It is my pleasure to speak during this year’s high level segment of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) under Sweden’s presidency. We take note of the remarks delivered by the UN Secretary General yesterday and thank him for his interest on disarmament issues and his personal support to the CD. We are also pleased to observe the support for the CD expressed by many Ministers and high-level speakers yesterday and today.
Pakistan attaches great importance to the CD’s role as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body, which is an integral and vital part of the UN disarmament machinery. We remain committed to the CD’s efficient functioning and are heartened by the recent decision adopted under Sri Lanka’s presidency to establish five subsidiary bodies dealing with all agenda items.
Our march towards the shared goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world has been marred by an erosion of the international consensus established by the first Special Session of the UNGA devoted to disarmament. The quest for establishing regional and global hegemony is continuing unabated. The discriminatory revisionism of the global nuclear order, driven by strategic and commercial considerations, as against the building of a truly equitable rules-based disarmament and non-proliferation regime, is fuelling instability and mistrust.
States aspiring for absolute security and unrestrained freedom of action for themselves need to realise that such objectives cannot be achieved by unrealistically expecting other States to compromise on their legitimate vital interests. It is also equally unrealistic to force progress on issues that belong to the CD, on a non-consensus basis outside the Conference, by ignoring and trivialising security concerns.
Pakistan supports arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament measures aimed at ensuring equal and undiminished security for all States, as recognized by SSOD-I. Any treaty that does not meet this principle would be a non-starter. No country can be expected to enter into negotiations on a treaty that would be detrimental to its national security, as evidenced by the non-universal participation in the process leading to the nuclear weapons Ban Treaty and the failure to kickoff substantive work on a fissile material treaty.
The situation in the CD today is a reflection of the prevailing strategic realities and the competing priorities of its member states. It has little to do with the CD’s Rules of Procedure or working methods. This forum has had many successes to its credit when genuine political will existed to advance the disarmament agenda in a non-discriminatory manner. The CD, with the presence of all key stakeholders working under the cardinal consensus rule, is best placed to collectively address the issues on its agenda.
After Pakistan’s security was qualitatively challenged by the introduction of nuclear weapons in our immediate neighbourhood, we were left with no option but to follow suit, in order to restore strategic stability in South Asia. In parallel, Pakistan pursued numerous efforts to keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons. Between 1974 and 1998, after the first nuclear test was conducted in our neighborhood, Pakistan made several proposals including for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in South Asia; simultaneous application of IAEA safeguards on all nuclear facilities and bilateral arrangement for their reciprocal inspections; simultaneous accession to the NPT; regional CTBT; Zero Missile Regime in South Asia; and signing of a Non-Aggression Pact.
Even after 1998, we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to regional peace and stability. Our proposal for the establishment of a Strategic Restraint Regime, premised on three interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint, and conventional force balance, as well as our proposal for concluding a bilateral arrangement on a nuclear-test-ban remain on the table.
Strategic stability in South Asia has been negatively impacted by discriminatory approaches and deviation from established non-proliferation norms. It is essential for the international community to adopt an approach to this region that is even-handed and criteria-based rather than one that is driven by strategic and commercial considerations.
As a responsible nuclear State, Pakistan desires to contribute to the global efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament on an equal footing as a mainstream partner of the international community. Pakistan has the requisite credentials that entitle it to benefit from civil nuclear cooperation and trade, and to become part of the multilateral export control regimes including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on a non-discriminatory basis.
Pakistan has consistently supported nuclear disarmament through the conclusion of a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the CD, leading to undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.
Pakistan has a long history of commitment to promote Negative Security Assurances (NSAs). In 1979, Pakistan tabled a draft International Convention on this issue at the CD. Since 1990, Pakistan has annually introduced a resolution on NSAs at the UNGA. Pakistan supports the conclusion of a treaty in the CD to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan also supports the commencement of negotiations on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). There is an urgent need to address this issue in order to prevent outer space from emerging as the new realm of conflict. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, commonly known as PPWT, tabled jointly by China and the Russian Federation in 2008, and updated in 2014, provides a useful basis for the commencement of negotiations in the CD.
Besides the issues of nuclear disarmament, NSAs and PAROS, which are ripe for negotiations in the CD, Pakistan also stands ready to consider legally binding instruments in the CD on other contemporary issues that are of a direct concern to international peace and security. These include Cyber Security, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and chemical and biological terrorism. These issues deserve our serious and urgent attention.
A treaty that only bans the future production of fissile material would adversely affect Pakistan’s security and freeze the status quo to the permanent strategic advantage of a select few States – which unsurprisingly happen to be the most ardent supporters of such a treaty. The asymmetry in existing fissile material stocks in South Asia has been compounded by the discriminatory policies of the major nuclear suppliers. Besides, a treaty on fissile material that does not cover existing stocks would merely be a non-proliferation instrument and make no contribution to nuclear disarmament. Pakistan’s Working Paper on Elements of a Fissile Material Treaty, outlining concrete proposals for dealing with existing stocks, contained in document CD/2036, remains valid.
In the absence of consensus on the commencement of negotiations on any issue on the CD’s agenda, as is the case now, the next best alternative is to hold structured discussions on all agenda items. As witnessed in the past, in-depth discussions held under the CD’s Schedule of Activities and the Way Ahead Working Group were of great value. They allowed an interactive exchange of views to better understand the various perspectives and added substance to the CD’s work. We, therefore, look forward to the resumption of substantive work in the CD on all agenda items, on the basis of the decision adopted earlier this year, without any preconditions or preconceived outcomes in a congenial atmosphere.
Before concluding, let me reiterate that Pakistan deeply values the CD’s potential in addressing the global security challenges through cooperative multilateralism and consensus-based approaches. You will always find my delegation as an active and constructive participant in the work of the CD.
I thank you.