Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva Ambassador Gennady Gatilov at the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, March 5, 2024

6 March 2024 16:58


439-06-03-2024

Mr. President,

Distinguished colleagues,

The session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is taking place against the backdrop of further deterioration of the situation in the sphere of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. In pursuit of world domination Washington and its satellites are expanding their network of alliances against third countries and are actively implementing a range of programs that undermine global stability and regional security.

The threat associated with the destructive course of the United States and NATO to aggravate the Ukrainian crisis in order to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia is not abating. It’s suffice to mention, for example, the recent statements of the President of France E.Macron on sending the troops to Ukraine to conduct the combat operations or the threats of Lithuania’s Ambassador in Stockholm to “neutralize”, i.e. eliminate Kaliningrad, since the Baltic Sea has become “internal” after Sweden’s accession to NATO. And, of course, the discussions of high-ranking Bundeswehr’s officers in social networks about the plans to strike the Crimean bridge with Taurus cruise-missiles provokes complete outrage. There was a very specific discussion about whether 10 or even 20 cruise missiles would be needed to destroy it. And on this background Western representatives are making hypocritical speeches about the strategic stability! By becoming more and more involved in the armed conflict, Western countries illusorily believe that they are able to increase coercive pressure on Russia without losing control over the escalation. However, this approach is not only risky but also completely futile.

For our part we are firmly committed to the postulate that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. That is why it is necessary to prevent any armed conflicts between the nuclear Powers, and thus in effect demonstrate readiness to mutually respect the security concerns of other parties, as stipulated in the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States signed on January 3, 2022.

Against the background of Washington’s highly dangerous policy, the US approach to arms control issues is twice as hypocritical. The Americans are combining the practice of deliberate dismantling of international treaties – those that hinder Washington – with cynical attempts to promote devious schemes of interaction aimed at gaining unilateral advantages and benefits. At the same time, the United States purposefully creates conditions in which the implementation of a number of arms control agreements becomes counterproductive for the other side.

Washington’s calls to reduce strategic risks are also inadequate, while in reality the US itself continues to intentionally create such risks with its provocations and forceful pressure on other countries. This approach destroys the principle of equal and indivisible security, on which the maintenance of international peace, as well as regional and global stability should be based.

We are convinced that to prevent further degradation of the situation in the world and to maintain long-term stability it is necessary to make a collective efforts to build a renewed international security architecture based on the universal principles of multilateralism and genuine equality. We entrust the UN disarmament machinery, including the CD, as ever with a decisive role in finding ways to bring the arms control system out of crisis.

Mr. President,

On the agenda of the CD, we emphasize the issue of developing a multilateral legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space (PAROS). Recently, the risks of turning outer space into a foothold for aggression and a war have become real. The United States and its allies have started implementing the course of using near-Earth space for military operations and deployment of weapons systems.

The United States with the support of its allies have advanced its propaganda campaign to discredit Russia’s space activities and our PAROS initiatives while in reality Washington simply tries to divert the attention of the international community from the real threats in outer space and to secure additional funding to strengthen its national military-space capabilities. At the same time, the absurdity of Washington’s anti-Russian insinuations has reached truly “cosmic” scale. The US is now making unfounded accusations of some kind of activity in outer space that threatens international security and that is ostensibly connected with the “placement of nuclear weapons there”.

We strongly reject such delusional speculations, which have nothing to do with reality. Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its strict commitment to its international legal obligations, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. It’s us, who consistently advocate the preservation of outer space for exclusively peaceful activities of all States on an equal footing. For many consecutive years we have called for negotiations on a multilateral legally binding instrument on PAROS that would contain a comprehensive ban on the deployment of any type of weapon (not just weapons of mass destruction) in outer space, as well as the use of force or the threat of force in, from, or against outer space.

We are firmly convinced that the development of such agreement remains the only way to avoid the weaponization of outer space, and, as a consequence, armed conflicts in near-Earth orbits. Ironically, it is the United States that has been blocking the implementation of this initiative for a long period of time and preventing the start of relevant negotiations.

The basis for the preparation of such a legally binding instrument exists. It is the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects, presented to the CD by Russia and China for consideration. We trust that the specialized UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) established upon the initiative of Russia and like-minded States, which began its work in November 2023, will facilitate the launch of negotiations by agreeing on recommendations on the substantive elements of an international legally binding instrument. The Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on PAROS, which is established for the period until 2028 pursuant to UNGA Resolution 78/238, will also contribute to the realization of these objectives.

Mr. President,

Nuclear disarmament cannot be considered in isolation from the current international situation which is characterized by increasing unpredictability, worsening crises and deepening divisions among States. Neutralizing these negative manifestations requires collective efforts. Nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States should equally contribute to the overall reduction of international tensions, the strengthening of stability and the establishment of a realistic global disarmament agenda in accordance with the interconnected goals set out in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Russia has always been in favour of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime based on NPT. The long history of this Treaty’s successful functioning is evidence of its relevance to all States Parties, both nuclear and non-nuclear.

In 2023, a new NPT review cycle began. We hope that States Parties will remain committed to preserving the Treaty and will be ready to engage in more open and respectful interaction during further events in the framework of the current review, the next of which will take place here, in Geneva. At the very least, we intend to do our utmost to achieve this goal.

Russia, as an observer, is making its contribution to the work of the annual Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. The four sessions that have already taken place convincingly demonstrate that with the launch of this format, an additional opportunity has arisen to move forward the issue of creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.

The situation around the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) leaves much to be desired. Since 1999, the US, which was the main initiator of this Treaty, has not made a single significant step towards its ratification, limiting itself, and in fact, only declaring a certain “good intention” with regard to this instrument that has crucial importance for international security. At the same time, the US continues to maintain the Nevada Test Site on high alert without abandoning the idea of conducting a full-scale nuclear test as part of the modernization of the relevant arsenal.

Precisely this irresponsible line of the United States with regard to the CTBT, as well as the “hybrid” war launched by this State against Russia and its bid to inflict a “strategic defeat” on our Country, prompted us to withdraw ratification of the CTBT. At the same time, Russia remains a State signatory 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 moratorium on nuclear testing that was introduced in 1992. Russia’s commitment to the CTBT is exemplified 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.

We also highlight the urgent need for immediate action to strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). This is clearly confirmed by the facts of the implementation of the United States biological-military programme in Ukraine discovered during the special military operation. At the same time, the substantiated questions officially put by Russia to the United States and Ukraine remain answered and as a consequence require resolution. We will endeavor to resolve this situation.

We will continue our constructive work to strengthen the BTWC, primarily in the relevant Working Group, including the possible preparation of a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism. We call for support for Russian initiatives aimed at strengthening the institutional framework of the BTWC.

We note the further deterioration of an already unacceptable situation in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This once highly authoritative and purely technical international structure has already been turned by Western States into a tool for realizing their geopolitical interests in the Middle East and beyond. The result of the West’s destructive activities has been a split in the OPCW and the loss of its independent status and authority as a universally recognized expert structure in the field of chemical disarmament and non-proliferation. We urge those States Parties to the CWC who care about the destiny of this once successful disarmament mechanism to prevent the final degradation of the Organization.

In order to counter the threat of chemical and biological terrorism we stress the importance of launching multilateral negotiations on suppressing acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament. Strengthening the international legal basis for countering weapons of mass destruction terrorism is in the interests of all States.

Mr. President,

Despite all difficulties, the Conference on Disarmament remains a unique, non-alternative negotiating platform for the elaboration of multilateral legally binding agreements in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The forum’s Agenda, formulated many years ago, remains relevant to this day. The urgency of starting negotiations on some of the CD Agenda items becomes increasingly clear to us.

Russia has always supported efforts to seek consensus and build constructive work in the Conference on Disarmament. However, as the experience of recent years has shown, attempts are becoming more frequent to introduce into the Agenda of the Conference issues that do not correspond to the mandate of the CD or on which dialogue is already under way in other specialized multilateral fora (in particular, this concerns issues of international information security, lethal autonomous weapons systems and the military use of artificial intelligence).

Such a shift in focus distracts from the discussion of the actual issues under consideration by the CD. Together with States that share this principled position, we will continue to work towards the adoption of a balanced Programme of Work which provides for the resumption of the negotiation process.

I thank you for your attention.

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John Pike