Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting, September 26, 2018
In the modern world, an efficient fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly important for global and regional stability and the reliable security of all states without exception. Constructive cooperation in this area is an important component of the efforts to shape a positive international agenda.
I think everybody agrees that the UN Security Council resolutions that outline specific measures against violations of non-proliferation must be strictly observed. Resolution 1540 remains the basis for this and contains obligations for the member states to take specific measures to prevent non-government agents from accessing weapons of mass destruction and their components. The UNSC decisions taken in pursuance of this resolution are particularly important as they include sanctions for handing over any types of weapons to terrorists. There have been incidents of such handovers and they must be thoroughly investigated.
Like fifty years ago, when the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was opened for signature, our country remains committed to the goal of ridding the world of the nuclear threat. This requires careful consideration of all factors that affect strategic stability and all countries with nuclear capability must take part in the negotiations. The ambitions of certain countries to ban nuclear weapons in isolation from the fundamental principles of the NPT will not be successful and will only create ambiguity in further approaches to non-proliferation.
Speaking about the NPT, I cannot omit to mention Resolution 2231, with which the UNSC approved the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. Unilateral withdrawal from this plan by the United States poses a serious threat to the non-proliferation regime. That is especially true because, as many before me stressed, Teheran is diligently complying with its obligations under the JCPOA, which is confirmed by the IAEA on a regular basis.
Russia believes that it is essential to preserve the JCPOA and we are currently working on this together with Iran, China and the European Union. Otherwise we may have to face growing tensions across the Middle East, which poses risks to regional stability and the non-proliferation regime.
Breakdown of the JCPOA would also be counterproductive for the current denuclearisation efforts on the Korean Peninsula, which we welcome and strongly support.
Other serious obstacles remain on the way to nuclear non-proliferation, by which I mean the US decision to postpone the CTBT's ratification indefinitely – perhaps forever – and the lack of progress in implementing the decisions of the NPT parties to establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East.
There are alarming trends in chemical disarmament, primarily due to the actions of a number of Western countries that are making new unproven chemical attack accusations against the Syrian authorities. We caution against new attacks on the territory of Syria under another staged pretext. That would be a gross violation of the UN Charter and would undermine the efforts to promote a political settlement in that long-suffering country.
The Syrian Government has destroyed its entire arsenal of chemical weapons in accordance with the Russian-US agreement of 2013, which is enshrined in the UN Security Council resolution and the OPCW's decisions. But terrorist groups still have chemical warfare agents. Terrorists know how to synthesise them and are setting up production labs. Intelligence agencies have long been warning about this, including US intelligence.
Russia has repeatedly proposed devising a comprehensive strategy to combat chemical terrorism. In 2017, the UN Security Council introduced a Russian-Chinese draft of a relevant resolution. It was not our fault that it was not even considered. On a broader scale, we submitted a draft Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism as early as March 2016, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Unfortunately, the work on these documents was artificially blocked – you all probably know by which countries. Nevertheless, our proposals still remain in force.
Meanwhile, the situation in the OPCW is deteriorating, with our Western colleagues attempting to impose on its Technical Secretariat far-fetched attributive functions, grossly violating the CWC and infringing on the competency of the UN Security Council.
At the same time, the groundless highly-likely-style Salisbury affair rhetoric is gaining traction. At the same time, the United Kingdom is stubbornly evading our repeated proposals of conducting a joint investigation, although this is part of its commitments under the CWC, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the 1965 Bilateral Consular Convention and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1959. So we wonder, if they do not want to cooperate, does it mean there is something to hide? Once again we urge London to establish a constructive dialogue with a view to establishing the truth.
The way events are unfolding suggests that nothing can be ruled out now – including provocations using biological weapons. Amid the attempts to manipulate the CWC status, I would like to caution against the temptation to use the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention for the same purposes. As a reminder, according to the convention, the right to initiate and conduct investigations belongs exclusively to the UN Security Council. No surrogates are provided for and therefore cannot be used.
I would like to remind you, incidentally, that we have repeatedly suggested making an arrangement for verifying BTWC compliance of all the parties. However, the United States rigidly blocked this proposal and eventually buried it.
This desire to keep their hands free is manifested in the demands that the BTWC regime is subjected to additional tests in connection with the buildup of military medical and biological activities, including in the post-Soviet space. We call for the renunciation of militarisation of healthcare.
Russia has consistently advocated the strengthening of the BTWC. We are implementing initiatives for this purpose, including mobile anti-epidemic teams for rapid response to biological emergencies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dialogue between Russia and the United States, the two largest nuclear powers, is of special importance for strengthening the WMD nonproliferation regime. It was our two states that were at the cradle of the common framework for multilateral cooperation to stop WMD from falling into the hands of non-state actors and to combat acts of nuclear terrorism.
We still consider this interaction to be of fundamental importance not only for Moscow and Washington, but for the entire international community. We do not want this cooperation to be sacrificed to short-term projects and opportunistic considerations.
On a solid foundation of the UN Charter, Russia is always open to honest cooperation between the five nuclear powers and with all other countries in the interests of strengthening global strategic stability. We hope that today's meeting of the UN Security Council, the key body for maintaining international peace and security, will help take a step in this direction. In this connection, we consider US President Donald Trump’s initiative to convene this meeting very timely.