1C: Thematic Debate

Statement by Norway in the thematic debate on Nuclear weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the UN General Assembly First Committee, 13 October 2021.

Nuclear Weapons

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It has served global security well for over 50 years. We must make all efforts to ensure that the tenth Review Conference will strengthen the Treaty. Obligations and previous commitments must be implemented, and polarisation must be overcome.   

Norway is part of the Stockholm Initiative for NPT and Nuclear Disarmament. This is a high-level initiative that gives concrete recommendations to promote nuclear disarmament. We have agreed on several actions, including on efforts for nuclear risk reduction. We hope that all NPT states parties will be able to support the recommendations from the Stockholm Initiative to the NPT Review Conference.


Norway gives high priority to developing credible multilateral solutions to verify future nuclear disarmament. We are encouraged to see that an increasing number of states are engaging substantively on this work.

In 2019, resolution 74/50 on Nuclear Disarmament Verification (NDV) was adopted with the support of 178 Member States. The resolution called for a new Group of Governmental Experts (GGE). This year, we are tabling, together with partners, a decision on nuclear disarmament verification to keep the topic on the agenda for UNGA 77. The decision also reflects the fact that due to the pandemic, the two GGE meetings planned for 2021 will be moved to 2023. The two meetings in 2022 will be conducted as planned. We hope all states will support this decision.

Norway continues to be actively engaged in the Quad Nuclear Disarmament Verification Partnership and the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. In our view, it is crucial to integrate policy perspectives and technical expertise in order to drive progress, and we remain fully committed to this approach.

In the lead up to the tenth Review Conference of the NPT, Norway would also like to draw attention to nuclear disarmament irreversibility. Irreversibility is a principle that enjoys broad support among States, but there is no common definition or unified understanding of the concept. Our aim is to start an international dialogue to better understand and identify requirements for irreversibility. As for verification, a common understanding of this concept is crucial to future nuclear disarmament. This work should start now.


Norway continues to advocate for the rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the negotiation and conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. The Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocol constitute the global verification standard, enabling the IAEA to monitor and evaluate compliance with obligations under the NPT.


Dialogue on arms control and strategic stability is key to global security. The P5 dialogue is vital to further implementation of the NPT, and we encourage the P5 to deepen this dialogue.

The extension of the New START is welcome. It creates space for strategic dialogue between nuclear powers, which can prepare the ground for future arms control agreements. We welcome the reaffirmation by presidents Biden and Putin of the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and that the two countries have embarked on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue. We also welcome US transparency on stockpiles.  


Norway emphasises the importance of educating a new generation of arms control and NPT experts, and supports efforts in this regard – like the Oslo Nuclear Project.

Norway continues to call for the full and equal participation of women in disarmament and non-proliferation fora.

There is no fast track to a world without nuclear weapons. We need to pursue a forward-looking and comprehensive agenda, which must include a number of mutually reinforcing stepping stones.


Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

The world cannot afford to relax its efforts in the fight against weapons of mass destruction. The Chemical Weapons Convention has been violated repeatedly in the last few years. The pandemic highlights the importance of strong defences against biological threats.

As mentioned in the General debate, Norway is appalled by the recurrent use of chemical weapons. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any use of chemical weapons anywhere, under any circumstances. We continue to urge the Russian Federation to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of Mr. Alexei Navalny in August last year, share the findings of the investigation with states parties to the CWC and bring those responsible to justice.

Norway remains steadfast in its support of the decision made at the resumed conference of the states parties to the CWC in April this year, suspending certain rights and privileges of the Syrian Arab Republic. The OPCW and the UN have together attributed eight cases of use of chemical weapons to Syrian authorities and two cases to the so-called Islamic State. All of these cases occurred after Syria’s accession to the CWC in 2013. Eight years after its accession, 20 cases from Syria’s initial declaration still remain outstanding. This is not acceptable.

There exists no Western plot to undermine Russia’s and Syria’s sovereign interests. No illegitimate decisions have been made at the OPCW, and the OPCW has not been usurped. There exist documented violations of the chemical weapons convention and there exists a cross-regional group of countries willing to use the available instruments of the convention to address those violations. Norway belongs to this group.


At the ninth review conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, states parties should take bold action to strengthen the convention. Norway is pleased to note that there seems to be broad agreement on the need for a science and technology review mechanism. We look forward to further discussions about the exact form and function of such a mechanism.

The BWC has well-known institutional deficiencies. In the absence of a fully-fledged implementing organisation, we encourage states parties to use their financial contributions to the BWC to strengthen the implementation support unit whenever possible. Article X of the convention is essential to ensure that states parties enjoy the widest possible access to scientific and technical knowledge for peaceful purposes. Norway recently announced a contribution to the implementation support unit to strengthen the Article X cooperation over the next three years.


The UN Secretary General’s Mechanism for the investigation of alleged use of chemical, biological or toxin weapons was used satisfactorily in 2013. Norway is of the view that the independence of the mechanism must be preserved. The secretary-general has ample opportunity to update the guidelines for the mechanism, should he see the need. Norway therefore sees no need for member states to initiate such an update procedure.