Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a UN Security Council meeting on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Confidence Building Measures, New York, January 18, 2018

Monday, 22 January 2018 17:06

Mr President,

Mr Secretary-General,

The Russian Federation welcomes the initiative of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on holding a special meeting of the UN Security Council on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Confidence Building Measures.

It was a timely proposal, considering that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the backbone of the international nuclear non-proliferation system, was opened for signature 50 years ago on July 1. We believe that the risks and threats we are facing in this sphere must be dealt with on the basis of the NPT through a balanced application of its three basic components: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Regrettably, we are approaching the 50th anniversary of this treaty with a major burden of differences that can complicate the current NPT review cycle, which will conclude with a Review Conference in 2020.

The main goals of this cycle include the reaffirmation of our commitment to the NPT goals and related obligations, as well as the reinforcement of the NPT based on the Action Plan, which was adopted at the 2010 Review Conference. To achieve these goals, all parties must overcome their reluctance to listen to each other, which marred the 2015 Review Conference.

At that time, we saw the domination of a dangerous and delusive trend towards forcing the nuclear powers to abandon their nuclear stockpiles without any regard for their security interests and strategic realities. This trend resulted in the accelerated drafting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty or NWBT), which is open for signature.

Russia does not intend to join the NWBT. We believe that complete elimination of nuclear weapons is only possible in the context of general and complete disarmament amid equal and indivisible security for all, including those possessing nuclear weapons, as it is stipulated in the NPT.

The provisions of the NWBT, which is open for signature, do not conform to these principles. The NWBT disregards the importance of taking stock of all the current factors that influence strategic stability. It has also provoked an international controversy and may have a destabilising effect on the non-proliferation regime.

I would like to point out that we support the goal of a nuclear-free world. However, the unbalanced methods that are stipulated in the NWBT are not good for achieving this goal.

The current review cycle has been complicated by the lack of clarity on the issue of the Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles (MEWMDFZ). We still believe in the importance of convening a conference on the WMD-Free Middle East and will continue to contribute towards this process. We see the earnest of its success in a broad regional security context. Russia’s specific proposals on this issue are well known to all the parties concerned and remain in place.

Yet another important problem is the state of affairs relative to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As a principled supporter of this Treaty, Russia is calling on all countries, upon which depends its coming into force, to finalise its signing and ratification, as it was repeatedly promised by some of the countries concerned. In this context, it is extremely important to ensure the continuation of the moratorium on all nuclear explosions.

The concrete priority steps designed to keep the nuclear non-proliferation regime at the current stage include the pooling of efforts in the interest of ensuring a sustained implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) to deal with the situation related to the Iranian nuclear programme. The UN Security Council has unanimously supported the JCPA by approving relevant Resolution 2231, which means that it bears responsibility for its implementation. Iran has strictly abided by its commitments, which is regularly confirmed by the IAEA. The overwhelming majority of the international community recognises that the JCPA makes a tangible contribution to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime and the maintenance of peace and security. The real achievement of multilateral diplomacy, which resulted from efforts undertaken not only by the parties to the agreement but also by many other cooperative countries, including Kazakhstan, should not be renounced to accommodate the current political demand in certain countries.

It is clear that the JCPA’s collapse, the more so through the fault of one of the P5+1members, will be an alarm signal to the entire international security architecture, including prospects for solving the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula. We reaffirm the urgency of the roadmap proposed by Russia and China for the purpose of solving this problem solely by peaceful means.

The mounting threat of “chemical” terrorism in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq and Syria, is evoking grave concern. The militants not only use toxic chemicals but also have technological and production capabilities of their own enabling them to synthesise full-fledged combat chemical agents. They have also established ramified channels to access their precursors.

One must not overlook the quite real risks of “chemical” terrorism spreading beyond the Middle East, given the quite sizeable segment of foreign militants among the extremists. Terrorists, who came to Syria and Iraq from abroad, have been given an opportunity to acquire an expertise in making and using chemical weapons.

During the last three years, we have repeatedly urged the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution or at least a statement by its president with a denunciation of concrete acts of “chemical” terrorism in Syria and Iraq. Regrettably, all our proposals invariably met with stiff resistance put up by a number of our Western colleagues, who prefer to close their eyes to the facts of terrorists using or even manufacturing chemical weapons and who would put forward unfounded charges against Damascus.

We think it unacceptable to speculate on the aims of fighting MDW proliferation to achieve narrowly self-serving geopolitical objectives, as was the case with the invasion in Iraq under an absolutely far-fetched pretext 15 years ago.

In recent times, we have witnessed persistent attempts to manipulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the now terminated Joint Investigative Mechanism. We deem it deplorable. We reiterate our proposal on forming a new mechanism to investigate cases of chemical weapons employment in Syria based on the principles that would be fully in keeping with the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

We also call on all states to honour commitments following from the 2004 UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which prescribes all countries to take effective measures with the aim of preventing non-state entities, including terrorists, from acquiring MDW or any material related thereto. The urgency of Resolution 1540 was reaffirmed by the Security Council following an inclusive review of its implementation in 2016. The Security Council should react strongly to any breaches of Resolution 1540 requirements, be it in Syria, Iraq or anywhere else, particularly to facts of providing any kind of  assistance to non-state entities in getting access to MDW. 

Russia supports the efforts to create and strengthen national, regional and subregional capabilities for achieving these goals. We recently hosted a Training Course for Resolution 1540 National Points of Contact in Kaliningrad, which was supported by the OSCE and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. As part of our chairmanship of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) in 2017, we organised a special meeting on this issue.

We also welcome the consensus decision taken by the OPCW Executive Council in October 2017 to prevent the threat of chemical attacks by non-state actors. We regard this decision as a step in the right direction.

Seeking to enhance the efficiency of multilateral cooperation to prevent WMD proliferation and their falling into the hands of terrorist groups and other non-state actors, Russia has proposed drafting a new legally binding document, The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism. We have submitted the draft of this convention to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. We call for starting the talks to coordinate this draft as soon as possible.

Mr President of the Security Council,

Mr President of Kazakhstan,

Mr Secretary-General,

Considering the current situation with non-proliferation and disarmament, the international community must look for ways to overcome the growing differences while seeking to preserve effective cooperation mechanisms and strengthen the international legal framework of this cooperation based on respect for the interests of all states.

We hope that today’s meeting of the UN Security Council, as well as the initiative advanced by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, will facilitate the achievement of these goals.

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