Two months ago, at the NPT Review Conference, German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, spelled out the three most fundamental commitments with regard to nuclear weapons:
To prevent their spread
To ensure they are never used again
And to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
This task was never easy. But since February those efforts have come under even bigger strain due to Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.
Russia is trying to use nuclear threats to shield its attack on a country that has voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal when acceding the NPT. These threats also put into question Russia’s commitment to the 3 January declaration by the leaders of all five Nuclear Weapon States that reaffirmed the central principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
Moreover, the Russian occupation of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) violates the principles of the UN Charter, international law and the Statute of the IAEA.
Unfortunately, the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in August this year was not able to adopt a final outcome document because Russia blocked a consensus that all other NPT State parties were ready to join. Even if it had shortcomings for many NPT members, it would still have provided a good basis and in some areas even substantial progress to build upon our joint efforts in the next Review Cycle.
The RevCon is now behind us, but the task ahead stays the same: we have to reduce the risk of nuclear escalation and see how we can open up the diplomatic space for new steps on nuclear arms control and disarmament measures taking into account the current security environment. Together with our partners in the Stockholm Initiative and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, we have proposed many concrete steps that could serve as a first step towards as well as a catalyst for nuclear disarmament, such as nuclear risk reduction.
Progress on nuclear disarmament can also be achieved by developing transparent verification mechanisms. In 2022, Germany and France conducted a second NuDiVe exercise that showed that Nuclear weapon states and Non-nuclear weapon states can successfully work together and that progress on complex technical verification issues is possible.
Germany will also continue to contribute to a more conducive environment for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation diplomacy, which gives equal weight to countries of the North and South in the NPT community. Germany participated as an observer to the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW. Being an observer did not and will not modify our legal position on this Treaty. We do not deem the TPNW to be an appropriate framework to make tangible progress on nuclear disarmament and we will not accede to it. But we want to continue to improve dialogue on nuclear disarmament with all interested stake-holders, hold an honest debate on how we can realistically create the conditions necessary for concrete steps towards disarmament and explore cooperation, especially with regard to addressing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, victims’ assistance and environmental remediation.
26 years after the CTBT was opened for signature, the treaty has yet to enter into force. We renew our call on all states that have not yet signed and ratified the CTBT – in particular those listed under Annex II – to show leadership and do so without delay. On FMCT we have been biding time for far too long. It is high time to start negotiations. Differences on certain aspects must no longer serve as a pretext not to move forward. For all nuclear weapons states, declaring or maintaining existing moratoria on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons in the next NPT Review Cycle would be a substantial step, other courageous steps are also needed.
We also need to make progress on non-proliferation: North Korea’s continuous development of its illegal nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles arsenal constitutes a huge proliferation challenge and must be met with unity and resolve. We fully support the US and South Korean efforts to establish dialogue and negotiations with North Korea. We urge the DPRK to positively react to these initiatives. Only by embarking on a path towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, can North Korea regain the trust of the international community, expect sanctions relief and lay the ground for a sustainable peace in the region.
Germany remains fully committed to the implementation of UNSCR 2231. We strongly urge Iran to accept the viable deal available to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and to reverse all nuclear activities inconsistent with the JCPoA. Iran is obliged by law to clarify and resolve the open NPT safeguards issues. Germany calls upon Iran to ratify the IAEA's Additional Protocol and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We reiterate our strong call on Iran to refrain from activities with ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and to cease transfers of advanced weaponry to armed groups in particular. Germany condemns Iran’s supply of unstaffed combat aerial systems in support of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Mr Chair, the IAEA safeguards system is a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements along with the Additional Protocol constitute the current IAEA verification standard and we strongly support its universalisation.
We acknowledge that Russia and the United States, the two states with the largest nuclear arsenals, have signaled their commitment to the full implementation of the New START Treaty and to pursuing a follow-up agreement. Maintaining New START and further developing it into the future would preserve the most substantial nuclear arms control treaty apart from the NPT and reign in existing nuclear tensions. The NPT remains the cornerstone of the international nonproliferation and disarmament architecture. Only by continuing to work on its universalization and full implementation can we advance towards our common goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons.