Seventy-Seventh Session of the UN General Assembly First Committee in New York

Statement on Nuclear Weapons

Delivered by H.E. Robert in den Bosch, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament and Ambassador at large

Mr. Chairman, in addition to the statement delivered by the European Union, the Netherlands would like to make the following remarks in its national capacity.

‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’ These words embody a common-sense principle. One that leads inevitably to two other common-sense principles: That the only road forward is the one towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. And that the only vehicle that can get us there is consensus. 

We regret that the 10th NPT Review Conference could not reach consensus on a substantive final document.  We never expected it to be easy: the security situation has dramatically deteriorated since February 24th. The arms control architecture is unravelling with the demise of the INF and the Open Skies Treaties. Negotiations on a return to the JCPOA seem in limbo. The risk of nuclear conflict is larger than it ever was since the Cuban missile crisis due to the dangerous and irresponsible Russian nuclear rhetoric. Furthermore, the Russian attacks on and seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities pose serious threats to nuclear safety and security.  

Against this background, a positive outcome of the NPT Review Conference would have sent a strong signal.

Chair, this did not materialize, but we  believe we should continue the substantive discussions we had at the Review Conference in August. 190 State parties remain deeply committed and were willing to compromise for the sake of the NPT and multilateralism in general.

The NPT remains the cornerstone of the international architecture for disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The Netherlands, as coordinator of the cross-regional Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, will continue to build bridges and search for common ground.

But our mission is under pressure. All nations need to return to responsible behaviour, including in their messaging. We need tangible progress on nuclear disarmament and greater transparency and enhanced reporting on nuclear arsenals as well as an inclusive dialogue on nuclear doctrines. Nuclear risk reduction should be an integral part of nuclear policy, posture and practice, without any intention of substituting disarmament efforts. The Nuclear Weapon states share a special responsibility for reaching these objectives.

In addition, the current nuclear safety, security and safeguards risks are completely unacceptable. Therefore, we must all reaffirm and strengthen the IAEA’s essential role regarding safeguards and the safe and secure peaceful uses of nuclear technology. It can only do its work properly with both a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and an Additional Protocol in place.

Chair, let me underline the importance of improving access to nuclear energy, science and technology for all States Parties. The Netherlands welcomes the concrete proposals connecting the peaceful uses of nuclear technology to the SDGs.

Furthermore, we support pragmatic, inclusive measures including the universalization of the NPT, entry into force of the CTBT and conclusion of a FMCT. The groundwork has already been done, there is no valid reason to block the start of negotiations.

Mr. Chairman, we are extremely concerned by Iran’s activities with regard to enlarging its stockpiles of uranium and expanding its enrichment capacity, without any plausible justification. Furthermore, it has ended the oversight that existed under the JCPOA. Apart from the JCPOA we strongly urge Iran to clarify the outstanding safeguards questions and cooperate in good faith with the IAEA.

Finally, we are deeply concerned about the escalation of DPRK’s missile tests  and its growing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. We strongly condemn these activities, as they pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.

Ultimately, we want to eliminate nuclear weapons, and as we work towards that goal we will need interim measures. Measures like strong safety standards, nuclear risk reduction, return to the norm of non-use of nuclear weapons, and nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Let us profit from initiatives such as NPDI, the Stockholm Initiative, the CEND Initiative, the IPNDV and the GGE on disarmament verification. On the basis of a NPDI-proposal, the parties to the NPT approved a working group on examining the effectiveness and transparency of the review cycle. We have to seize this opportunity and assure that it will deliver concrete, actionable recommendations for the NPT PrepCom next year. We call upon all States Parties to engage in discussions at an early stage.

We also emphasize the need for disarmament initiatives that recognize the importance of inclusivity and diversity, especially through equal, full and effective participation of women and youth.

We need to create a safer world, free from the risk of nuclear warfare. Now more than ever. To paraphrase Dag Hammarskjöld: “this may not take us to heaven, but it will save us from hell”.

Thank you Chair.