The 2024 Conference on DisarmamentHigh Level Segment. Statement by Mr Andreas Kravik State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway (27.02.2024)

Mr President

These are difficult times for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. [The UN Secretary-General’s urgent plea for action should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.] Let us use this meeting to reaffirm our commitment to multilateral disarmament and to a world without nuclear weapons.

Norway is deeply concerned about the decades-long deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. We need a strong political commitment from all CD member states to work together and to agree on an effective programme of work.

The CD does not exist in a vacuum, isolated from geopolitical dynamics. Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine and its reckless rhetoric on nuclear weapons do not just represent a threat to regional and global security. The institutional integrity of our common disarmament framework is at stake as well.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of our efforts to promote nuclear disarmament, and we need to make full use of the upcoming session of the Preparatory Committee to strengthen all three pillars of the Treaty. The principles of transparency and accountability must be at the centre of our efforts.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is key to achieving a world without nuclear weapons. Norway and Panama are serving as co-Presidents of the Article XIV Conference and are leading efforts to promote the Treaty’s universalisation and entry into force.  Russia’s decision to withdraw its ratification of the Treaty is deeply regrettable.

Norway is disappointed that the CD was not able to agree, yet again, to include an explicit reference to a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the draft Programme of Work. We believe that the conditions are ripe for a comprehensive process where all states can freely address their concerns within a framework of negotiation.

The use of artificial intelligence and autonomous technology for military purposes poses serious legal and ethical concerns. We must ensure that weapons systems featuring autonomy remain under meaningful human control. Next week's meetings in the GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems will provide an opportunity to make progress towards meeting the urgent need to establish effective norms and rules for the use of these weapons systems.

Mr President

Norway will continue to give priority to verification and irreversibility in nuclear disarmament. We are seeking to engage all interested countries in these processes. This is practical work that we can do now and that will benefit future disarmament agreements.  

The lack of a substantive strategic dialogue on arms control is of great concern. We urge all nuclear-weapon states to ensure transparency with regard to their arsenals and to establish effective lines of communication to avoid misunderstandings and accidents. Risk reduction measures should be at the core of our common efforts, not least because of the devastating humanitarian consequences any nuclear detonation, intentional or inadvertent, would have.

Norway is gravely concerned about the DPRK’s pattern of ballistic missile tests and the ongoing development of its nuclear programme. We urge the DPRK to return immediately to dialogue and to abandon all its nuclear programmes completely, verifiably, and irreversibly.

We deeply regret Iran’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA to resolve outstanding safeguards issues. Only Iran can provide the necessary clarifications. Iran’s decision to withdraw the designation of several experienced Agency inspectors was yet another step in the wrong direction. We call on Iran to resume full cooperation with the IAEA in good faith.

Regarding the precarious situation in the Middle East, Norway continues to call for a sustained and durable humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, and the immediate release of all hostages. International law must be respected and upheld by all parties.

Inclusivity and transparency are key pillars of multilateralism, and the Conference on Disarmament should be no exception. Norway fully supports the inherent right of observer states to participate actively in the CD, as set out in the rules of procedure.

In closing, I would like to stress the importance of promoting gender equality and broad-based participation in disarmament processes.

Thank you.