Non-Proliferation - 8733rd Security Council Meeting

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26-Feb-2020 01:46:22
Upcoming review conference offers chance to celebrate ‘lynchpin’ nuclear non-proliferation treaty, High Representative tells Security Council.

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Viet Nam Notes Continuing Insecurity of Non-Weapon States, as South Africa Says Meeting Must Not Roll Back Agreements Already Reached

The upcoming conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons — which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of its entry into force — will be an opportunity not only to celebrate that instrument’s many achievements, but also to ensure that it remains the lynchpin of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council today.

“We cannot skate over the fact that the world is a very different place than it was in 2015, let alone 2010,” Izumi Nakamitsu told members, referring to the years in which the two previous review conferences were held, as the Council considered the next gathering of States parties, in New York from 27 April to 22 May.

Failure to secure a successful outcome from the Review Conference will not doom the Treaty, but it will undermine the value that so many Member States place on it, she said, urging States parties to aim for high-level reaffirmation of their commitment to the Treaty, recommit to the norm against the use of nuclear weapons, develop a package of risk-reduction measures, and endorse the Treaty’s Additional Protocol as the standard for nuclear safeguard inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Also briefing Council members, Gustavo Zlauvinen (Argentina), President-designate of the 2020 Review Conference, expressed hope that it will produce an outcome document that takes into account not simply the immediate context — with its limitations and opportunities — but also medium-term and future aspirations. “We need to be ambitious and aim for progress in every possible area,” he emphasized, agreeing with the High Representative that all States parties must recommit to full implementation of the Treaty and to strengthening it with a forward-looking perspective.

In the ensuing debate, Council members acknowledged the Treaty’s contribution to international peace and security while stressing the need to remain focused on nuclear developments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran. However, views diverged on the way forward, with nuclear-weapon States reiterating their opposition to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, signed by 81 countries so far.

Heiko Maas, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, called for practical measures to reduce nuclear risks, rebuild trust and improve verification. Reporting on the 25 February meeting held in Berlin by supporters of the Stockholm Initiative on Nuclear Disarmament, he said the United States and the Russian Federation must demonstrate leadership by extending the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty). “We must attain a world without nuclear weapons [and] no one bears greater responsibility than the members of this Council,” he emphasized.

The Russian Federation’s representative emphasized that non-proliferation and arms-control mechanisms have broken down owing to the desire of one State to impose its own rules on others. Forceful actions by the United States, and its threats against the Russian Federation, only make it harder to free the world of nuclear weapons, he said, adding that Washington has been weakening the defensive capacities of States by illegitimate means.

The representative of the United States said it has been possible for her country and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenals to levels not seen since the 1950s, thanks to the easing of cold war tensions. However, the advance towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons must take the global security environment into account, she said, emphasizing that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons deliberately ignores the security challenges that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary.

China’s representative urged States possessing the largest nuclear arsenals to make further drastic cuts, adding that countries should promote political solutions to hot-spot issues and fully tap the potential to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy — an inalienable right that the Treaty confers upon States parties.

Viet Nam’s representative pointed out that the only thing that remains undiminished 50 years after the Treaty’s entry into force is the insecurity of non-nuclear States that have implemented their obligations in good faith. Recalling that five of the nine previous review conferences failed to reach consensus, he stressed the need for confidence-building measures as well as full implementation of non-proliferation obligations.

South Africa’s representative said while non-proliferation measures have been strengthened over the years, similar progress has been lacking in the area of disarmament. “This state of affairs places the [Treaty] and its review processes under increasing pressure,” she noted, stressing that the Review Conference should not roll back or reinterpret agreements reached since 1995.

Representatives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Indonesia, Niger, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Estonia, France and Belgium also delivered statements.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 4:50 p.m.

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