Statement delivered by Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway to the Conference on Disarmament.
Norway is fully committed to the objective of total elimination of nuclear weapons. This can only be achieved through balanced, mutual, irreversible and verifiable elimination of these weapons. For more than 20 years, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has been at an impasse. We need to resume substantive work in the CD, and to seek compromises that can gradually return it to its role as the ‘single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum’ that UNGA designated it to be.
2021 will be an important year for international arms control and nuclear disarmament. The 10th NPT Review Conference is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in enhancing global security. The NPT is the cornerstone of our common efforts on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses. Over the past five decades, the global stockpile of nuclear weapons has been substantially reduced, the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been curtailed, and the benefits of civilian applications of nuclear energy and technology have been shared globally. In short, the NPT has been a success.
At the ministerial meeting in Berlin last year, a cross-regional group of 16 countries identified 22 concrete actions, or stepping stones, for progress on nuclear disarmament. We encourage all states to study this proposal and support these actions.
Norway considers the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and the progress of multilateral work on Nuclear Disarmament Verification (NDV) as key steps towards nuclear disarmament.
In its recommendations to the General Assembly in autumn 2019, the UN Group of Governmental Experts on NDV, which was chaired by Norway, underscored the key role of NDV in achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons. A new group of experts will start work on NDV later this year. Norway is ready to continue leading this effort. I encourage the CD to give special attention to the issue of NDV.
We welcome the agreement between President Biden and President Putin to extend the New START Treaty by another five years. The Treaty contributes to stability and security, both globally and regionally, and provides an impetus for ongoing and future work on arms control and disarmament.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our collective inadequacy in the face of large-scale biological health hazards. The preparations for the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BWC) will be starting in 2021. We must seize this opportunity to strengthen the BWC and its norms on assistance and cooperation. We call on all states to join the Treaty.
Finally, Mr. President,
I call on all CD Member States to become parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. These two conventions are among the most effective multilateral disarmament agreements in modern time, and they contribute widely to establishing strong norms and preventing and alleviating humanitarian suffering.