Security Council Briefing: Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

Statement by His Excellency Mr. Mark Rutte,
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

New York, 26 September 2018

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

This year, there have been several occasions when weapons of mass destruction have endangered our security, undermined international stability and caused terrible suffering. So 2018 has made the importance of non-proliferation abundantly clear. I agree with you, Mr. President, that as politicians we are first and foremost responsible to keep our citizens safe. And I believe multilateral institutions play a major role where this issue is concerned.

As I will say in my address to the General Assembly later today, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has always championed, and will continue to champion, the rules-based international order and multilateral cooperation – especially on security matters and other issues of shared concern. This multilateral cooperation requires active support from us all. Including – and even especially – on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. 

We should acknowledge the significant achievements that have been made in controlling these weapons. For fifty years now, the Non-Proliferation Treaty has kept the number of nuclear weapon posessors under ten. We can only imagine how much conflict, instability and violence this has prevented. So I am encouraged that the US, Russian and British foreign ministers have underlined their continuing support for and commitment to the NPT, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. 

We’ve seen some positive steps on non-proliferation this year in relation to North Korea. The ultimate goal of our joint efforts is to ensure that North Korea abandons its nuclear ballistic missile capabilities and its programmes on weapons of mass destruction. It should do this in a comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible manner. We welcome the efforts you, Mr/Madam President are personally making to achieve a nuclear weapon free Korean peninsula. For we know that this problem can only be resolved peacefully. As chair of the Sanctions Committee, the Netherlands is doing everything it can to ensure that all nations fully implement the sanctions, so as to keep up the pressure on North Korea to comply with its international obligations. 

The Kingdom of the Netherlands believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, endorsed by Security Council resolution 2231, remains a good example of how this Council and the international community can work hand in hand for non-proliferation. The International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded in twelve consecutive reports that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the deal. As long as this continues, we will also uphold our commitment to the deal. At the same time, we are concerned about Iran’s role in the region, its ballistic missile programme and its human rights record. In particular Iran’s support for Hezbollah, and the role Iran plays in Syria and Iraq and in the development of missiles by the Houthis in Yemen, remain serious concerns for the Netherlands. 
They need to be addressed.

Mr. President, the repeated use of chemical weapons is deeply alarming. It causes terrible human suffering and erodes the established international norm. There should be no impunity for any use of chemical weapons. Not for the large-scale attacks in Syria nor for the individual attacks in Malaysia and the UK. The same goes for the possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in Idlib.

All of us, both within and outside this Council, bear a responsibility. Because of the stalemate in this body, we have tasked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate and identify those responsible for the use of these weapons. We cannot sit back. We have to speak up, take action and firmly support the OPCW, so that perpetrators can be brought to justice. And we need to do this together. Indecisiveness by countries that claim to support the principles of disarmament and non-proliferation could ultimately have disastrous consequences.

With regard to the Salisbury attack, we reaffirm our confidence in the UK investigations. We welcome its bringing criminal charges as an important step towards justice. This bolsters our earlier conclusion: that it is essential to hold those responsible to account. 

Mr. President, 

To conclude: the devastating consequences of the use of weapons of mass destruction underline the urgent need to take action. The use of these weapons must never become the new normal. We must prevent impunity at all cost. 
A legal norm can only be effective if we uphold it. Together, as part of a multilateral effort.

Thank you. 

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