Statement by H.E. Thordur Aegir Oskarsson
Ambassador for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Deputy Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
General Assembly 76th session, 2 August 2022
10th NPT Review Conference
Sincere congratulations to you, Ambassador Zlauvinen, on taking formally the helm as the President of the 10th Review Conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I wish you and your team every success in leading this important and challenging conference to a successful conclusion and assure you of Iceland´s strong support.
Iceland has aligned itself with the statement delivered by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic countries. I will now make few remarks in my national capacity.
Iceland is strongly committed to work towards the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons and the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of our policy on nuclear disarmament. Any weakening of this important treaty is unacceptable and must be prevented.
The success of the NPT so far has been achieved through hard work. In the challenging security environment, we are now facing, with heightening tensions and increasing threat from nuclear proliferation, even stronger effort is required.
It is tragic that a member state, the Russian Federation, has undertaken a totally unprovoked and unjustifiable military action against Ukraine, another member state of this Treaty. This gross violation of international law and the UN Charter by the Russian Federation, undermining international peace and security, is utterly condemnable.
Iceland stands in absolute solidarity with Ukraine in its fight defending their people and its territorial integrity.
It is a matter of urgency that we reconfirm our commitment to the NPT and match words with deeds when it comes to living up to Article VI on nuclear disarmament, a special responsibility for the nuclear weapons states.
This urgency is seriously amplified by the threats of the Russian Federation to resort to nuclear weapons in its senseless war against Ukraine.
It is an understatement to say that we are meeting at a critical juncture, now when some of the key agreements that have underpinned decades of global disarmament efforts are seriously tested and undermined by non-compliance and rapidly growing security challenges. This must change.
The message from the Reykjavik Summit of the nuclear powers in 1986, “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” is as valid as ever. Let us truly make an effort to rekindle that spirit.
The most imminent, and regrettably, growing threat to the non-proliferation regime and global security is the rogue behaviour of the DPRK, which can only be solved by its return to compliance to its international obligations, in particular the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Arrangements.
Iceland supports the efforts on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the return of the United States. This important contribution to the rule-based non-proliferation regime is at risk and Iran´s failure to fully cooperate with the IAEA on its safeguards obligations is unacceptable
Iceland welcomed the extension of the New Start Treaty by the United States and Russia, an important contribution to global security. Now distrust reigns and the future prospects of nuclear disarmament are bleak. But recent statements of the leaders of the United States and Russia offer a glimmer of hope.
Present deterioration in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation should, however, not discourage us from strengthening critical supporting instruments; in particular the successful Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which success would be carved in stone with joining and ratification of all Annex II states. To begin negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty would be another factor in underpinning the existing non- proliferation arrangements
Apart from the disarmament aspect and difficulties regarding the proliferation pillar there are positive stories to take from the implementation of the Treaty. The great achievements in the peaceful application of nuclear technology and the increasing acceptance of the IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol are stand outs. However dark clouds on peaceful use are gathering in Ukraine where the invading Russian armed forces play fast and loose with the safety of nuclear energy facilities.
If there was ever an urgent need to apply more energy, more creative thinking and even more resources to the disarmament and arms control efforts in general, it is now.
Although no substitute for concrete nuclear disarmament, various practical proposals on risk reduction, verification, stronger safeguards and peaceful uses should be important steps to create trust and confidence, and thereby contribute to breaking the stalemate regarding the ultimate goal; a world without nuclear weapons. In that regard we attach strong expectations to proposals included in the Stockholm Initiative and the P5 declaration.
Iceland reaffirms its strong belief that every effort should be made to ensure that women have an active and equal role in disarmament processes in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325. To this end the NPT Review Conference could and should deliver.
In face of current adversity, I implore all participants to make this conference constructive and successful. A failure to deliver again would seriously undermine the relevance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to meet urgent disarmament challenges of the present and the future.
I thank you