Ladies and Gentlemen,
A world without nuclear weapons is a shared responsibility of each and every one of us. The German government entirely shares this goal.
We have thus always been actively and consistently engaged in pursuing nuclear disarmament based on a pragmatic step-by-step approach.
But the reality that we are faced with today is gloomy: Of course there have been important efforts and considerable reductions achieved between the United States and Russia since the end of the Cold War.
But new conflicts and security threats have arisen or aggravated, in particular over the course of last year: Most notably, the DPRK’s illegal quest for nuclear weapons is a real and grave threat to international peace and security.
It is obvious that conflicts like the DPRK crisis have cast a shadow over the prospects for progress on nuclear disarmament and make it even more difficult to convince states to engage in further reducing the number of nuclear warheads.
Let’s be clear: Nuclear disarmament cannot and should not ignore the current international security environment. But that should not prevent us from striving for further progress on nuclear disarmament.
The opposite is true: Concrete progress on nuclear disarmament, courageous reductions and bilateral nuclear arms control agreements can make a significant contribution to changing the security environment and thus making our world more peaceful.
The key question is how to achieve concrete, verifiable nuclear disarmament steps in a difficult, even conflict-ridden environment, not only in Asia but also in many other parts of the world?
As for Germany, our strong conviction is that we need concrete steps, supported and implemented by the nuclear weapons states.
Nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved if it does not take the existing security environment into account. Germany stands fully by its NATO commitments in this regard.
While we share the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, our path to nuclear disarmament seeks to promote concrete progress:
Together with a group of partners, Germany has been advocating a progressive step-by-step approach towards our common goal of effective, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament with the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non‑prolife-ration and disarmament architecture.
The next and most pressing step would consist of yet another substantial nuclear arms control agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, since these two states control more than 90 per cent of the global stockpiles.
In this respect, we welcome the fact that the United States and Russia met in Helsinki on 11 to 13 September to resume their strategic stability talks, including on pertinent arms control issues and further steps in the area of nuclear disarmament.
In parallel, we would need concrete steps on the multilateral disarmament agenda, including in particular the entry-into-force of the CTBT and negotiations of a Fissile Material (Cut off) Treaty”.
Political will provided, negotiations on an FMCT would be a logical next step on the multilateral nuclear disarmament agenda. That is why Germany, together with Canada and the Netherlands, co-sponsored a General Assembly resolution launching a new process of diplomatic efforts towards an FMCT last year. A high-level preparatory group started its work in July. Our aim is to circumvent the long stalemate in discussions of a FMCT in the CD in Geneva and to inject new momentum into this process.
We also see the need for a robust and credible verification regime for concrete nuclear disarmament measures which would be essential to establish the confidence which is necessary for sustainable progress in nuclear disarmament.
To address the fundamental underlying questions of trust/mistrust, a multilateral instrument on security assurances by the nuclear weapons’ states to the non-nuclear states would make sense as a complementary project. It would also be an important reassurance for the non-nuclear weapon states in the NPT who have voluntarily foregone a nuclear weapons’ option in exchange for civilian uses of nuclear energy and the pledge for nuclear disarmament.
The German Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), will therefore invite to an event on “Negative Security Assurances as practical steps towards the final goal of global zero” on 5 October 2017 at the premises of the German House.
In order to advance these and many other nuclear disarmament measures as outlined in the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan, Germany has been an active member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) and has been coordinating the NPDI since 2015.
German Foreign Minister Gabriel has just hosted, together with his Japanese colleague Taro Kono, an NPDI Ministerial meeting on 21 September here in NY to highlight the need for defending and strengthening the NPT, combatting nuclear proliferation and advancing concrete nuclear disarmament.
There is no doubt that the task ahead is complex and lengthy and that a step-by- step approach to nuclear disarmament cannot count on quick success.
Whether we have supported the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” or not: We should all be united in our commitment to achieve concrete and verifiable progress in nuclear disarmament and jointly try to overcome the current deadlock and bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons. I appeal to all of you to join our efforts. Thank you.