National Statement at 10th NPT Review Conference
News01 August 2022
Allow me first to offer my congratulations on your election as President of this Conference. I can assure you of my delegation’s full support in your efforts to achieve a positive outcome.
I am proud to address you today as Ireland’s first woman Head of Delegation to an NPT Review Conference. I am pleased that that this Review Cycle is the first to substantively address gender perspectives and I hope this will be comprehensively reflected in the outcome.
There is no escaping the fact that our Conference takes place at a dark moment. The world faces heightened nuclear danger. The Russian Federation – a Nuclear Weapon State, a depository state of this very Treaty – has made alarming nuclear threats, and is engaged in a war of aggression against another State Party to this Treaty. Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, its nuclear rhetoric, and its reckless military actions in and near civilian nuclear facilities, threaten all three pillars of the NPT. Ireland reiterates our strongest support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
I recall that in January this year, the five Nuclear Weapon States, including Russia, declared ‘that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’ It is deeply regrettable that Russia’s actions have called into question its ongoing commitment to this declaration.
It is our collective responsibility at this Review Conference to agree how we can move forward together. To do this, we must honestly acknowledge the absence of concrete progress on nuclear disarmament since the last Review Conference. Article VI of the NPT, together with our existing commitments, provide the framework to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. They must be honoured, and must be implemented.
Regrettably, since the last Review Conference, we have seen moves towards a greater reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines. Nuclear Weapon States are making qualitative improvements to their weapons systems. Nuclear arsenals are increasing in numbers and diversity. Reductions in transparency increase the risk of escalation and miscalculation. These trends, together with the current heightened nuclear risks, reinforce the need to urgently implement the unequivocal undertaking of the Nuclear Weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
Despite the current difficult context, we reiterate that disarmament and effective arms control is more vital than ever. Ireland calls for this Conference to agree immediate actions, including on nuclear risk reduction, and practical measures to facilitate concrete reductions of nuclear weapons. Specific recommendations are set out in our working papers during the Review Cycle.
The current context also gives us pause to consider the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Any use of nuclear weapons would have immediate and long-term consequences, creating a devastating humanitarian crisis and emergency significantly beyond the response capacity of States or international organisations. I welcome the adoption of the Vienna Declaration of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which sends a clear message of alarm and dismay at threats to use nuclear weapons, and unequivocally condemns “any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” The outcome of the Vienna meeting successfully demonstrated the value of the TPNW for its States parties as a pathway to fulfilling Article VI obligations. The TPNW is fully compatible with and complements the NPT. We hope to see the positive contribution of the TPNW reflected in the outcome document of this meeting.
Ireland is deeply concerned about rising proliferation challenges. Ireland attaches equal importance to the non-proliferation provisions of the Treaty and has demonstrated this, including through our chairmanship of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Since the last Review Conference, we witnessed the successful conclusion and, for a time, implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It was deeply regrettable that the US left the agreement. It was also deeply regrettable that Iran began to take steps that, today, raise very serious proliferation concerns. Full implementation by Iran of the JCPoA, including full cooperation with the IAEA on monitoring and verification, together with resolving outstanding safeguards issues, is the only way for the international community to have confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Ireland considers the nuclear-related activities by the DPRK as a matter of utmost concern. It is long past time for DPRK to take concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to end its other WMD and ballistic missile programmes. DPRK must return to compliance with the NPT.
Ireland commends the unique and indispensable role of the IAEA across the areas of nuclear energy, safety and security, and in the implementation of the NPT. Ireland strongly supports the universal adherence to the Additional Protocol, and considers that the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol constitute the current verification standard under the NPT. It is imperative that, at this Review Conference, we seize the opportunity to strengthen the safeguards system, which underpins the effective implementation of this Treaty.
Finally, Ireland underscores the inalienable right of all parties to the NPT to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and recognises that the IAEA’s seven pillars of nuclear safety and security are vital enablers of this right.
In the Cold War era, the world regularly stood on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. With the adoption of the NPT, the international community took a decisive step back from the abyss. I am proud of Ireland’s role in the creation of the NPT, a major contribution of international peace and security. The NPT reminds us that even in the most dangerous of times, progress is not only needed but is possible. All States Parties have an obligation to work for a safer world for current and future generations; a world that does not include the spectre of nuclear weapons. I can assure you, President, Ireland is ready to play our part.