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Remarks by China's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation

(From Chinese Mission to the United Nations)

2024-03-18 16:32

Madam President,

I welcome Your Excellency presiding over this meeting, and thank Secretary-General Guterres and other briefers for their briefings.

The complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and the eventual establishment of a nuclear weapon free world are a shared aspiration of the international community. In today's world, the international security environment is undergoing a confluence of changes and turbulence with the Cold War mentality rearing its ugly head, while the risk of a nuclear arms race and a nuclear conflict is rising, and the issue of nuclear proliferation remains prominent. The road to nuclear disarmament remains long and arduous.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Security Initiative, emphasizing the need to adhere to the concept of a common, comprehensive, cooperative, and the sustainable security, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, respect the purposes and the principles of the UN Charter, attach importance to the legitimate security concerns of all countries, seek resolution of differences and disputes among countries by peaceful means of dialogue and consultation,  and the uphold integrated maintenance of security in both the traditional and non-traditional spheres. The GSI advocates adapting to the profoundly adjusted international landscape in solidarity and responding to complex and intertwined security challenges with a win-win mindset, with the aim of eliminating the root causes of international conflicts, improving global security governance, and promoting the international community’s joint efforts to instill more stability and certainty into our turbulent and changing times, so as to realize lasting peace and development in the world.

It is the common aspiration and the goal of the international community to build a universally secure world. All countries should join hands in practicing true multilateralism, adhere to the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, resolutely reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, continuously strengthen the authority and effectiveness of the NPT, and jointly promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

First, we should adhere to the concept of common security and shape a stable strategic security environment. President Xi has repeatedly made it clear that nuclear weapons must never be used and a nuclear war never fought, and that the international community should jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In 2022, the leaders of the five nuclear weapons states issued a joint statement on the prevention of a nuclear war, emphasizing that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. On that basis, nuclear weapons states should explore feasible measures to reduce strategic risks, negotiate and conclude a treaty on no first use of nuclear weapons against each other, and provide legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states. The countries concerned should reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national and collective security policies, renounce the deployment of a global missile defense system, refrain from seeking the deployment of intermediate range missiles in the Asia Pacific region or in Europe, and stop nuclear sharing and the so-called extended deterrence, so as to maintain the global strategic balance and stability through practical actions. Countries should continue to enhance the safety, reliability, and controllability of AI technology and ensure that relevant weapon systems are under human control at all times.

Second, we should take a rational and pragmatic approach and promote the international nuclear disarmament in a gradual and steady manner. Nuclear weapons states should abide by the consensus on nuclear disarmament reached at the NPT review conferences and make a public commitment not to seek permanent possession of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are a product of history and nuclear disarmament will naturally have a historical process. Demanding that countries with vastly different nuclear policies and number of nuclear weapons should assume the same level of nuclear disarmament and nuclear transparency obligations is not consistent with the logic of history and reality, nor is it in line with international consensus, and as such will only lead international nuclear disarmament to a dead end. The US allegations against China do not hold any water. It is precisely the US who should continue to fulfill its special and priority responsibility to further reduce the nuclear arsenals in a drastic and substantive manner, so as to create conditions for other nuclear weapons states to join the nuclear disarmament process, and play a lead role by example recognized by all parties, rather than self styled.

Third, we should commit to a political solution and safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Non-proliferation recent hotspot issues such as the ones regarding the Korean Peninsula and Iran have complex historical background and are closely linked to the continuity of the non-proliferation policies of a relevant country. All parties should adhere to political and diplomatic efforts to address each other's legitimate security concerns through dialogue and balanced solutions, and the United States should abandon the threat of use and the use of sanctions and pressure. The US nuclear submarine cooperation with certain countries carries a high risk of nuclear proliferation. It is a serious violation of the objective and the purpose of the NPT and undermines regional peace and stability. Therefore, corrective measures should be taken to rectify it and be brought back to the right path. Nuclear weapons states should sign and ratify the protocols to the nuclear weapon free zone treaties as soon as possible. China reaffirms its readiness to take the lead in signing the protocol to the Southeast Asian nuclear weapon free zone treaty and its firm support for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other WMDs.

Fourth, we should adhere to the original intent of common development and the pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Development is the cornerstone of peace and security. The international community should pay attention to the needs of developing countries for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, increase relevant financial and technical assistance, and help implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The IAEA should play a greater role in promoting cooperation and assistance in areas of nuclear power, applications of nuclear technology, and nuclear safety and security. Relevant countries should stop generalizing the concept of national security, stop drawing lines on the basis of ideology, and stop using under the pretext of non-proliferation export control as a political tool to suppress other countries and to pursue its agenda of decoupling and breaking up the supply chains.

Madam President,

China has always advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. 60 years ago, China solemnly declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time under any circumstances. This demonstrated the most transparent policy with the most responsible attitude. It has maintained a high degree of stability and continuity and is in itself a major contribution to the international nuclear disarmament. Regardless of changes in the international landscape, China always abides by this commitment, firmly pursues its nuclear strategy of self defense, refrains from participating in any form of nuclear arms race, continues to maintain its nuclear force at a minimal level required for its national security, and continues to work to promote international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Thank you, Madam President.

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