Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr.Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

We welcome you, Mr. President, in your capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004). We listened with great interest to your statement and the briefings by Ms. Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Mr. Ballard, representing the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We are also grateful to the Bolivian chairship of the Committee for its responsible and professional leadership of that subsidiary body of the Council.

Resolution 1540 (2004), initiated jointly by Russia and the United States in 2004, is one of the pillars of non-proliferation. Ensuring that every country can fully implement it is one of the international community’s pressing tasks, and it is our hope that today’s debate will be a major contribution to tackling that global challenge. Resolution 1540 (2004) remains the sole universal international document on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), obliging all countries to establish effective national systems for controlling WMDs, their delivery systems and related materials, and preventing them from falling into the hands of non-State actors.

That goal has taken on major significance in the wake of the unprecedentedly complex and numerous regional conflicts taking place in the world today. The terror organizations involved in them have access to the technology and infrastructure needed to develop and use chemical weapons. We agree with Mr. Ballard that this is no longer a mere threat but a harsh reality. The events in the Middle East are a clear example of that, and serve to emphasize the relevance of our meeting today. The threat of chemical and biological terrorism is becoming ever greater in scale and in its transborder nature. We have heard again and again about militants from the Islamic State and other groups using industrial chemicals, and even chemical warfare substances, for terrorist purposes, facts that have been confirmed — even officially confirmed — by the Western intelligence community. With regard to such crimes, we would in particular like to emphasize that we must realize that, over the past five or six years, extremist organizations have gained considerable experience not just in using chemical weapons but in manufacturing them. The proliferation of that knowledge is as much of a threat as is the use of such WMDs.

We support strengthening the counter-terrorist aspects of non-proliferation. We understand how urgent it is to find responses to new challenges and threats. In the light of the current terrorist activities in Syria and Iraq by the so-called Islamic State, the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups, the significance of resolution 1540 (2004) can only grow. The Council should thoroughly investigate and respond to any reports that non-State actors may have gained access to chemical weapons, with an objective, impartial and professional investigation with no potential for politicization. The process should be based on credible and verifiable facts and should avoid any potential for deliberate disinformation. We need to see a tough reaction from the Council to any violations of the resolution. Any assistance to non-State actors in acquiring WMDs or the materials, components and technologies used in their production is impermissible. Only collaborative efforts on the part of all Member States to implement the provisions of resolution 1540 (2004) can ensure S/PV.7985 Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction 28/06/2017 12/33 17-18622 successful results. We support the appeals that Ms. Nakamitsu made on the subject in her briefing.

The issue of combating terrorist attacks is so acute that the machinery designed to enable resolution 1540 (2004) to carry out its vital function is not enough. We would therefore like to remind the Council of Russia’s initiative concerning the drafting of an international convention on the fight against acts of chemical or biological terrorism. Such a convention could cover the advances that the international community has approved in recent years, particularly through provisions criminalizing activities falling within its purview, defining jurisdictions and appropriate levels of legal response, implementing the principle of extradite-orprosecute, and so forth. It is clear that traditional views of what constitutes arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are gradually blurring. Effectively, the entire area has acquired a new element and another dimension — the counter-terrorism dimension. The so-called Islamic State’s acquisition of the industrial capacity to produce chemical weapons and the danger of their proliferation throughout the Middle East serve to emphasize the relevance of Russia’s efforts to formulate the such a convention.

We believe that we should work actively to define the national and regional components for implementing resolution 1540 (2004). We should study best practices and conduct seminars for points of contact, because their benefits are clear. A number of Member States, including Russia, have already commended the seminars that have been held for national points of contact, and we welcome the intention of the People’s Republic of China to organize a similar event in August.

In order to improve the effectiveness of the Committee’s work, we should draw on the capacities of international and regional organizations and ensure that their planned tasks conform with States’ requests. We also support the involvement of the scientific and business communities. Needless to say, all of this should take place under the leadership and oversight of State entities. Russia is committed to strengthening the non-proliferation regime, including within the framework of the 1540 Committee, and will make every possible effort to deal with this challenge.

With regard to the statement by the representative of the United States, I would like to point out that Syria’s armed forces pose no threat to the American specialists. We have no information about anything like that, whatever the reports may be. However, we once again affirm our position that Russia will continue to insist on a comprehensive, professional and politically impartial investigation of chemical attacks — not just in Khan Shaykhun but also with regard to any other occurrence, or recurrence, of chemical terrorism in Syria and Iraq — as provided for in resolution 2319 (2016).

With regard to extending the mandate of the OPCWUnited Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism for another year, its geographic scope and counter-terrorism dimension must be expanded. An objective investigation is the only way to get to the truth — not based on the fabrications of terrorists, extremists, opposition members, their foreign sympathizers and sponsors and non-governmental organizations and all their efforts to blame Damascus. For now, it is important that we avoid any provocation and prevent any unilateral acts, and that we support the significant political momentum that the discussions in Astana and the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva represent.