Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Confidence Building Measures
National statement delievered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Confidence Building Measures, 18 January 2018, New York.
Let me begin by thanking you for convening today's timely meeting on this important issue. Kazakhstan's historic contribution to the disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is commendable. Indeed, by your decision, more than 25 years ago, to give up your nuclear weapons, you have shown that nuclear disarmament is indeed possible. Your personal commitment to end nuclear testing and promote the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty deserves our appreciation. It is a priority shared by Sweden and all members of the European Union. Let me also thank the Secretary-General for his thoughtful intervention this morning.
In his new year's message, the Secretary-General told us that "Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War." The headlines in recent months speculating about the possibility of the use of a nuclear weapon are an unwelcome echo from the past. Meanwhile, both state and non-state actors push the boundaries of our common values through the use of chemical weapons. There is no doubt that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a serious threat to international peace and security.
Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are two sides of the same coin and mutually reinforcing. Making progress on both fronts must be a priority for the international community and for this Council. It is not only a moral and humanitarian responsibility, but also essential for our common security interests.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT, remains the indispensable framework and the cornerstone of global disarmament and non-proliferation. We are committed to the success of the current NPT review cycle. This will require progress on all three pillars of the treaty, including disarmament, where the nuclear-weapon States have a special responsibility. The widespread frustration within the international community regarding the lack of progress within the NPT context is real and well-founded. It needs to be addressed by concrete progress in the implementation of existing disarmament commitments.
Effective disarmament will require sincere negotiations in good faith within the framework of all existing conventions. We must all act according to our commitments and live up to our promises. Moving forward, it is essential that we build mutual trust – as has been stressed by the Secretary-General and the President this morning – including by increasing understanding for one another's perspectives – something clearly lacking today. We must also mobilise the necessary political will to negotiate, and compromise, in order to reach a positive outcome.
The paralysis of the Conference on Disarmament, the CD, now into its 22nd year, should be a matter of concern for us all. Sweden will assume the rotating presidency of the CD next month. We will make all efforts to identify a combination of substantive issues on the basis of which a programme of work can finally be agreed upon, which we hope may help to break the deadlock.
We are also faced with the increasing threat of weapons of mass destruction being obtained by non-state actors. Collective efforts are needed to meet the evolving threats and to uphold the global non-proliferation regime. All states must work to implement their obligations under Security Council resolution 1540.
Confidence-building measures can help reduce tensions, prevent conflicts and build the trust necessary for effective disarmament and non-proliferation. Such efforts are strengthened if based on the clear principles of accountability, transparency, irreversibility and verifiability - principles which guide Swedish engagement in support of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification and the Quad Nuclear Verification Partnership, and the Secretary-General's Investigative Mechanism for chemical and biological weapons. The Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia provides a good example of where these principles have been applied. It was the first zone of its kind to be based on verification according to the Model Additional Protocol. This provided the IAEA with the ability to verify not only the non-diversion of declared nuclear material, but also the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in participating states.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is another important example of the potential of diplomacy. The JCPOA is designed to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme. This crucial agreement contributes to stability within the region and beyond and it contributes significantly to strengthening the global non-proliferation architecture. As reiterated by the EU High Representative, Frederica Mogherini, and many others around the table, the European Union remains committed to support the full implementation of the JCPOA, and it is vital that all parties continue to implement their commitments.
The IAEA verification and the Joint Commission for addressing implementation matters are both indispensable components of the agreement. In addition, we look forward to Iran's early ratification of the Additional Protocol, which is essential to building confidence and ensuring sustainability.
This Council has repeatedly addressed the testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by the DPRK, in breach of international obligations and contrary to the existing global norm against nuclear testing embodied in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We continue to condemn these actions in the strongest terms. The full and comprehensive implementation of this Council's relevant resolutions by all UN member-states is needed.
At the same time, sanctions alone will not solve the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Efforts are needed to pave the way for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the conflict. In parallel to effectively implementing the sanctions regime, we must undertake further work to reduce tensions and to build trust. We welcome the latest development on the Korean Peninsula, including the steps taken to re-open channels of communication such as military to military dialogue. This is an important means to avoid misunderstandings and to reduce tensions. We also welcome the decision of the DPRK to participate in the Olympic Games. These are positive developments. It is important to seize this window of opportunity and to support all efforts that can lead to denuclearization and peaceful relations on the Korean Peninsula.
Stepped-up efforts are also needed to address the issue of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq is illegal and unacceptable.
There can be no impunity for such grave violations of international law. Those responsible must be identified and brought to justice. We deeply regret the multiple instances of the use of the veto in this Council, hindering accountability.
Recent allegations of the use of chlorine gas in the Syria and on-going investigations by the OPCW Fact-Finding Missions only serve to further illustrate the need to continue our efforts to develop a new mechanism for attribution, to ensure accountability and to uphold the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The Council has a responsibility in this regard, and Sweden will continue its efforts to find a way forward.
In his New Year's message, the Secretary-General also urged leaders to bring people together around common goals. Surely, one of these goals must be furthering non-proliferation and disarmament. This Council must work together and enhance its efforts to promote and uphold progress, including by helping building confidence and trust between countries. We will continue to work actively will all partners to further disarmament and non-proliferation, respect for international law and accountability for those who violate international norms and obligations.