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Conference Adopts Report of the Working Group on the Way Ahead

29 August 2017

A public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament this morning heard many States strongly condemn the latest ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Conference also adopted the report of the Working Group on the way ahead. 

Ambassador Julio Herraiz of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, and a number of speakers welcomed this year’s disarmament fellows who were attending the meeting.

The Conference heard statements by Cuba, India, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Estonia, Germany, Republic of Korea, Australia, Kazakhstan, United States, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Peru, Netherlands, Austria, Ukraine, Colombia and Russia.

The next plenary will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 August.  Statements PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA, the new Permanent Representative of Cuba to the Conference on Disarmament, said 72 years after the monstrous attack against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the danger of nuclear weapons was still pending, and was very much a threat to the destruction of the human race.  Given the complex international scenario at the moment, the vast majority of the international community supported the adoption of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons, which was the outcome of broad multilateral discussions.  This was a ground-breaking agreement and a milestone in the history of the United Nations towards general comprehensive disarmament.  The Treaty prohibited nuclear weapons in all circumstances and also prohibited the threat of their use.  Nuclear weapons were now illegal and the world now had a legally binding framework for the total elimination and destruction of nuclear weapons in a form that was transparent, irreversible and verifiable, and with a specific timeframe.  It also overcame the limited scope of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which only prohibited testing of nuclear weapons through explosions.  Now all kinds of testing were prohibited. Cuba urged all nations to become a party to the treaty to ensure that it entered into force as soon as possible.  Nuclear disarmament was and must continue to be the highest priority in the disarmament sector. 

The gridlock of the Conference on Disarmament which had lasted for 21 years threatened its very existence.  The Conference was a negotiating body, not just one for deliberation.  Cuba was open to improving the methods of work of the Conference, but changing the methods of work and rules of procedure were not the essential part in pressing ahead with negotiations.  The situation in the Conference was the result of the lack of political will of some of its members that wanted to abide by the status quo because of their national interests.  The adoption without further ado of a balanced comprehensive programme of work must take into account the considerations and interests of States when it came to disarmament, especially the priority of nuclear disarmament.  The Conference was ready and willing to negotiate various items on its agenda at the same time.  Cuba was not against beginning negotiations on a treaty that was non-discriminatory, multilateral and effectively verifiable which prohibited the production of all fissile material for military use and also envisaged the declaration of the existence of all fissile material and its elimination in an irreversible form within a timetable.  The prevention of an arms race in outer space was also a priority.  It was the legitimate interest of non-nuclear weapon States that nuclear weapon States give unequivocal guarantees that they would not use or threaten the use of these weapons.  Cuba hoped that the outcome of the Working Group on the way ahead would lead to a programme of work with a negotiating mandate at the beginning of the next session of the Conference on Disarmament in 2018.

Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said the secretariat had already circulated a compilation of all comments on the draft annual report that were received by Friday, 25 August.  The Conference also had before it the report of the Working Group on the way ahead.  The content of the report had been discussed at length in the Working Group. 

India referred to a spelling mistake in the report.

Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said as there was no objection to the report of the Working Group on the way ahead, the Conference would take action and adopt the report.  It was so adopted.  After hearing statements this morning, the Conference would meet in private to adopt discuss its draft annual report to the General Assembly.

Belarus said it believed that the main priority issues for the Conference were the four main agenda items on the agenda of the Conference.  Having the Conference start working on other issues would only be possible after the main issues were resolved.  Nevertheless, the results of the discussions on agenda items five, six and seven by the Working Group on the way ahead had demonstrated the fact that many delegations were interested in the consideration of questions that were related to new challenges and threats like cyber weapons and laws, weaponization of artificial intelligence and preventing terrorist groups from getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction.  Belarus regretted that the Conference was unable to reach consensus on a thematic consideration of these issues during a separate formal and informal meeting.  He invited Dr. Pavel Podvig from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy to share with the Conference their views on how scientific progress influenced strategic stability.

Dr. PAVEL PODVIG spoke about improved and advanced delivery systems and nuclear disarmament.  Strictly speaking, these systems were not weapons of mass destruction, however, this subject was extremely relevant toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.  One particular issue he drew attention to was hypersonic weapons or hypersonic gliders. 

Dr. Jean-MARC RICKLI spoke about the impact that the weaponization of artificial intelligence had on strategic stability.  The topic of international security and autonomous weapons was very broad but he would limit it to the potential impact of these weapons on strategic stability.

Belarus said the issues reflected in the Conference’s agenda items five, six and seven were becoming increasingly timelier.  Belarus wished to draw the attention of the international community to this issue and carry out further discussions both within the Conference and outside it on the possible threats, legal gaps and ways to react to this situation in order to improve the internationally accepted procedures that made it possible to monitor the situation related to the development of new types of weapons of mass destruction, that would create conditions for the development of specific recommendations on the types of weapons of mass destruction that may be developed in the future.  Belarus every three years introduced a draft resolution on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons on mass destruction, new systems of such weapons, report of the Conference on Disarmament.  Belarus had decided to introduce another draft before the First Committee in the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.  The draft was available. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula was the product of the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the United States towards the “DPRK”.  The long-standing hostile policy of the United States and its ever-increasing nuclear threats against the “DPRK” had compelled the country to take no other option but to possess nuclear deterrence and further strengthen them in order to cope with such a serious threat.  The “DPRK’s” access to powerful nuclear deterrence was a justifiable and legitimate measure for self-defence, to protect the country’s sovereignty and the right to existence from the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the United States towards the “DPRK” for over half a century.  It was an undeniable fact that the United States was driving the situation in the Korean peninsula towards an extreme level of explosion by deploying huge strategic assets around the peninsula to conduct a series of nuclear war drills and maintaining nuclear threat and blackmail for over half a century. 

The joint military exercises conducted in “South Korea” every year were provocative and aggressive in nature, endangered the regional security and global peace, and had the potential risk of sparking off a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.  The on-going United States-“South Korea” joint military exercise, amid growing tension on the Korean peninsula and in disregard of strong warnings from the “DPRK”, was indeed nothing short of a fanatic act of adding fuel to flame.  Though the United States and “South Korea” were trying to portray the military exercise as an annual event, it was preparation of war to mount a pre-emptive attack on the “DPRK”.  In March this year, “DPRK” urged the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the United States-“South Korean” joint military drills.  How had the Security Council, while taking on the issue with “DPRK’s” self-defensive measures, turned away from their call for an emergency meeting?  Should the Security Council ignore the request from the “DPRK” again, it would be more evident that the Security Council had ceased to be a body that assumed the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, but reduced into a political instrument of the United States.

Japan said only 12 hours ago, “DPRK” launched another missile that flew over northern Japan, approximately 2,700 kilometres in total distance before landing in the Pacific Ocean.  This was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and came in defiance of the strong request of the international community to stop provocations, including the launches of ballistic missiles.  Japan recognized that this was an unprecedentedly serious and grave threat to the Japanese people and for their national security.  It was also an extremely dangerous act, particularly to ensure the safety of Japanese navigation and aviation.  This was unacceptable and Japan again condemned the “DPRK” in the strongest terms.  Japan continued to strengthen its coordinated efforts, including convening United Nations Security Council meetings on this matter.  Japan strongly called on the international community to unite to ensure the sustained, comprehensive, thorough and effective implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  Japan believed that continued attention and discussion on this matter would be needed and it would help the Conference act much livelier. 

Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a number of ballistic missiles on 26 August and on 29 August.  The European Union strongly condemned these actions which violated “DPRK’s” obligations under multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and posed a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.  The “DPRK” must immediately halt all launches using ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the United Nations Security Council.  The European Union urged the “DPRK” to refrain from any further provocative action that could increase regional and global tensions and to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community aimed at pursuing the complete, verifiable and irreversible de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula through peaceful means.  The European Union was ready to support such a process in consultation with key partners.

Germany condemned in the strongest possible terms the latest missile test by the “DPRK” as an unacceptable act of aggression that violated existing United Nations Security Council resolutions and blatantly jeopardized security and peace in “North Korea’s” direct neighbours.  Germany stood next to the people and Government of Japan in unreserved solidarity and called on the international community to rigorously implement existing sanctions.

Republic of Korea wished to begin by asking everyone whether the propaganda that the representative of the “DPRK” referred to, and which was in fact an unacceptable term not to be used in this room, was being abused by “DPRK” on a daily basis.  This propaganda was not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes, but was only making their convictions stronger.  There was an omission from the statement of the “DPRK” that was much more resonant.  Early this morning, information reached them that residents in northern Japan had received an evacuation order because of a missile launch from Pyongyang.  The missile in fact flew over Japan and fell into the north Pacific.  The Republic of Korea condemned in the strongest possible concerns this further threat from the “DPRK” and that this activity was ongoing despite the condemnation of the international community.  The regime in the “DPRK” must clearly understand that de-nuclearlization was the only way forward to guarantee their security and economic viability, instead of continuing with their provocations, which were unacceptable.  The “DPRK’s” provocations would meet with a firm response by the Republic of Korea, working together with its firm alliances and with the international community as a whole.  The Republic of Korea was firmly prepared to respond to any form of threat from the “DPRK” in order to safeguard its own nation’s security and the lives of its people.

Australia strongly condemned the “DPRK’s” latest ballistic missile test, which flew over Japanese territory, causing an unacceptable threat to peace and stability in their region.  This morning’s test firing represented a serious escalation by Pyongyang.  It was a provocative and dangerous act by a dangerous regime.  Australia called on all countries to fully implement the existing United Nations Security Council resolutions to place pressure on Pyongyang to change its behaviour.  The joint exercises supported the legitimate defensive activity of the Republic of Korea and the United States and Australia participated in them.  It was “North Korea’s” persistent threats that continued to alarm and unite the international community against the regime.

Kazakhstan strongly condemned the irresponsible and dangerous ballistic missile launches of “North Korea” as such actions were in serious violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and posed a threat to peace.  They also destabilized the situation in northeast Asia as well as globally.  The irresponsible policy of the “DPRK” negatively affected the global process of nuclear non-proliferation and undermined their collective efforts to ensure a nuclear weapon free future. 

United States said it was taking the floor to respond to the representative of “North Korea”.  This was a regime that continued to violate countless Security Council resolutions.  It exhibited on a daily basis provocative and dangerous behaviour that threatened not only the Korean peninsula but also beyond.  The international community had been speaking very loudly and clearly about the need for “North Korea” to come into compliance with its obligations.  The United States was firmly committed to the defence of its allies.  It hoped that “North Korea” ended this provocative behaviour and resumed a willingness to engage on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

Italy joined previous delegations in reiterating with utmost determination Italy’s strong condemnation of the latest ballistic missile launch conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea last night, which represented a dangerous action, a growing matter of concern, and a further clear violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.  Italy reiterated that the “DPRK’s” missile and nuclear programmes represented a severe threat to the global non-proliferation regime as well as to international peace and security.  “DPRK” must immediately abandon all its existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

United Kingdom joined others in strongly condemning the latest illegal missile launch from the “DPRK”.  The United Kingdom was outraged at this reckless provocation.  It noted that the United Nations Security Council would meet this afternoon in an emergency session and that earlier this month the Council was able to further agree unanimously on a further package of sanctions on the “DPRK”, belying a suggestion that the Council was divided on dealing with this threat. 

Sweden said the launch of several ballistic missiles by the “DPRK” a few days ago, as well as a launch of a missile this morning that flew over the territory of Japan, were flagrant violations of several United Nations Security Council resolutions.  They were very likely to further increase tensions in the region.  Such actions constituted a threat to international peace and security.  “DPRK” should immediately abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile activities.  The best way forward was dialogue and negotiations. 

France strongly condemned the new missile launches carried out on 26 August and this morning by the “DPRK” which violated various United Nations Security Council resolutions and were an unacceptable threat to regional and international security.    France called on “North Korea” to comply with its international commitments.  France would continue to work very closely with the Security Council and its partners.

Peru condemned the “DPRK” for the new launch of the ballistic missiles that had flown over Japanese territory.  The situation was of real concern and was leading to a meeting at the Security Council today.  Peru asked all colleagues to express to Kim Jong-un their deepest concern as to what he was bringing about in the world. 

Netherlands totally condemned the recent missile launches by the “DPRK”.  Today’s launch was already the second in August and the third in the span of a month.  These launches and the nuclear tests carried out by the “DPRK” severely threatened peace and security in the region and the world and should stop immediately. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he had already clarified the “DPRK” position on the current situation on the Korean peninsula.  He did not think it was necessary to raise them again.  “DPRK” would continue to strengthen its defence capabilities as long as the United States maintained the nuclear race at the doorstep of “DPRK.”

Turkey condemned the recent ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions and to the further determent to the already tense situation in the region.  Turkey called on “DPRK” to abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions and to refrain from provocative actions that would lead to the added escalation in the region.

Republic of Korea, responding to the last words of the representative of “DPRK”, said that the launch of the ballistic missile over the territory of another country without warning and consultations was not an act of defence.  There was no justification.  Next time, maybe the “DPRK” should come to the Council with something reasonable to say. The Republic of Korea was conducting defensive actions and would not accept any other case of invasion of their territory.  

Austria condemned in the strongest possible terms the provocative actions of the “DPRK” sending a ballistic missile over the territory of Japan.  Austria condemned the persistent provocations of international law in the strongest possible terms.  Austria urged “DPRK” to immediately abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

Ukraine joined many delegations in expressing their concerns with regard to the new tests carried out by the “DPRK”.  Ukraine condemned the aggressive acts, adding that these irresponsible actions increased the risk of military conflict in the region of east Asia and threated international peace and security. 

Colombia said it was unfortunate to be taking the floor to join speakers who urged the “DPRK” to come back to a dialogue.  Colombia had on numerous occasions condemned the launch of missiles by “DPRK”.  This attitude was posing a challenge to the different resolutions of the Security Council. 

Russia said that on numerous occasions, Russia had expressed serious concern about the missile and nuclear launches and tests carried out by the “DPRK” and was concerned about the escalation of tensions in the Korean peninsula.  Russia urged all parties to show restraint and to refrain from any steps and actions that could lead to the exacerbation of tensions.  Russia was a traditional co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution on the banning of the development and creation of new types of weapons of mass destruction and intended to continue to support that resolution.    

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it was very surprising that some countries in the chamber only saw the “DPRK” self-defence measures as a threat to regional security, while they deliberately ignored the United States militarily provocative behaviour which was a major destabilizing factor for tension on the Korean peninsula.  Those countries, including the United Kingdom, should explain the purpose of sending their troops to these military exercises now taking place. 

Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said they would now continue to work on the draft annual report of the Conference in an informal meeting.  The next public plenary would be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 August. 

For use of the information media; not an official record


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