Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry smiles during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Cairo, Egypt May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO - 27 February 2018: Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry delivered a speech stressed during the Tuesday Conference on Disarmament (CD), where he emphasized that all countries should be committed to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).
Below is the full text of the speech:
"Ms. Veronika Bard, President of the Conference on Disarmament,
Your Excellency Ambassadors, Representatives of Member States of the CD
Let me at the outset congratulate you Madam President on the assumption of the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in this critical juncture of the new session. I would also like to express our gratitude to Mr. Michael Moller, Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva and Secretary General of the CD for his continued support of the CD. I would like to assure you of Egypt’s support to the Presidency of the CD and all constructive efforts aiming at adopting a comprehensive and balanced program of work. We hope that the 2018 Session will succeed in restoring the CD’s effectiveness and carry out its instrumental role in negotiating international disarmament treaties.
The Conference on Disarmament has been in stalemate for over two decades and has regrettably been unable, throughout this long period, in adopting a program of work, despite the sincere efforts exerted in this regard. This situation is both disappointing and unacceptable. It should drive us to review the reasons that have led to this situation and double our efforts to reverse the current status quo with a view to preserving the credibility and integrity of the CD. As the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum in the international community, the CD must shoulder its share of responsibility in advancing global international security.
The longstanding impasse in the CD is not only negatively affecting its role and credibility, it is reinforcing an unfortunate rising sentiment in international relations that sees states pursuing narrow national interests, while overlooking the overall shared global security interest that transcends us all. If the CD is to break its deadlock and restore its historic and central role in the field of disarmament, all States must resist prioritizing national interests at the expense of advancing collective security and demonstrate the necessary flexibility and political will.
Accordingly, I would like to welcome the recent adoption of the decision early this month to establish five subsidiary bodies on the agenda items of the Conference. This represents an important and qualitative development in the work of the CD. We hope the CD will build on this progress throughout this year’s session and the decision would pave the way to adopt a comprehensive and balanced program of work in the near future.
Despite repeated calls by Egypt and the international community, throughout several decades and on numerous occasions and forums, to realize the total and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons in compliance with one of the main pillars of the NPT, these calls have fallen on deaf ears until now.
Nuclear weapons continue to exist in overwhelming numbers, thereby posing a serious threat to international security. Nuclear deterrence remains a defining characteristic of certain military alliances and nuclear weapons continue to feature in strategic defense doctrines. New generations of such weapons are being developed, nuclear weapons continue to be stationed in other countries, and some states engaged in policy reviews have announced plans for the modernization of their nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, some states insist to curb international efforts aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons, similar to the boycott of the negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that were held at the United Nations last year. All of these developments lead us to question the seriousness of some Parties to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, meanwhile same countries call for tightening the non-proliferation system towards parties that they consider threatening to their strategic interests, which deprives these calls from credibility and may even motivate some countries to possess this destructive weapon in an attempt to depart the circle of targeting.
In confronting all of these challenges, Egypt stresses the importance of complying with the text and sprit of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We are gravely concerned that despite forty-eight years have elapsed since the NPT has entered into force and the legal obligation contained in Article VI calling nuclear weapon States to pursue nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapons continue to exist worldwide, thereby undermining international peace and security and increasing the sources of tension and instability throughout the world in a volatile international landscape already facing challenges and risks in different regions.
This undermining of the credibility of the treaty is a serious issue whose responsibility is attributed to the nuclear states who are keen to enforce this discriminatory status of the treaty in a manner that deprives it from moral grounds to seek to tighten the non-proliferation system.
The notion put forward intermittently by nuclear weapons States that the international security environment needs to be conducive to engage in a rigorous process of disarmament is, in our view, unconvincing and a reverse of logic. It is the very process of disarmament that will create a favorable global security environment. Without it, the world will continue to be gripped with insecurity, risk, and fear.
Nuclear disarmament remains a legal obligation that should not be associated with political assessments. Accordingly, Egypt calls on the nuclear weapon States to shoulder their responsibility to accomplish, without further delay, the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in compliance with their legal commitments under the NPT, which has not been fulfilled until now in a manner which leads to suspicions of non-compliance to the provisions of the treaty.
It is precisely for this reason that nuclear disarmament remains the highest priority for Egypt in the CD. We seek global, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament. I would like to mention in this regard the increasing understanding by the international community to the severe humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons as reflected in the outcomes of the conferences held in Norway, Mexico, and Austria and which contributed to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Egypt welcomes the adoption of the Treaty and looks forward to continued efforts in eliminating nuclear weapons globally with a view to eradicating the risks it poses.
In this regard, Egypt supports the commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices (FMCT). It is Egypt’s view that a future FMCT necessitates the inclusion of stockpiles of weapon usable materials to ensure that it serves nuclear disarmament and not remain another instrument desired to sustain imbalances of the status quo and to limit concentration on non-proliferation issues.
The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is confronted with substantial and increasing challenges that are unprecedented. We are seriously concerned with the possible erosion of the treaty’s credibility. Undoubtedly, the non-compliance of some State Parties with some of its legal commitments remains at the heart of this challenge, including; the non-implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments; the readiness by some nuclear weapon States to cooperate in the nuclear field with States non-Party to the NPT; and the attempts by some State Parties to promote unilateral and plurilateral measures that hinder the fullest possible cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy which remains one of the main pillars of the Treaty.
Equally important, the inability of the international community to achieve the universality of the NPT until now has impacted the treaty negatively. The continued non adherence of a few states to the NPT has questioned whether the NPT will be able to achieve its objectives. Egypt stresses the urgency and importance of the early realization of universal adherence to the NPT and calls upon all States non-party to the NPT to accede immediately to the Treaty as non-nuclear weapon States. We notice the readiness of some states parties to protect the interests of non-states parties, and readiness to obstruct a review mechanism of the treaty guided by overriding political considerations that depart from the purposes and objectives of the treaty. This trend can heavily discredit the treaty.
The Middle East is among the hotbeds of regional and global instability, and this is further worsened by the existence of a state non-party to the treaty. Thus, we recall that the 1995, 2000, and 2010 NPT Review Conferences reaffirmed the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, with a view to achieving peace, stability, and security to all nations of the region. It is a source of regret that some states parties adopt positions in multilateral fora that are departing from and non-compliant to the commitments that these countries took upon themselves in this regard.
The Middle East has witnessed in recent years serious political and security developments which warrants from all states of the region and the international community to address these threats with all seriousness and decisiveness. The establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East remains at the forefront of necessary steps to preserve the region’s security and its people. Egypt has been at the forefront calling to achieve this objective, emanating from its deep conviction that the path to security in the Middle East must be based on collective security, rather than selective security in a manner that is beneficial to all states of the region.
The issue of the WMD free zone in the Middle East has progressively leaped, and rightly so, to the forefront of much of the discourse within NPT meetings to an extent that progress on this issue, or lack thereof, have dictated the outcomes of Review Conferences. It is highly disappointing therefore, to see efforts to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East being thwarted by a very small number of states, as in the previous Review Conference in 2015.
We believe the establishment of a WMD free zone in the Middle East should be addressed dynamically in the lead up to the 2020 NPT Review Conference, not only on principled and substantive grounds, but more prominently, because the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East was an essential element of the outcome of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and on the basis of which the NPT was indefinitely extended. It is unfortunate that despite the adoption of the Resolution on the Middle East 23 years ago, we do not detect any practical steps to implement this resolution and achieve progress in establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
We only detect unjustified and unacceptable indifference to implement it and observe attempts to obstruct initiatives aimed at achieving that objective in spite of the objectivity of these initiatives that base themselves upon dialogue and consensus in decision making or procedures. In this regard, we stress the special responsibility of the three co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution to implement the 1995 Resolution and cautions that any further delay to implement the Resolution could lead, once again, to complicate the review process of the NPT, a scenario which my country will work diligently to avoid. Egypt will lend its hand to any party that is willing to respect previously adopted decisions of the review conferences in order to preserve the credibility of the NPT and its review process.
Egypt stresses its continued willingness to participate constructively and actively in the CD and looks forward to contribute effectively in the different meetings on the disarmament agenda this year, including the convening of the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in New York in May.
The future of the UN multilateral disarmament machinery can only be effective if states uphold and endorse the purposes and objectives of disarmament. Global challenges necessitate global cooperation more than ever, and if we are to achieve a more peaceful and secure world, we will need to elevate notions of collectivity and partnership above self-interest. Egypt’s diplomatic efforts will continue to be geared to achieving this vision.