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Written Statement by the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Discussion on Nuclear Weapons at the First Committee of the 76th Session of the UNGA

2021-10-22 12:05

Mr. Chairman,

The global strategic security situation is undergoing profound and complex adjustment, and the international nuclear disarmament regime is facing unprecedented challenges. The US has been constantly hyping up major-power competition, strengthening military alliances, making significant investment in upgrading its nuclear triad, and developing and deploying low-yield nuclear weapons. It also seeks to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia-Pacific and Europe, develops and deploys global missile defense system, and plans to deploy anti-missile interceptors in outer space, in the pursuit of absolute advantages in both offensive and defensive military capabilities. All these negative moves have posed severe threats to regional security, undermined global strategic balance and stability, and seriously hindered global nuclear disarmament process.

Under the current circumstances, the international community should jointly promote the international nuclear disarmament process, maintain global strategic stability, and foster a community of universal security with a shared future for humankind. 

First, we should continue to uphold the international consensus on nuclear disarmament. Nuclear disarmament should be a fair and reasonable process of gradual and balanced reduction on the basis of maintaining global strategic stability and undiminished security for all. The US and Russia, as the two largest nuclear-weapon states, should further substantially reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable, irreversible and legally-binding manner in line with consensus reached by the international community, with the view to creating the conditions for realizing complete and thorough nuclear disarmament. The US should conduct the nuclear posture review in a responsible manner, stop provoking major-power confrontation, redress its wrong moves to seek overwhelming military advantages, abandon development or deployment of the global missile defense system, and refrain from deploying intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, so as to contribute its share to preventing nuclear arms races and maintaining strategic stability.

Second, we should uphold the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The international community should take the 10th Review Conference of the NPT as an opportunity to promote nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy as the three pillars of the NPT, honor the commitments and consensus of previous review conferences, facilitate political and diplomatic settlement of regional nuclear hot-spot issues, and promote international cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We should support the development of the CTBT verification system, promote the entry into force of the Treaty as early as possible, and honor the moratorium on nuclear tests before the Treaty’s entry into force. We should support the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) in accordance with the mandate contained in the Shannon Report (CD/1299), on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced Program of Work. We should firmly uphold the authority and effectiveness of the CD, the First Committee of the UNGA and other multilateral arms control mechanisms, and refrain from resorting to any exclusive cliques that may undermine their authority.

Third, we should diminish the role of nuclear weapons in national security doctrines. Nuclear-weapon states should reaffirm that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, abandon nuclear deterrence policies based on the first-use of nuclear weapons, conclude a multilateral treaty on mutual no-first-use of nuclear weapons, provide unconditional negative and positive security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon states, and negotiate an international legally-binding instrument in this regard. In addition, nuclear-weapon states should reaffirm that they will not target nuclear weapons at any State, in order to enhance strategic mutual trust. Relevant nuclear-weapon states should put an end to the policies and practices of nuclear umbrella and nuclear sharing, and withdraw all nuclear weapons deployed in other countries.

Fourth, we should take a holistic approach to address new factors affecting strategic stability. The military applications of emerging technologies related to outer space, cyberspace, artificial intelligence and other areas have brought increasing implications on strategic stability. The international community should carry out in-depth studies on such implications and formulate relevant international rules. At the same time, unnecessary obstacles to peaceful uses and international cooperation should be avoided to ensure that developing countries have legitimate access to the dividends of technological development.

Mr. Chairman,

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are interconnected. China wishes to remind all parties that the decision of the US, the UK and Australia to develop cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines flagrantly violates the spirit of NPT. It directly involves the transfer of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon State, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under its current safeguards system, is unable to effectively verify whether Australia will divert HEU to the production of nuclear weapons. The act of the three countries have posed direct risks of nuclear proliferation. Moreover, what the US and the UK have done once again reveals their “double standards” approach all along on nuclear export, and will stimulate others to follow suit. It will complicate the political and diplomatic settlement of regional nuclear hot-spot issues by bringing in new factors, and inflict persistent damages on the international non-proliferation regime. The international community should urge the three countries to change course and put an end to such an irresponsible behavior.

China is seriously concerned about the collision incident of a US nuclear submarine taking place in early October in the South China Sea. It took the US side five days to come up with a vague statement, which made no reference to whether the accident has caused nuclear leakage or nuclear safety concern. Such lack of transparency on the US side could lead to misunderstanding and miscalculation. China and other countries surrounding the South China Sea cannot help but ask what truly happened and question the US intention. The US side should take concerns of all parties in a serious manner, adopt a responsible attitude, and give a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible.

Mr. Chairman,

China is committed to the path of peaceful development and the nuclear strategy of self-defense. China has all along advocated complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, adhered to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and made a clear commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China is the only nuclear-weapon state that has made and honored such commitments. China has never deployed nuclear weapons abroad, never participated in any form of nuclear arms race, and has always kept its nuclear force at the minimum level required for national security. These measures per se are important contributions to global peace and security. 

China has taken an active part in the P5 cooperation. China is actively promoting the P5 to issue a joint statement on the prevention of nuclear war, in which the formula that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” will be reaffirmed. The second phase of the P5 Working Group on the Glossary of Key Nuclear Terms led by China has yielded substantive results. China has actively coordinated the restart of dialogues between P5 and ASEAN countries on the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. China is also engaged in discussions with the other P4 on nuclear policies and doctrines, reduction of strategic risks, FMCT, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, etc. with the aim of submitting tangible results to the tenth NPT review conference. As the international security situation is getting more and more complex, China holds the view that the P5 should continue dialogue and cooperation on all major issues concerning strategic stability. 

China supports international nuclear disarmament with concrete actions. China takes an active part in the NPT review process and will submit an updated version of its national report. China supports the purposes and objectives of the CTBT, honors its commitment to the moratorium on nuclear tests, and is committed to promoting the early entry into force of the Treaty. As the second largest contributor to the CTBT Prepcom, China supports the development of the International Monitoring System, and has built ten CTBT monitoring stations and one radionuclide lab, among which five certified stations have started real-time data transmission, thus making a positive contribution to the preparation of treaty compliance. China believes full and effective verification measures are important technical guarantee for achieving the ultimate goal of complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and will continue to take an active part in the work of the new UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to consider the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I wish to stress once again that China is committed to working hand in hand with the rest of the international community to make unremitting efforts towards achieving the lofty goal of complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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