Statement by Deputy Head of delegation of the Russian Federation K.Vorontsov in the First Committee of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly at the Thematic Debate on “Nuclear Weapons”
The nuclear disarmament issues are in the centre of the international agenda. Despite theobvious progress in strategic arms reduction, there are claims that the nuclear powers should make more far-reaching steps in eliminating nuclear weapons.
We understand the views of those who advocate for an immediate and unconditional abolition of nuclear weapons. We share the noble goal of achieving a nuclear-free world. At the same time, attempts to impose on the states that possess nuclear weapons a complete and unconditional elimination of their arsenals are hardly practicable without taking into account current strategic realities and legitimate security interests. For these reasons, we consider the adoption of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as misguided and counter-productive in its essence. It only aggravates the situation provoking deep divisions in the international community and undermining the foundations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Tangible progress in nuclear disarmament can only be achieved based on consensus, respecting the course towards calibrated and phased reductions in the context of Article VI of the NPT and taking into account the imperative of maintaining strategic balance on the basis of principle of indivisible security.
Conscious of its special responsibility as a nuclear power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council for the observance of obligations under Article VI of the NPT, the Russian Federation fully complies with the existing agreements in this area. Our efforts towards actual nuclear arms reductions in line with our arrangements with the United States are well known. We continue to meet our obligations under the 2010 New START Treaty. By the Treaty deadline (which is February 5, 2018) we reduced our arsenals below the limits set by New START.
We positively note the Agreement with the United States reached on January 26, 2021 to extent the New START until February 5, 2026. Thus we secured an adequate level of mutual transparency in relation to strategic offensive weapons covered by the Treaty. We intend to use this timeframe for talks with the United States on the future arms control taking into account all factors that impact strategic stability, including offensive and defensive arms, both nuclear and non-nuclear, capable of performing strategic tasks.
By agreement of the Presidents of Russia and the United States at the summit in Geneva on June 16, an integrated dialogue on strategic stability began. Two rounds took place so far. The business-like atmosphere of the meetings gives rise to cautious optimism that the Parties will be able to creatively work on finding common ground in order to bring their positions closer taking into account each other's interests.
We are fully aware of the difficulty and scale of the challenges we face. Thus, the United States’ withdrawal from the INF Treaty on August 2, 2019 nullified international legal prohibitions on deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range land-based missiles. In order to prevent a new disastrous arms race in nuclear-missile area, the Russian Federation unilaterally took over the initiative of no first placement of systems previously prohibited by the INF Treaty in those regions where such American-made systems would not be deployed. We urge the United States and its allies to make similar commitments. But the cart is still upon the self-same spot.
What is more, on October 26, 2020, President Vladimir Putin in his Statement on additional steps to de-escalate the situation in Europe after the termination of the INF Treaty, building up on the initiative on mutual moratoria invited all the parties concerned to consider specific options of reciprocal verification measures to remove existing concerns. Our proposals remain in force. We call to look at them in the most attentive way.
With all responsibility we assure that Russia has never possessed intermediate- or shorter-range land-based missiles. To state the opposite is to paint a false picture and cover up for those who are responsible for the breakdown of the INF Treaty.
Let me give another example. The Russian Federation has four-fold reduced the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW) from the numbers that the Soviet Union had in 1991. All NSNW have been transferred to the category of non-deployed, located within the national territory and concentrated in centralized storage facilities, where a maximum-level security is assured, preventing any accidental or unauthorized use of the nuclear weapons. Control over Russia’s NSNW is not transferred to any other states either directly or indirectly, and its use is not being practiced during the activities of the general-purpose forces.
By contrast, US nuclear weapons, remain within the territories of non-nuclear European states. Their use is practiced by NATO at the European theatre with the involvement of non-nuclear states. It is imperative that such practice contrary to the NPT is stopped immediately. Nuclear weapons should be returned to the national territory of the owner state, and the infrastructure in Europe should be dismantled.
The Russian Federation has consistently advocated the recommitment by all nuclear powers to the fundamental formula that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Important first steps have already been taken. The mentioned principle was confirmed in the Joint statement by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden of June 16, 2021. Russia and China included it in the Joint statement of June 29 on the twentieth anniversary of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between our countries. We urge remaining nuclear-weapon States to follow suit. The main task is to prevent the tragedy of 1945, when the United States used nuclear weapons against Japanese cities, from happening again.
We are open to any constructive ideas regarding multilateral negotiating formats on prevention of an arms race and strengthening of international security and stability, which should be pursued based on consensus and with due regard to the legitimate interests of their participants. Attempts to "compel" anyone to participate in such discussions are counterproductive.
The Russian Federation sees the NPT as one of the foundations of today’s world order. The fact that the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference agreed to indefinitely extend the Treatyproves its effectiveness. We attach great importance to the successful functioning of all three NPT pillars: non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
In recent years, the NPT regime has been facing significant challenges. As the established system of arms control agreements has broken down, controversies between States Parties regarding the implementation of the Treaty have been growing. We hope that at the forthcoming 10th Review Conference as a result of joint efforts we will be able to break the "vicious circle" of accumulated mutual accusations and contradictions and reach generally acceptable solutions that will strengthen the NPT regime.
As one of the initiators and depository states of the NPT, we reiterate the need to implement the 1995 Conference’s decision to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery (WMDFZ). Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, as co-sponsors of the Conference resolution on this issue, bear special responsibility for its implementation.
The first session of the WMDFZ Conference held in November 2019 had demonstrated the participants’ willingness to seek solutions through compromise. In this regard, we call on the United States to join the second session. We consider Israel's participation in the discussions to be important.
We support the work of the IAEA as the verification mechanism for the NPT. We encouragethe universalization of the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement as an entirely voluntary measure. However, we note that the safeguards system should remain technically sound, non-politicized and unbiased.
The Russian Federation sees the CTBT as an essential instrument in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and strictly abides by its provisions. This year marks the 25th anniversary of opening for signature of the Treaty. However, the CTBT has not entered into force due to the position of eight Annex 2 states whose ratification is necessary for it to become a valid international legal instrument. We urge all those countries to ratify the Treaty without further delay.
We look forward to a constructive and engaging dialogue on the full range of nuclear disarmament issues, aimed at achieving mutually acceptable outcome that is based on a balance of interests. The Russian delegation stands ready for such cooperation.