Arab Republic of Egypt
Resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
September 23 ,2016
Egypt’s commitment to the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime is unwavering. For decades, nuclear disarmament has received preeminencein Egyptian diplomacy andremained a significant priority among members of the Non-Aligned Movement. This interest is embedded in our longstanding belief that nuclear weapons present a grave threat to international peace and security, and necessitates collective global action to eliminate them.
It is within this context that I take the floor to express our discontent and dissatisfaction with the resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This resolution is substantively flawed and ill-suited to be addressed in the Security Council. It’s contribution to the nuclear disarmament regime is minimal and ineffective. Rather than strengtheningthis regime, the resolution squanders the opportunity to emphasize the urgency to advance nuclear disarmament. We regret that this resolution was tabled without incorporating several essential amendments our delegation had suggested.
Let me address sevenspecific concerns my delegation has with this resolution:
First; the Security Council is not the appropriate forum to address the CTBT in the way this resolution attempts to do. Developments and progress related to the treaty are being regularly examined by the Preparatory Commission and the Provisional Technical Secretariat. The intrusion of the Security Council in the dynamics and technicalities of the CTBT creates unnecessary duality and generates an atmosphere unfavorable for inclusivedeliberation. All State Parties and Signatories to the CTBT ought to be fully engaged in any discussion of relevance to the CTBT, its technical bodies, and verification regime. It should not be exclusive to members of the Security Council.
Second; the resolution fails to highlight the centrality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime. Despite a modest reference in its preamble section, the NPT is, curiously, unfeatured in the operative section of the resolution and is completely overlooked despite being the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime. Whereas the resolution encourages the promotion of the universality of the CTBT, surprisingly it makes no reference whatsoever to the exigency of achieving the universality of the NPT. Why is there eagerness to achieve the universality of the CTBT, but complete silence when it comes to the NPT?
We call upon all NPT member states to promote, both promptly and actively, the universality of the NPT. As the key foundation of the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime, the NPT deserves greater preeminence.
Third; it is unusual, if not remarkable, that a resolution addressing the CTBT fails to adequately address the urgency and criticality of concrete steps towards achieving nuclear disarmament. While nuclear testing should certainly be ceased in its entirety, as the Treaty clearly advocates, the international community has a much more pressing obligation and responsibility to advance nuclear disarmament. If the Council is genuinely concerned with the perils of nuclear weapons and their potential use or testing, it would only be logically coherent to treat the cause and not just the symptom. By exclusivelyaddressing nuclear testing in this resolution, the Council bypasses the central point thatthe continued possession of nuclear weaponsin itself and the constant prolongationby those that possess them to engage in meaningful disarmament, iswhat challenges, if not threatens, global stability.
This resolution, inappropriately,makes no referenceto the obligationstipulated in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)calling on Nuclear Weapon Statesto achieve nuclear disarmament. Itturns a blind eye to the Final Outcome Documents of the NPT Review Conferences of 1995, 2000, 2010 including thethirteen practical steps. In fact, the resolutiondoes not adequately respond to the CTBT’s own preamble section, which stressedthe “need for continued systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Nuclear disarmament therefore, should have been the priority in this resolution. It should have expressed its unequivocal rejection of the modernizationof stockpiles of nuclear weapons by Nuclear Weapon Statesand the role they devote to nuclear weapons in their strategic doctrines. Let me take this opportunity therefore, to categorically reject the notion put forth by some States that nuclear stockpile maintenance is consistent with NPT objectives. It is not. The maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons runs contrary to the legal obligation and spirit of the NPT which explicitly calls for effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. The total elimination of nuclear weaponsis the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of these weapons.
Consequently, the fact that nuclear disarmament is practically absent from this resolution, severely undermines its credibility and erodes its effectiveness. It sends a wrong message to the international community that the Security Council is selective, biased, and engaged in a “cherry-picking” approach when it comes to the global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferationregime. The message this resolution sends is: Testing no, possession and modernization of stockpiles yes.
Fourth; this resolution inequitably and unreasonably puts those that possess nuclear weapons with those that don’t on equal footing. The resolution calls on states to refrain from conducting any nuclear weapon test explosions and urges all States that have either not signed or not ratified the CTBT, particularly the eight remaining Annex II States, to do so without delay.The resolution ought to have placed special responsibility on Nuclear Weapon States and States non-party to the NPT. To equate States that are party to the NPTwith those that are not, while simultaneously calling on both category of States to refrain from nuclear testing is an unconvincing argument to make. Rationally, the onus rests chiefly on those States that actually possess the capability to conduct these nuclear tests.
Fifth;the resolution’s intrusive nature in the work of the Preparatory Commission and the Provisional Technical Secretariat is counterproductive. The Secretariat is, and should remain, a State-driven body that should solely determine its direction and preserve its prerogative to take decisions independently without external interference. The Security Council should not be in a position to meddle in the work of the Secretariat and intrude in the practice of reporting it conducts. It is up to the Preparatory Commissionto decide what is conducive and favorableto its work, in accordance with the organizations prioritiesand aspirations of its member-states. This resolution sets an unwelcome precedent and may be perceived as an encroachment by the Security Councilon the independent standing of international organizations and treaty bodies, dictatingcertain procedures and measures to be undertaken, despite not being endorsed by the collective will of its member states.
Sixth;progress pertaining to the verification regime of the CTBT falls within the prerogative of the Preparatory Commission.According to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), 85% of the verification regime has been successfully provisionally constructed. Progress in all three pillars of the regime, namely the International Monitoring System (IMS), the International Data Center (IDC), and on-site inspection is noted.The provisional nature of this regime should be maintained, in accordance with the treaty provisions, and its official operational status launched upon the Treaty’s entry into force.
The resolution also reflects a puzzling dilemma. While some States express enthusiasm here in the Security Council towards the urgency of completion of the verification regime, they contradictorily do not shoulder their responsibility by ratifying the CTBT and their legislative branch repeatedly refuses to ratify the Treaty, thereby inhibiting the possibility that the verification regime would come to fruition. We hope there is an explanation to this dichotomy of behavior and contradicting messages.
Despite these serious reservations regarding this highly deficient resolution, we have nonetheless, decided to abstain. Egypt was among the first countries that negotiated and signed the CTBT. We fully support the purpose and objectives of the treaty. We seek a world free of nuclear weapons, including nuclear testing. We swiftly and unequivocally condemn those that conduct nuclear tests, and we remain committed to the universality of the NPT and the establishment of a Zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Egypt has been, and will continue to be, a staunch advocate of a robust nuclear nonproliferation regime that is geared towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
I thank you.