Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Konstantin Vorontsov, Head of the Russian Delegation, at the general debate of the session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission

Mr. Chair,

I would like to congratulate you on your election to this responsible position and express our hope that under your leadership we can keep the positive dynamics of the work of the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) and gain success in fulfilling the tasks it is entrusted with. The Russian delegation is ready to extend every support in this regard.

Russia is consistently committed to strengthening the central role of the United Nations in the area of international security and fostering arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation (ACNPD) regimes. We firmly believe that our priority is to comprehensively strengthen the UN disarmament machinery with the UNDC being its integral part.

We do not believe it possible to consider the topic of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation outside the context of current realities in the field of strategic stability. In the pursuit of the global dominance and military superiority, Washington and its allies are expanding the network of alliances directed against third countries and actively implementing a number of programmes that undermine global stability and regional security. The most acute threat is the destructive United States’ and NATO’s policy of escalation of the Ukrainian crisis in order to inflict “strategic defeat” on Russia, which is fraught with a direct military clash of nuclear powers. Such policy totally contradicts the logic that is enshrined in the joint statement of the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states dated 3 January 2022 and provides for the need to avoid any military confrontation between nuclear-weapon states as well as show in practice mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests. It was the actions of the West, contrary to these principles, that led to the aggravation of the conflict around Ukraine.

Against this background, Washington’s line on arms control is doubly hypocritical. Numerous steps by the United States to dismantle the agreements that are inconvenient to Washington are accompanied by the cynical attempts to promote the initiatives that are gainful only to the American side and are aimed at creating unilateral advantages for it. Washington’s appeals to engage in minimizing strategic risks are also inadequate whilst, in fact, the United States continues to purposefully generate those risks through provocations and pressure on other countries. It is only interested in how to make such pressure as safe as possible for itself.

To prevent further degradation of the situation and maintain the long-term stability, systemic and comprehensive efforts are needed to build an updated and stress-proof architecture of international security based on the universal principles of multilateralism, true equality and taking into account core interests of all parties. A decisive role in finding ways to bring the arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation system out of the crisis is assigned to the United Nations disarmament mechanism.

Mr. Chair,

Russia has always been in favour of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The long history of the successful functioning of the NPT is evidence of its relevance to all States Parties, both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. They should all contribute equally to the overall reduction of international tensions, the strengthening of stability and the establishment of a realistic global disarmament agenda in accordance with the mutually agreed goals set out in Article VI of the NPT.

It is obvious that nuclear disarmament cannot be considered in isolation from the current international situation. We see no prospects for approaches that suggest a "shortcut" to a nuclear-free world by outlawing nuclear weapons. We cannot agree with calls for the nuclear Powers to immediately and unconditionally renounce their respective arsenals without taking into account their legitimate security interests, which contradicts the principle of undiminished security, as enshrined in the consensus documents of the NPT review process.

In 2023, a new NPT review cycle has started. We hope that States Parties will be committed to preserving the Treaty. The main threat to the NPT now is that Western countries are using the Treaty to pursue their own political agendas that have nothing to do with nuclear non-proliferation. If this continues, there is a high risk that the outcome of the current review cycle will be similar to the previous two. In order to prevent this from happening, States Parties, particularly those in the Western bloc, need to reconsider their largely inflated demands and expectations and be prepared to engage more openly and respectfully in future events, the next of which will take place in Geneva.

Russia, as an observer, makes a significant contribution to the work of the annual United Nations Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction (MEWMDFZ). The four sessions that have already taken place convincingly prove that with the launch of this format there is an additional opportunity to move the issue of the MEWMDFZ forward.

The situation around the CTBT leaves much to be desired. The US, which was the main initiator of the Treaty, has not made a single significant step to ratify it since 1999. At the same time, Washington continues to keep its Nevada test site on standby, without giving up the idea of conducting a full-scale nuclear test as part of the modernisation of its arsenal.

We are tired of waiting for the United States to fulfil its promises and ratify the CTBT. We regard the references by US politicians and diplomats to the alleged impossibility of passing the relevant decision through the US Congress as excuses. It was Washington's irresponsible attitude towards the CTBT that prompted us to revoke its ratification. At the same time, Russia remains a signatory State to the Treaty, with all the rights and obligations that this entails, and continues to participate fully in the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organisation. Our country continues to observe the national moratorium on nuclear testing that was introduced back in 1992. Russia's commitment to the CTBT is illustrated by the completion in December 2023 of the construction of our segment of the International Monitoring System, a key element of the Treaty's verification mechanism.

Mr. Chair,

Russia welcomes the readiness of Member States to start discussions within the UNDC framework on new technologies in the context of international security. We attach particular importance to the tracking of scientific and technological developments relevant to the ACNPD, based on their dual nature. On the one hand, it is necessary to identify and analyse the risks associated with different research areas and technologies in order to reduce such risks to an acceptable level without compromising scientific and technological progress. On the other hand, there is a need to raise awareness and promote the sharing of knowledge and advances that can help to strengthen international security.

We believe that the forthcoming discussion on this subject in the UNDC should not duplicate the discussion of issues related to new technologies, which is already taking place in parallel dialogue formats. In particular, we consider the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on International Information Security (IIS), established on our initiative and operating under the auspices of the First Committee of the UNGA, to be the only relevant negotiating mechanism. This understanding is enshrined in the consensus recommendations of the OEWG and in annual UNGA resolutions on IIS.

We consider the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to be the optimal format for discussing Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS). It would be counterproductive to transfer this topic to any other international platform, including the UNDC and the United Nations as a whole. We believe that the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space requires further discussion within the framework of the relevant GGEs and OEWGs, and the problem of biotechnology and the establishment within the framework of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of a mechanism for reviewing relevant scientific and technological achievements – in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Strengthening the BTWC.

Mr. Chair,

We are convinced that the UN Disarmament Commission is capable of making a significant contribution to multilateral efforts in the area of disarmament and arms control, in accordance with its mandate. We count on the preparation of recommendations within I and II Working Groups.

We believe that with the political will, the members of the UN Disarmament Commission can overcome any differences, engage actively in constructive work on the agenda and achieve effective consensus outcomes.

Thank you for your attention.