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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the Fourth Session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction

2023-11-13 13:00

Mr. President, 

China welcomes the successful convening of the fourth session of the conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We believe that under your leadership and facilitation, the conference will achieve its expected objectives. 

Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have been a major factor causing a trust deficit in the Middle East, undermining regional peace and stability. China supports the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other WMDs and believes that this move will help curb the proliferation of WMDs, safeguard the authority and effectiveness of international non-proliferation regime, and reduce the risk of an arms race and conflict, thereby providing an important mechanism for the maintenance of long-term regional peace and security.

There have been three successful sessions of this conference. This session is taking place at a time when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is intensifying. China is concerned about flagrant violations of the basic norms governing international relations. It pains to see massive civilian casualties on both sides and it is heart-wrenching to witness the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Violence cannot bring true security. The use of force will not create lasting peace. Integral to establishing a peace mechanism in the Middle East, given the current context, the international community should make greater efforts to support the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, which is of great urgency and relevance in facilitating reconciliation and cooperation among regional countries in the Middle East and advancing the Middle East peace process.

Mr. President, 

Peace and security in the Middle East bear on not only the interests of regional states, but also global stability. In response to the current global and regional security dilemma, China maintains that the international community should adhere to the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, insist on building a balanced, effective, and sustainable international security architecture, and adhere to a new path to security that features dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliances, and win-win over zero-sum. It is China's wisdom and approach to eliminating the root causes of international conflicts and achieving durable stability and security in the region.

The Middle East question, with its intertwined historical and practical contradictions, cannot be resolved overnight. It requires all parties to uphold the concept of common security, adhere to the principle of indivisibility of security, and gradually shape a favorable political and diplomatic atmosphere. Countries in the region should strengthen their solidarity and coordination and forge mutual trust and consensus. Certain country outside the region should abandon their narrow geopolitical interests and political manipulation, stop deliberately provoking confrontation in the region, and make practical contributions to the maintenance of regional security.

Maintaining the authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime is crucial to the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. The countries of the region concerned should accede to international conventions such as the NPT, CWC, and BWC as soon as possible and should strictly abide by their treaty obligations. Recently, what the Israeli officials said about the use of nuclear weapons in the Gaza Strip has caused an uproar. China was shocked by statements of this kind and expressed its concern. This kind of statements is universally condemned. It is extremely irresponsible and disturbing. Such statements run counter to the international consensus that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought, on contrary to the international spirit of establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, and go against the overwhelming international call to deescalate, cease hostilities, and protect civilians. We urge Israeli officials to retract these statements, and urge Israel to accede to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as a non-nuclear weapon state as soon as possible and to place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.

Mr. President, 

China firmly commits to a nuclear strategy of self-defense. Since the first day of possession of nuclear weapons, China has pledged not to use nuclear weapons first at any time or under any circumstances, and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon free zones unconditionally. It is the only NWS to have made the above commitments. China advocates that pending the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons states should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon free zones. China calls on the Conference on Disarmament to begin work as soon as possible on negotiating a legal instrument of negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states.

China has always supported international efforts to establish nuclear weapon free zones, signed and ratified all protocols to nuclear weapon free zone treaties that are open for signature, and has strictly fulfilled its relevant obligations. China will continue to practically contribute to the maintenance of peace, security, and stability in the Middle East region, and is ready to join others to forge consensus at this conference and to inject new impetus to the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. 

I thank you, Mr. President.

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