Statement by the Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation, Director of the Foreign Ministry Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Ermakov at the General Debate in the First Committee of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly
First of all, I would like to congratulate you with the election to such a high position in the UN anniversary benchmark year.
We wish you success in organizing the work of the current difficult in every respect session of the UN GA First Committee when we all have to work in extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and related unprecedented restrictions on the activities of the delegations at the UN Headquarters.
You can rely on constructive cooperation of the Russian Federation.
We propose to consolidate joint efforts not to let the global disaster, which the humanity has faced, to divide us but, on the contrary, to promt us to find mutually acceptable ways to reduce international tensions and prevent exacerbation of existing threats and challenges and emergence of new ones. It is important to overcome the deficit of trust accumulated in recent years and increased risks of the destabilizing arms race as well as uncontrolled drift toward a dangerous military confrontation in various parts of the world. There is a need to reverse deliberate destructive actions, based on foreign policy egocentrism of one State to dismantle the carefully constructed system of international agreements. This system has become our common achievement and has been a reliable guarantee of peace and international security for many decades.
The most recent negative development, which undermines the regional security, was the US decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty under the false pretext of Russia's alleged “violations” of the Treaty. We explore all possible options of the evolving situation. Our future policy will depend on actions of our partners.
Nobody can neglect the consecutive steps taken by the US and its allies to toughen their defense and security doctrines and make them more aggressive. The role of nuclear arms is being increased while the threshold for their use is being lowered as well as relevant weapons programs are being developed and implemented. A new hardline competitive approach is being actively imposed, which only aggravates the atmosphere of distrust and reduces the predictability, including in the nuclear missile sphere.
Unlike the United States, the Russian Federation is well aware of its responsibility for international security, global and regional stability. Our policy for preserving the peace is consistent. We believe that pursuit of confrontational models aimed at transforming the international relations to suit the spirit of “great power competition” and “peace through strength” concepts should be stopped. In our work, we act openly. We consistently promote political and diplomatic initiatives and implement measures with a view to prevent the deterioration of the situation in the area of security and stability and to preserve and strengthen the arms control architecture.
The most pressing objectives in this field include the extension of the Russia-US New START Treaty. We are ready to extend the Treaty without preconditions and invite the US to do it without artificial delays. The extension would be a reasonable step, which would buy us time to consider future approaches to arms control.
After the United States destroyed the INF Treaty, Russia made a unilateral commitment not to deploy intermediate- and shorter-range ground-launched missiles in those regions of the world until similar US-manufactured systems are deployed there. We call on all members of the international community to support our efforts to prevent the deployment of new missiles in various regions of the world and follow a constructive and balanced policy aimed at strengthening international security and stability.
Nuclear disarmament remains as one of the priorities of the international agenda. We are committed to the ultimate goal of building a world free from nuclear weapons and make a significant practical contribution to achieving it. No doubt, nuclear disarmament can be reached only through step-by-step approach and based on the principle of equal and indivisible security for all, taking into account all factors affecting the strategic stability. They include the unconstrained deployment of the US global missile defense, development of high-precision strategic non-nuclear offensive weapons, lowering of the nuclear threshold in doctrines with parallel increase of the low-yield nuclear-weapon stockpiles, the prospective deployment of strike weapons in outer space, absence of mutually acceptable universal instruments to manage imbalances in conventional weapons and attempts to reduce the defensive potential of other countries using illegitimate methods of unilateral pressure bypassing the UN SC.
The international community should pay the most serious attention to those problems. Without solving them it is impossible to achieve the level of international security conducive to further steps in nuclear disarmament.
It is time to seriously reflect on how to make the nuclear disarmament process multilateral. Such a dialogue should involve all States with nuclear military capabilities. There is a need for a consensus approach without any enforcement. Other imperatives are equality and mutual consideration of the interests of all parties involved.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the NPT – key international legally-binding instrument in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and a pillar of today’s world order.
All NPT State Parties need to do their utmost for the forthcoming Review Conference to contribute to strengthening of the Treaty and not to increasing tensions within its framework.
We note the central role of the IAEA as an international organization that has the mandate and competence to verify compliance with non-proliferation obligations under the NPT via application of safeguards and contributing to the exercise of the rights of States to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Russia attaches great importance to creating nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) in the world and provides security assurances to States that concluded NWFZ agreements and adhere to the letter and spirit of these agreements. We support the early resolution of the issue of the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMDFZ) in the Middle East as stipulated by the resolution of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.
We reaffirm our commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to address the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. Unfortunately, this achievement shared by all countries was put at risk by the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. Irresponsible and false are the US statements about the actual “snapback” of the earlier lifted UN SC sanctions against Iran. As is known, the rest UN SC members rejected the illegitimate claims of the US side. The policy of “maximum pressure” has failed.
Russia has consistently supported the earliest entry into force of the CTBT and strict compliance by all the State Parties with the main obligations under the Treaty.
We fully support the international regime banning chemical, biological and toxin weapons, consistently advocate its universalization and strengthening.
Of serious concern is the totally unacceptable situation in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The desire of certain States to make the work of this once-successful multilateral structure serve their geopolitical interests led to the OPCW being literally split.
We consider the strengthening of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) regime as a priority objective for the international community. We stand for the resumption of the work on a legally binding protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism and establishment in that regard of an open-ended working group. We urge support for Russia's initiatives, which are aimed at consolidating institutional foundations of the BTWC, on creation in the framework of the Convention of mobile biomedical units and a scientific advisory committee, and on upgrading of confidence-building measures. We will work toward the adoption of relevant decisions at the forthcoming 2021 BTWC Review Conference.
We highlight the need for updating the principles and procedures of the UN Secretary General mechanism for investigation of the alleged use of chemical and biological weapons that has not been done since their approval in 1990. To that end, we intend to submit a relevant draft resolution for consideration. We expect your support and co-sponsorship.
The actions aimed at ensuring “dominance, military superiority up to the total supremacy in outer space” are extremely destructive. In accordance with the U.S. doctrines, some other Western countries and NATO as a whole, increasingly consider outer space as an arena for combat operations, including offensive ones. At the same time, the mentioned group of countries cynically attempts, here, at the UN, to initiate debate about some “responsible behavior” in outer space. We should not fall for such tricks.
Against that background, the U.S. continues to block negotiations on a legally binding treaty on prevention of an arms race in outer space. Another illustration of cynicism is the fact that above mentioned intentions to conduct combat operations in outer space, including those of offensive nature, are presented as allegedly in consistence with international law, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, governing the peaceful uses of space. To legitimize hostilities in outer space, a proposal to focus on development of some standards of behavior subjected to serve priorities that are unacceptable for us has been put forward.
To prevent the arms race in outer space we need to conclude a relevant legally binding instrument with participation of all space-faring nations. It should provide for a ban on placement of weapons in outer space and use of force or threat of force against outer space objects. An important step to that end is international initiative/political obligation of no first placement of weapons in outer space. We submit for the consideration of the First Committee draft resolutions “No first placement of weapons in outer space” and “Transparency and confidence building measures in space activities”. We expect support and co-sponsorship.
International information security (IIS) ensuring is a priority of our diplomatic activity in the UN. In 2018, owing to common efforts the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) – the first inclusive, genuinely democratic and transparent negotiation mechanism – was established under the auspices of the Organization. As the mandate of the current Group expires in March 2021, our key objective is to preserve this discussion format and ensure continuity of the IIS negotiation process within the UN. In this regard, we intend to submit for consideration of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly Russia's updated traditional draft resolution on IIS, providing for convening a new OEWG in 2021 for a period of five years, with its mandate unchanged. We call on all UN Member States to support our initiative and become its co-sponsors.
There is a growing need to consolidate the international community on a basis of a creative and constructive agenda that will contribute to better sustainability of the current arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation system.
This objective would be achieved through strengthening of the existing and development by consensus of new treaty regimes in the sphere of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. We submit for the consideration of the First Committee a draft resolution “Strengthening and development of a system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements”. Its adoption would be an important contribution to the creation of conditions for successful conduct of a number of significant events in 2021 – the NPT, the BTWC and the CCW review conferences and the extension of the New START Treaty. We await for overall support and co-sponsorship.
We believe that the UN and its multilateral disarmament machinery should play a pivotal role in strengthening the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation agreements. Recently, some negative trends that affect the UN disarmament triad effectiveness have been taking shape. The 74th session of the UN GA demonstrated the higher politicization of discussions on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, drifting away from a meaningful dialogue as well as the attempts of Western countries headed by the United States to transform the UN venue into a tool to exert pressure on “undesirable” States.
Then, for the first time in many years, the United States introduced an ideological element into the work of the First Committee by dividing the UN Member States into “democratic”, allegedly strengthening the arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation system, and “autocratic”, which allegedly intend to dismantle it. We consider it to be a very dangerous step with a view to disunite the world community and distract its attention from real international security issues caused by the US irresponsible actions.
Additional destructive factor in the context of the First Committee and the UNDC is the unlawful actions of the U.S. authorities that refuse to issue visas to the leading experts of the Russian delegation. Washington blatantly violates its obligations under the 1947 UN Headquarters Agreement and ignores a number of key provisions of UNGA resolution A/RES/74/195. “Visa mayhem” unleashed by Washington led to the UNDC work being paralyzed for the second consecutive year. We call on the United States to show responsibility and take measures to resolve the situation with a view to comply with its obligations in ensuring unhindered and nondiscriminatory access for representative of the Member States to the UN Headquarters.
Continued degradation of the situation in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation urges joint actions of all States realizing their responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. For our part, we will continue efforts for greater effectiveness and coherence of activities of the First Committee, UNDC and Conference on Disarmament (CD). To that end, it is necessary to resume the substantive dialogue on the most important agenda issues and depoliticize the discussion.
In this regard, we recall our constructive initiative presented at the CD in March 2016 to overcome a 20-year-old standstill in the negotiation work of the Conference. It is necessary to start without delay the elaboration of an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism. It would help re-launch the negotiation process in the CD in accordance with its mandate.
In general, it would be very useful for all of us to recall, in the year of the UN’s 75th anniversary, life-affirming origins of our global Organization, refrain from confrontational approaches and return to productive equitable cooperation on the entire range of issues of international peace and security ensuring.
Russia proposes a constructive unifying agenda. We expect support of all States.