Zarif Addresses UN Arms Conference

April 27, 2015

On April 27, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in an address to the 2015 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) conference in New York. In his role as chair of the coordinating bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, an organization of some 120 developing countries, Zarif also called for the “non-discriminatory and balanced implementation” of the NPT. Parties to the treaty meet every five years to review it. The following are Zarif’s prepared remarks as provided by Iran’s mission to the United Nations.

Madam President,
Distinguished Delegates,
I have the privilege to speak on behalf of the Group of the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). I would like to congratulate you, Madam President, on your election as President of this Review Conference and assures you of our group’s full cooperation. We hope that under your able leadership, the Conference will have a successful outcome. 
Madam President,
AS the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty, we emphasize the role of the Treaty as the essential foundation for the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime as well as for promoting international cooperation and assistance in support of the inalienable right of States Parties to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The NPT Review Conferences are very important events in our collective efforts to achieve the objectives of the Treaty. It is important that we all strive to strengthen the Treaty by adopting substantive outcome documents, which reflect the determination and commitment of States Parties to continue their efforts in good faith to achieve the objectives of the NPT.
However, to ensure the realization of the objectives of the Treaty, and thereby its long-term success and credibility, implementation of the obligations under the Treaty, and the agreements of its Review Conferences, is imperative. In this context, the Group reiterates that the full, non-discriminatory and balanced implementation of the three pillars of the NPT is crucial for maintaining its credibility, realizing its objectives, and promoting international peace and security.
Five years ago, the Review Conference succeeded in agreeing to an action plan on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. Regrettably, the status of the implementation of the 2010 action plan is far from encouraging.
The nuclear-weapon-States have not made progress in eliminating their nuclear weapons. The role of nuclear weapons in security policies of the nuclear-weapon-States has not diminished. Some nuclear weapons States are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and planning research on new nuclear warheads, others have announced their intention to develop new delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The non-nuclear-weapons States Parties have not yet received unequivocal and legally binding security assurances. The transfer of nuclear technology continues to face impediments inconsistent with the Treaty, and no progress has been made to achieve universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East; to give but a few examples of the lack of implementation of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 agreements.
The broad support for the UN General Assembly High level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in 2013 and the Vienna Conference on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014 reflects increasingly widespread concern and impatience with the lack of progress towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.    
Madam President,
We in the Non-Aligned Movement consider nuclear disarmament as its highest priority and reiterates once again that the continued existence of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to humanity. We remain extremely concerned at their possible use or threat of use and are convinced that their total elimination is the only absolute guarantee against such use or threat of use.
The nuclear-weapon-States, in the 2010 NPT Review Conference, committed to accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament, and to fulfilling their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty and their unequivocal undertakings to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. We express deep concern at the continued lack of progress in the implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments by the nuclear-weapon-States, which could undermine the object and purpose of the Treaty and the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.
Full compliance of the nuclear-weapon-States with their nuclear disarmament undertakings is imperative, and will enhance confidence in the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Each article of the Treaty is binding on all States Parties at all times and in all circumstances. 
We underline the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.
We reaffirm our proposal for the urgent commencement of negotiating and bringing to a successful conclusion, in the Conference on Disarmament, a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, which includes a phased program and a specified time frame for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In this context, our Group has put forward a working paper entitled “elements for a plan of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons”.   
The decision of some nuclear-weapon States to modernize their nuclear weapons is a source of serious concern. The modernization of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems undermines the unilateral and bilateral reductions made so far.
The improvement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new types of nuclear weapons violate the commitments undertaken by the nuclear-weapon States at the time of the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Such actions are incompatible with action 1 of the Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference, in which all States Parties committed to pursue policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
We call upon the nuclear-weapon States to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.
We recall the commitment made by some nuclear-weapon States, under action 4 of the 2010 action plan, to further reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons and strongly urge them to adopt all required measures in order to achieve deeper reductions in their nuclear arsenals in realization of the objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
In this regard, reductions in deployments and in operational status cannot substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons and, accordingly, calls on the nuclear-weapon States to apply the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability to all such cuts.
We remain deeply concerned by military and security doctrines of the nuclear-weapon States as well as that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in which they justify the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and maintain unjustifiably the concept of security based on nuclear deterrence and nuclear military alliances.
We firmly believe that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity and a violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, in particular international humanitarian law. In this regard, we strongly call for the complete exclusion of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons from military doctrines. The nuclear-weapon States shall seriously refrain, under any circumstances, from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty.
Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, it is the legitimate right of all non‑nuclear-weapon States Parties to receive effective, universal, unconditional, non‑discriminatory and irrevocable legally binding security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances. We express our dissatisfaction over the lack of required political will and efforts by the nuclear-weapon-States to fully address this legitimate interest.
Madam President,
Our Group reaffirms its principled position on nuclear non-proliferation, and underscores the necessity of the full and non-discriminatory implementation of Articles I and II of the Treaty by all States Parties. In our view, any horizontal proliferation and nuclear-weapon-sharing by States Parties constitute a violation of non-proliferation obligations under articles I and II. We call upon the nuclear-weapon-States to undertake to accept full-scope safeguards in order to assure compliance with their non-proliferation obligations.   
Proliferation concerns are best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory agreements. Additional measures related to the safeguards shall not affect the rights of the non-nuclear-weapon-States parties to the Treaty.
We recognize the IAEA as the sole competent authority for the verification of the fulfillment of safeguards obligations assumed by States parties under the NPT, express full confidence in the IAEA and strongly reject attempts to politicize the work of the IAEA. In this context, the Group underlines the importance of strict observance of the IAEA Statute and relevant comprehensive safeguards agreements, in conducting verification activities.
We underline the importance of universal adherence to the Treaty and call upon all non-parties to the Treaty to accede to the Treaty, as non-nuclear-weapon States, and place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards. All States Parties should make every effort to achieve the universality of the Treaty and refrain from taking any actions that could negatively affect prospects for the universality of the Treaty. In this context, we welcome the accession of Palestine as the 191st State-party to the Treaty.
Strict observance of and adherence to IAEA comprehensive safeguards and to the Treaty are conditions for any cooperation in the nuclear area with States not parties to the Treaty. All States parties to the Treaty shall refrain from the transfer of nuclear technology and materials to States not party to the Treaty unless these conditions are met.
Madam President,
We in the Group of NAM States Parties to the NPT emphasize the significance of full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of Article IV of the Treaty on "the inalienable right of all the parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty". This constitutes one of the fundamental objectives of the Treaty and as stipulated in that Article, nothing in the Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting this inalienable right.
Each State party, in line with its national requirements and in accordance with the rights and obligations under the Treaty, has a sovereign right to define its national energy and fuel-cycle policies, including the inalienable right to develop, for peaceful purposes, a full national nuclear fuel-cycle. Accordingly, the choices and decisions of each State party in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be fully respected.
We underline the right of all States parties to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We strongly reject, and call for the immediate removal of, any restrictions or limitations posed on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including restrictions on exports to other States parties of nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes.
Concerns related to nuclear proliferation shall not, in any way, restrict the inalienable right of any State party to develop all aspects of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, as stipulated in Article IV of the Treaty. States parties should refrain from any action that would limit certain peaceful nuclear activities on the grounds of their "sensitivity", as the Treaty does not prohibit the transfer or use of nuclear technology, equipment or material based on such grounds.
Madam President,
The Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, in their Tehran Summit Declaration of 2012, reiterated their support for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and as a priority step to this end, reaffirmed the need for the speedy establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East. They also called upon all parties concerned to take urgent and practical steps for the establishment of such a zone and, pending its establishment, demanded that Israel, the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, to accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, to place promptly all its nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards and to conduct its nuclear related activities in conformity with the non-proliferation regime. They expressed great concern over the acquisition of nuclear capability by Israel which poses a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other States, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals. They also called for the total and complete prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and the extension of assistance in the nuclear related scientific or technological fields to Israel.
We are determined to continue pursuing, as a matter of high priority, the implementation of the 1995 Resolution and the 2010 action plan on the Middle East and strongly support the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The 1995 Resolution on the Middle East constitutes an integral and essential part of the package of decisions reached that enabled the indefinite extension of the Treaty without a vote in 1995. This resolution remains valid until its objectives are achieved.
We express our serious concern over the long delay in the implementation of the 1995 Resolution and urge the three cosponsors of the Resolution, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation, to take all necessary measures to fully implement it without any further delay.
We recall the consensus decision of the 2010 NPT Review Conference on convening, in 2012, of a Conference on the establishment of a zone free from nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and are profoundly disappointed by the failure of the conveners to convene the conference in 2012 as scheduled. This failure is contrary to the letter and spirit of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and contradicts and violates the collective agreement of the States Parties reached at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We strongly reject the arguments presented by the Conveners for not convening the Conference as mandated.
We also strongly call for the withdrawal of any related reservations or unilateral interpretative declarations that are incompatible with the object and purpose of those treaties establishing nuclear weapon free zones and their protocols.
Madam President,
Our Group underscores the importance of renewed political will by all States parties to achieve a successful conclusion of the 2015 review process and stands ready to engage constructively with other partners towards this objective. We are of the view that the 2010 NPT action plan represents an outcome that the 2015 NPT Review Process can build upon to strengthen the implementation of the Treaty, especially in nuclear disarmament, and in achieving its universality. We are determined to continue our collective efforts in pursuing the realization of NAM priorities in the 2015 NPT review process, in particular to begin negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention as called for by the UNGA Resolution 68/32.
Let us work together to achieve real success by agreeing on a comprehensive, balanced and practical substantive outcome document, containing in particular clear time-bound undertakings by the nuclear weapon States to eliminate all their nuclear weapons and related delivery systems and infrastructure. Only such an outcome can bring a shred of hope that we would be able to rid the world of these inhumane weapons and to bring a safer world for our children.
Photo credit: Robin Wright