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Statement of the Chinese Delegation at the Thematic Discussion on Nuclear Weapons at the First Committee of the 78th Session of the UNGA

2023-10-16 21:40

Mr. Chairman,

The complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and the ultimate establishment of a world free of nuclear weapons are the common and long-cherished wishes of all countries. Currently, the global security is undergoing the most profound changes since the end of the Cold War. Haunted by the Cold War mentality, some countries are obsessed with great power competition, seeking absolute strategic advantages, strengthening military alliances, provoking bloc confrontation, and promoting forward deployment of strategic forces such as nuclear weapons and missiles, which seriously undermines mutual trust among major countries as well as strategic balance and stability, hinder international nuclear disarmament efforts and increase the risk of a nuclear arms race and nuclear conflict.

The international community should practice true multilateralism, uphold a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, resolutely resist the cold war mentality and bloc confrontation, uphold the objectives and purposes of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), strengthen the universality, authority and effectiveness of the NPT, and jointly advance the international nuclear disarmament process. In this regard, China would like to propose the following:

Firstly, advancing the international nuclear disarmament process in a rational and pragmatic manner and follow the principles of “maintaining global strategic stability” and “undiminished security for all” in a just and reasonable manner of gradual reduction toward a downward balance. Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals must continue to fulfill their special and primary responsibilities for nuclear disarmament, and further significantly and substantially reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable, irreversible and legally binding manner. Requiring countries with vast differences in nuclear policies and quantities of nuclear weapons to undertake the same nuclear disarmament obligations is against the logic of history and reality, and will surely lead the international nuclear disarmament process to a dead end.

Secondly, striving to reduce strategic risks. Nuclear weapons cannot be used and nuclear war should never be fought. The international community should jointly oppose the threat or use of nuclear weapons. China calls on the five Nuclear-weapon States (P5) to make further efforts to reduce strategic risks on the basis of the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five nuclear-weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Nuclear Arms Races issued in January last year. At the same time, strategic risks reduction should be pursued in a gradual manner based on the level mutual trust among countries while ensuring undiminished security for all. The differences in terms of nuclear forces, nuclear strategies, and security environment among nuclear-weapon States should be taken into full consideration. Crisis prevention should take precedence over crisis management. We should reject the hypocritical approach of instigating confrontation and creating crisis on one hand, while calling for the reduction of nuclear risks and seeking so-called “guardrails” for crisis management on the other.

Third, reducing concretely the role of nuclear weapons in national and collective security doctrines. China calls on nuclear-weapon States to respond to the call of the UN Secretary-General to adopt the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons like China, negotiate and conclude a treaty on the mutual no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and advocates negotiations of an international legal instrument providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States at the Conference on Disarmament. China supports the effort to establish nuclear-weapon-free-zones, and calls on relevant countries to ratify the protocols to the relevant treaties on nuclear-weapon-free-zones at an early date. Relevant countries should cease the development and deployment of global missile defense system, refrain from deploying land-based intermediate range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, stop strengthening the so-called “extended deterrence”, withdraw nuclear weapons deployed overseas, give up the attempt to replicate “nuclear sharing” arrangements in the Asia Pacific.

Forth, upholding the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. We should take the new review cycle of the NPT as an opportunity to maintain the authority and effectiveness of NPT, uphold and bring into full play of role of multilateral arms control regimes such as the First Committee of UNGA, the Conference on Disarmament. Promote the early entry into force of CTBT and adhere to the moratorium of nuclear test. Support the Conference on Disarmament in conducting FMCT negotiations with the participation of all key parties on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work. The international community should firmly oppose the attempt of certain countries to put selfish geopolitical interests above nuclear non-proliferation obligations based on narrow geopolitical considerations, practicing double standards and pragmatism, conducting nuclear cooperation that run counter to the purposes and objectives of the NPT.

Fifth, giving balanced priority to security and development and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. At present, the global nuclear power development is gaining momentum, and the need of international community, especially developing countries, for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear technology are growing. China appeals to the international society to jointly implement the resolution adopted by UNGA entitled “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security”, increase financial and technical assistance to developing countries, promote inclusive sharing of the fruits of scientific and technological development, and ensure that peaceful uses of nuclear energy are not achieved at the cost of natural environment and human health, in order to contribute to the joint implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a responsible manner.

For a long time, China has been committed to the path of peaceful development and firmly pursued an independent foreign policy of peace and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. From the very day China successfully tested the nuclear weapon, it has been an advocate for the comprehensive prohibition and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and has been committed to no first use of nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances, and pledged unconditionally not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China’s nuclear forces are always kept at the minimum level required to safeguard national security and China does not seek nuclear parity or engage in nuclear arms race with any other nuclear-weapon state. China does not offer nuclear umbrella to or deploy nuclear weapons in other countries. China’s nuclear strategy and policy are of high degree of stability, continuity and predictability, which makes it unique and the most responsible and transparent among the five nuclear-weapon states.

Despite the baseless speculations of and accusations driven by ulterior motives by certain countries against China’s nuclear policy and nuclear force-building, China’s relevant policies and practices have remained consistent as the international community can see. China’s relevant policies and practices themselves have made significant contributions to the international nuclear disarmament process and will continue to do so in this regard.


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