Statement on behalf of the Delegation of the Republic of Latvia Thematic debate on Nuclear Weapons First Committee of the 74th UN General Assembly New York, 22 October 2019

04.11.2019. 11:22

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to congratulate you on your election as Chair of the First Committee and assure you of the full cooperation of the Latvian delegation. Latvia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and with the statement delivered by the Netherlands on behalf of the group of states. I would like to make the following remarks in a national capacity.

Mr. Chairman,

I recall being here and delivering a statement on nuclear weapons a year ago. Today I feel significant déjà vu. Global challenges have not eased. Moreover, new ones have appeared.

Let us not forget our common history. The rules-based international order developed in the last century has allowed us to live in by far the most peaceful time of all of human history. The security and stability, the economic prosperity and peace of mind afforded to humanity have been made possible because of the rules-based international order. The NPT is an indispensable element of it. Therefore, on the eve of the NPT Review Conference, when we enumerate the many issues that we, the global community, face, I remain confident that current challenges can be solved and that despite disagreements, a positive affirmation to relevance and significance of this Treaty will be made.

Mr. Chairman,

We have made commitments decades ago. Re-establishing a climate of trust and confidence and recapturing a sense of common purpose in disarmament fora are prerequisites to making progress on these commitments.

Some say trust is overrated. That this process should be interest based. Latvia believes that both elements need to be present for us to succeed. In the climate of distrust, one cannot hope for constructive engagement as suspicions and adversarial attitudes persist. Our common interest for a safer world should unite us and give impetus to explore the ways for rebuilding trust and confidence.

Mr. Chairman,

Latvia continues to believe that the right way forward lies in a progressive approach to nuclear disarmament. We do not operate in a political vacuum. If we want to succeed, nuclear disarmament efforts must consider the wider security context. 

Even after 50 years the NPT remains the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. It serves as a safeguard to the international rules based order amid the worrying build-up of incendiary nuclear rhetoric and intransparent behaviour on international arena.

The ambitious agenda we have set in 2010 has not lost any relevance today. Comprehensive implementation of the Action Plan is the correct path forward. The entry into force of the CTBT and negotiations on the FMCT are two long-standing necessities in this regard.

 “Step by step” approach requires constructive engagement by all. Both nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states, both NPT and non-NPT states have to be on board. This is a process where trust and interest are equally important.

Therefore, we welcome encouraging processes, such as the Initiative on Creating Environment for Nuclear Disarmament, aimed at fostering international dialogue on the way forward. Further development of multilateral nuclear disarmament verification initiatives is another step towards confidence building.

Mr. Chairman,

Honoring of commitments under existing treaties are essential. It proves the sincerity of our intentions and eases threat perceptions.  However, formal declarations are not enough. We have to distinguish between true sincerity and one that serves to mask hidden intentions.

We hear a lot about the importance of the INF Treaty in strengthening the Euro-Atlantic security for the past three decades. Let us not forget that it was possible due to constructive dialogue between the parties and full compliance with their Treaty obligations. However, Russia’s unwillingness to address concerns regarding its non-compliance continuously eroded trust and undermined the effectiveness of the treaty, leading to the demise of it.

Mr. Chairman,

Effective non-proliferation contributes to confidence and security and sets favorable ground for nuclear disarmament. A number of international bodies and platforms contribute to these efforts and for this deserve our highest respect and cooperation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards the implementation of non-proliferation obligations under the NPT as well as under its third pillar of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. I reiterate Latvia’s support for the comprehensive work of the Agency in monitoring and verification activities in Iran.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group that Latvia had a privilege to chair last year; the UN Security Council resolution 1540; the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism - all these platforms demonstrate that cooperation is possible if the political will and unity of interests exist.

Mr. Chairman,

Latvia reiterates support to ongoing diplomatic efforts towards full and verifiable denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In spite of positive signals last year, we regret that this year we continued to experience new ballistic missile tests performed by the DPRK. Latvia strongly condemns these provocative actions and continuously urges DPRK to return to full compliance with its international obligations, including the NPT and IAEA Safeguards.

Mr. Chairman,

To conclude, rebuilding trust and confidence that would allow for united multilateral action, are the main elements in ensuring sustained and successful disarmament and non-proliferation. It is our duty and responsibility to contribute to further progress, prosperity and security of the world, by ensuring that these elements receive serious attention, consideration and appropriate action.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.