  The proliferation of small arms and light weapons was an issue of real concern, fuelling conflict and affecting Burkina Faso and particularly West Africa.  Such weapons breathed life into armed violence and hindered socioeconomic development in the region, she noted, commending the Arms Trade Treaty as a response to regulate conventional arms and calling for its full universalization.  While welcoming the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, including one in the Middle East, she regretted to note the “sad reality” that the Test-Ban Treaty had still not entered into force.  Expressing faith in complete and general disarmament efforts, she called for international obligations to be followed strictly by States in order to help achieve peace and build a better world for future generations.

ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said that the complexity of the security environment was increasing at a pace that required an immediate and strong multilateral reaction through both political and diplomatic channels.  At national and international levels, Albania stood behind the long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and strongly supported the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime that would provide for tangible progress towards that objective.  For multilateralism to be effective, the international community must work to keep in place the peaceful solutions already achieved.

GENE BAI (Fiji), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that just as his small island developing State was at the mercy of the international community for reducing carbon emissions, it was also at the mercy of nuclear-weapon States for eliminating the threat of nuclear conflict.  Recalling the devastation caused by the nuclear tests conducted on over 300 Pacific islands, he noted that beyond the long-lasting environmental impact, many sufferers had been left without any compensation or redress.  “The silence of some of the offending States is deafening”, he said, calling on countries that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Test-Ban Treaty.

AIBEK MOLDOGAZIEV (Kyrgyzstan) actively supported the idea of a world free from nuclear weapons, with the Test-Ban Treaty being one of the fundamental and effective instruments for disarmament and non-proliferation.  Although the Treaty had not entered into force, all States had adhered to a moratorium on testing, except the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whose actions Kyrgyzstan condemned.  Noting the danger of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he urged the international community to take all necessary measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring such weapons.

NATALJA LUTTS (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said there must be progress towards the universalization, effective implementation and strengthening of existing international law, including disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation instruments and regimes.  “Our citizens expect nothing less from us”, she said.  Estonia strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to change its course regarding nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and to comply with its international obligations.  She also called for the renewal of the mandate of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism and its work in Syria.  Amid current conflicts and crisis, it was important to ensure that women and children did not fall victim to gender-based violence and were included in conflict resolution and peace negotiations, she said, emphasizing the need to continue implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.

NIKOLAI OVSYANKO (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), highlighted serious concerns about the instability around the world.  Expressing a commitment to stability based on cooperation, he called for the restoration of dialogue to prevent an arms race.  Supporting the goal of building a nuclear-weapon-free world, he called for the peaceful use of outer space.  Emphasizing that the international community must avoid making space an area of armed confrontation, he supported the related Russian-Chinese draft proposal.  To the growing danger of terrorist and criminal groups using chemical and biological weapons, he underlined the importance of an international convention to address chemical and biological terrorism.  Calling on States to comply with the United Nations Charter and generally recognized norms of international law, he said respect must be given to States’ legitimate interests and unique regional situations.

ONDINA BLOKAR-DROBIC (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, highlighted the importance of the full implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test-Ban Treaty.  Commending the progress of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she called for continued compliance with the nuclear deal by all sides.  Slovenia was committed to a progressive approach to nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  She condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and expressed concern about the rising numbers of mine and cluster munitions victims.  Slovenia supported assistance to mine and cluster munitions victims and the establishment of an international trust fund.  Slovenia regretted that its own cluster munition stockpiles, which were sent for destruction in 2011, had not yet been completely and irreversibly destroyed by the service provider, she said, expressing hope that they would soon be permanently destroyed.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern for the brinkmanship around the use of nuclear weapons.  He reiterated his Government’s serious concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests and called for dialogue to de-escalate the situation.  Raising other concerns, he pointed at the pace and progress of nuclear disarmament efforts by nuclear-weapon States.  The notion of security assurances paled in comparison to the consequences of their use, he said.  Invoking the chilling prospect of terrorists acquiring chemical and biological weapons, he warned that such a scenario was becoming more real than had been previously thought, particularly with advancements in artificial intelligence.  As such, he called for the issue to be mainstreamed into Committee discussions.  He went on to express grave concerns over the situation on his country’s border with Myanmar, where there had been several casualties caused by anti-personnel mines against a backdrop of a massive exodus of Rohingya refugees. 

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the hopes for a more peaceful and secure world were threatened by the ever-increasing arms production, including nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction.  The arms trade, both licit and illicit, kept expanding.  Those disturbing trends threatened the existing architecture of arms control and non-proliferation.  While welcoming the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he noted the halting progress on advancing the objectives of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He urged those States whose ratifications were required for the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty to act quickly in order to convince the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ratify the instrument and end its nuclear arms programme.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) emphasized the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  On the Semipalatinsk Treaty, he encouraged the prompt ratification of an additional protocol that had been signed by the Security Council’s five permanent members on 6 May 2014.  He also noted the importance of the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines in Central Asia.  Expressing concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear testing activities, Tajikistan supported ongoing efforts to resolve the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula using political and diplomatic means.

LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES, Secretary-General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), highlighted that nuclear-weapon-free zones had been conceived, proposed, negotiated and brought to reality during one of the worst phases of the cold war.  Such zones had proven to be so successful that they had been expanded to four other regions, today encompassing a total of 115 States.  Such zones were not only a legal and political innovation, but a practical and political success, he said, noting that the increase in the number of nuclear-weapon-free zones was inversely proportional to the danger of nuclear holocaust.

He said the Agency had been ensuring full compliance with the obligations contained in Treaty of Tlatelolco.  Highlighting interpretative declarations made by some States parties to the additional protocols to the Treaty, he said those provisions had addressed the issue of ensuring the observance of the Treaty by specific extraregional States.  In recent years, parts of some interpretative declarations had been found to be in breach of the obligations assumed by States parties to the additional protocols.  However, a resolution to that problem had been reached through negotiations, he said, adding that the process had demonstrated an improvement in multilateral relations on the issue of nuclear weapons.

MAJED BAMYA, Observer for the State of Palestine, associated himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement.  Noting the State of Palestine’s adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he regretted to note the lack of implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and expressed disappointment that a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had not yet been established.  Israel continued to illegally develop a nuclear arsenal, thus blocking the prospect of such a zone in the Middle East.  Discussions on that and related issues should be focused on the belief that nuclear weapons were a threat to humanity, went against international law and should be forever banned.

XOLISA MABHONGO, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), provided a snapshot of its recent general conference session, noting its adoption of a resolution on strengthening and improving the efficiency of the Agency’s safeguards.  Furthermore, the Agency had drawn conclusions independently verifying the correctness and completeness of States’ declarations about their nuclear material, activities and facilities.  Safeguard agreements were currently in force with 182 States, of which 174 were non-nuclear-weapon States.  However, 12 States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty had yet to bring into force comprehensive safeguard agreements with the Agency, as required by Article III of the Treaty, he said, urging all remaining signatories to conclude their safeguard agreements as soon as possible.

In addition, he said the Agency had continued to verify and monitor the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Those commitments were being implemented, he confirmed, adding that Iran was now subjected to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.  At the same time, evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran would continue.  However, the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a matter of grave concern and the Agency was working to maintain its readiness to return the country when it was possible.

KATHLEEN LAWAND, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), congratulating the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons on its Nobel Peace Prize, said it was profoundly disturbing that, with rising regional and international tensions, the risk of nuclear weapon use by accident, miscalculation or intent had reached levels not seen since the cold war.  In that regard, risk reduction efforts could provide a common ground between States that had adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and those not yet ready to join it.  Regardless of their views on that instrument, all States should acknowledge that any risk of use of nuclear weapons was unacceptable.  Even a limited nuclear exchange would cause unspeakable human suffering and long-lasting irremediable global repercussions, she said, emphasizing that preventing the use of such weapons was a humanitarian imperative.

JOSÉ ROSEMBERG, of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said the value of Test-Ban Treaty was underpinned by a science-based verification regime capable of monitoring and detecting signs of nuclear explosions.  Data collected by the International Monitoring System was transmitted through the International Data Centre in Vienna to all signatories.  With the addition of data products reviewed by the Organization’s analysts, all States were thus empowered to come to an informed conclusion about the nature of any suspicious event.  In September, about 130 stations had contributed to the analysis of an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  That highlighted again the urgent need for the international community to put in place a verifiable legal ban on nuclear testing as soon as possible.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his country remained committed to respecting the United Nations Charter and to upholding claims of people to self-determination.

The representative of the United States said the Syrian regime had made that country an “incubator for terrorism”.  Urging Syria to end its chemical weapon attacks against its own people, he said the regime and its accomplices would be held accountable.

The representative of Syria said Turkey’s regime had nuclear weapons on its territory in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was breaching the Chemical Weapons Convention by supplying terrorist organizations with chemical materials.  Meanwhile, Qatar was one of the largest financers of terrorism in the world.  Moreover, Syria had fulfilled its obligations with regard to chemical weapons while the United States had continued to refuse to destroy its own chemical weapon arsenal.

The representative of Myanmar, responding to his counterpart from Bangladesh, said authorities had set up a working group on displaced persons based on an agreement between their two countries.  Such accusations were not constructive in helping the situation, he said, noting that Myanmar was willing to work with all international partners to address the issue of displaced persons.

The delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to comment made by several delegates and the IAEA representative, said the development and disposition of his country’s nuclear deterrence policy “is a legitimate right to protect its sovereignty”.

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