As this is the first time that my delegation is taking the floor in a formal plenary meeting this year, let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the Presidency of the CD. We are very pleased to see you in the Chair and assure you of our full support and cooperation. We thank you for the extensive informal consultations that you have undertaken so far and appreciate all your efforts in facilitating a useful discussion among member states aimed at the resumption of substantive work in the CD. Let me also acknowledge the commitment and dedicated support of the CD Secretariat.
Pakistan attaches very high importance to the work of the CD and remains committed to its effective functioning. As the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body, the CD is an integral and vital part of the UN disarmament machinery. Its strength and effectiveness lies in its representative and inclusive nature. All militarily significant states participate in the CD on an equal footing and are able to protect their vital security interests under the consensus rule. These attributes are indispensible for any forum dealing with disarmament and security issues.
A breakthrough in the CD can be achieved by exercising genuine political will to cooperatively advance the goals of international and regional peace and security, and disarmament, on a non-discriminatory basis. The overarching objective guiding this work should be the cardinal principle of equal and undiminished security for all States.
Pakistan stands ready to actively support any effort towards this end in the CD. Pakistan, however, like any other State, cannot be expected to join any endeavour, whether inside or outside the CD, that is detrimental to its legitimate national security interests.
Pakistan supports negotiations in the CD on a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable, comprehensive nuclear weapons convention as well as on an international treaty on Negative Security Assurances and the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space.
Pakistan also stands ready to join substantive work in the CD on other contemporary issues affecting international peace and security such as chemical and biological terrorism, cyber warfare, and Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems.
We are of the view that disagreement over the start of negotiations in the CD should not prevent us from undertaking substantive discussions on all agenda items. The Way Ahead Working Group last year featured extremely valuable and in-depth consideration of all agenda items of the CD. It helped in developing a better understanding of each others’ concerns and expectations, providing an opportunity to build on the convergences and narrow down the differences. There is a need to sustain that momentum by putting in place a realistic and practical framework for substantive work this year in the CD that can enjoy consensus.
We heard a statement today by the distinguished representative of Canada, Ambassador Heidi Hulan, Chair of the so called “High-Level FMCT Expert Preparatory Group”. Pakistan’s position on the issue of fissile material and on the establishment of this Expert Group is well known and remains unchanged. The work of the Expert Group is severely hamstrung by its limited and incomplete composition, which excludes key stakeholders, as well as by its restrictive mandate and basis of work, which not only lacks clarity on the scope and objective of the treaty under discussion, but rather skews it towards an outcome that would contribute little to nuclear disarmament and prove detrimental to regional and international security. I want to place on record that Pakistan will not be in a position to accept any conclusion or recommendation produced by this Expert Group including any attempt to force its report on to the CD. Also, Pakistan’s engagement with the process of open-ended consultations conducted by the Group’s Chairperson in New York should neither be seen as an endorsement of this Expert Group, nor as a substitute for Pakistan’s full participation in it.
We regret that this Group was established outside the CD by a vote in the UNGA. It was most unfortunate that a deliberate decision was taken to persist with a divisive approach aimed at seeking pseudo progress towards a contentious treaty with unclear objectives and a contested scope; rather than addressing the concerns of states that harbour reservations and creating the right conditions that would facilitate genuine progress towards a treaty dealing with the past and future production of fissile materials.
I thank you, Mr. President.