Conference on Disarmament – Informal Plenary Meeting, 9 August 2016 – Statement by Ambassador Tehmina Janjua – Permanent Representative of Pakistan
We appreciate the manner in which you are conducting your work as the President of the Conference on Disarmament (CD). We welcome your initiative for organizing this informal panel discussion in the CD on the challenges to nuclear disarmament. We thank the two panellists for their inputs and would like to briefly highlight our views on this important issue.
I have broadly placed the challenges to nuclear disarmament under three main clusters: first, ignoring of the principle of equal and undiminished security for all States, and the increasing sophistication of non-nuclear weapons; second, discriminatory revisionism of the global nuclear order; and third, divergences on the path to nuclear disarmament.
Ignoring of the principle of equal and undiminished security for all States and increasing sophistication of non-nuclear weapons
The Final Document of SSOD-I in 1978 recognized nuclear disarmament as the highest priority of the international community and the raison d’être of the CD. SSOD-I emphasized that, in the adoption of disarmament measures, the right of each state to security should be kept in mind and that, at each stage of the disarmament process “the objective should be undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.”
What we are witnessing today is the exact opposite. States that have espoused the aspiration of ridding the world of nuclear weapons albeit in some undefined distant future, continue to increase the destructive power and sophistication of other weapon systems. The prime objective of the disarmament process – the attainment of equal and undiminished security for all States at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces – is being ignored by a select few to tilt the strategic balance in their favour. That, in our view, presents the biggest challenge and lies at the heart of the impasse in the global disarmament agenda.
Rather than building a cooperative and multilateral mechanism that ensures the right of each State to security, certain countries have been blinded by their unabashed quest for hegemony and military domination.
They hold the mistaken view that the aspiration to achieve a world without nuclear weapons would be facilitated by building more advanced and more sophisticated conventional weapons and armed forces. This, coupled with other military developments in the cyber domain and in outer space including advances in lethal autonomous weapon systems, decreases the prospects for nuclear disarmament.
States that are faced by overwhelming odds in the form of non-nuclear weapons will be less, and not more likely to give up their nuclear deterrence capability. This is especially true in situations and regions with a history of mistrust and unresolved disputes – and where nuclear deterrence has served as an effective guarantee against the outbreak of war.
Contrary to nuclear weapons, which essentially exist as weapons of deterrence, States will be less inhibited in using force with so-called conventional weapons. A nuclear weapons free world would be less stable and secure if some countries posses disproportionately excessive conventional military capabilities. Nuclear disarmament, therefore, needs to be pursued in a comprehensive and holistic manner in full accordance with the principles already agreed upon by SSOD-I.
Discriminatory revisionism of the global nuclear order
The granting of discriminatory waivers and creating country-specific exceptions in the rules governing the non-proliferation regime is undermining the regime and complicating regional and global security. In the multilateral export control regimes, above all in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we continue to observe the operation of double standards and blatant discrimination for narrow strategic and commercial gains. These developments are negatively affecting progress on multilateral and bilateral arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.
There is no denying the fact that the relationship of non-NPT nuclear weapon states with the non-proliferation regime has to be normalized. They need to be integrated into the mainstream on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis in order for them to assume their due responsibilities as States possessing nuclear weapons. Their cooperation and involvement with the nuclear disarmament process on an equal footing is indispensible.
It is time to eschew discriminatory and revisionist policies and build a truly cooperative and equitable global nuclear order where all responsible nuclear weapon States are integrated and geared towards a common objective of nuclear disarmament.
Divergences on the path to nuclear disarmament
The major divergences on the path towards nuclear disarmament have become starkly visible on two levels. On the one hand, a group of States are attempting to divert the attention from the fulfilment of their obligations and commitments on nuclear disarmament to the conclusion of additional non-proliferation measures under the so-called step-by-step, progressive, and building blocks approach. They are largely focussed on steps that are cost-free for their own security, while negatively affecting other States’ security.
On the other hand, there are moves to trivialize and exclude vital security considerations from the debate on nuclear disarmament, and to recast the discourse in exclusively humanitarian terms leading to a prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Both these approaches are bound to fail unless they take all the major stakeholders on board. Nuclear disarmament cannot progress without addressing the existential security concerns of States. We need approaches that unite us in our common endeavour towards a nuclear weapons free world, and not those that create additional fissures. Anything forced outside the CD on a non-consensus basis, without all stakeholders on board, would do just that.
Lately, the UN disarmament machinery and the CD has become the target of some misguided criticism. It is argued that not substantive security concerns, but rather procedural issues like the CD’s methods of work are preventing progress on the disarmament agenda. We reject this simplistic view and believe that it is only the CD where all militarily significant states participate on an equal footing and are able to protect their vital security interests under the cardinal and indispensible rule of consensus. The CD does not operate in a vacuum and reflects the prevailing strategic realities. Simply condemning the CD, or trying to find ways around it, only amounts to addressing the symptoms without tackling the root causes.
The progress in the CD might be slow, and results few and far between, but the panacea for revitalizing the global disarmament agenda neither lies in abandoning the CD, nor in the pursuance of inequitable treaties. Real breakthrough can only be achieved by exercising genuine political will to build consensus and cooperatively advance the shared goals of international peace and security, and disarmament, on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis.
Before I conclude, I want to emphasize that Pakistan has consistently supported the goal of a nuclear weapons free world through the conclusion of a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable, comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the CD. Pakistan is ready to join negotiations towards this end in the CD. As recognized by SSOD-I, the objective of this process should be undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces. We have to realise that it is highly unrealistic to aspire for absolute security and unrestrained freedom of action for oneself, while expecting others to compromise on their peaceful existence by circumscribing their legitimate security interests. However painstaking and time-consuming, there is simply no shortcut to building a consensus-based, cooperative and non-discriminatory approach towards nuclear disarmament.
I thank you, Mr. President.