Remarks by Mikhail Ulyanov, Permanent Representative of Russia to International Organisations in Vienna and head of the Russian delegation at the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, November 19, 2019
Allow me to congratulate you on your appointment to this high and responsible post. I would like to assure you that you can rely on our support.
I would also like to thank the Secretary-General and the staff of the UN Secretariat for the convocation of this conference and help in conducting it.
It would probably be appropriate to congratulate the conferees on finally starting to fulfill the 1995 resolution on the Middle East in the NPT framework after almost a quarter century since adoption in 1995. It is hard to overrate this achievement. The efforts to create a WMDFZ are important not only for the region but also for countering WMD proliferation globally.
We wish every success to the participants here in the conference.
Needless to say, it is regrettable that Israel and the United States are not taking part in the conference. Washington’s position is particularly perplexing: it is far from making even the slightest effort to fulfil its commitments as one of the three co-founders of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, as well as obligations stemming from the resolutions of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Moreover, it is even trying to interfere with other participants but, luckily, without much success.
As for Israel, we hope it will join the next session of this annual conference. This is what happened before during informal talks in Glion and Geneva. Israel’s participation would be helpful.
We hope in the near future, probably even today, we will settle the issues related to the application of the consensus rule to procedural problems. We believe that considering the sensitive attitudes towards the agenda items, it would be important to make sure that not only meaningful but also procedural issues have the support of all the participants. In addition, we think this approach will be important for creating conditions for the inclusivity of the process, primarily, Israel’s involvement in later stages.
We would like to share with you one more consideration. We believe the conference can become an important venue on the sidelines where interested countries can informally discuss contiguous issues related to regional security. Naturally, the participants would initiate this for themselves.
The task of creating a WMDFZ is very complicated and truly unique. In addition to nuclear weapons, the initiative would also cover chemical and biological weapons. We think it would be important to use the experience of the already functioning nuclear-free zones and the best practices of implementing the following international agreements: the NPT, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
We are firmly convinced that the region’s countries should play the decisive role and take primary responsibility for creating the WMDFZ. Nobody can or should impose anything on them in this respect. We are ready to provide general expert and political support for these efforts if our colleagues in the Middle East deem it necessary.
Diplomatic and expert circles are actively discussing the correlation of the WMDFZ talks under UN aegis and the discussion of this issue in the context of the NPT. We hope this conference will alleviate the heated debates on the WMDFZ at the NPT Review Conference in 2020. At the same time, it is obvious that the issue of creating the WMDFZ in the Middle East will continue to be on the agendas of NPT review conferences until the full implementation of the 1995 resolution.
We believe the completion of the first session will require a short final document that will send a clear signal to the international community to the effect that the participants are pleased with the first session and motivated to continue to work together. Probably, it would be worthwhile to outline the prospects for future plans.
In conclusion, we would like to assure you once again that the participants can firmly rely on Russia’s support. As one of the three co-authors of the 1995 resolution, Russia is fully aware of its role in facilitating progress.
Thank you, Ms Chairperson.