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Arms Control and International Security: Thematic Discussion on Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
October 24, 2017

Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

Delegation of the United States of America

72nd UNGA First Committee
New York City, October 23, 2017

As Delivered

Mr. Chairman,

Regional approaches provide important avenues to further disarmament, security and nonproliferation objectives.  In East Asia, the regional architecture has steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from North Korea.  The unity of Indo-Pacific States will be vital to address regional threats such as North Korea’s UN-proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  On September 3, 2017, Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test which it claimed was of an “H-bomb for [an] ICBM” and continued its escalatory campaign of ballistic missile launches including its first and second ICBM tests in July 2017, and two Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile launches over Japan, in August and September.  These provocative actions are unacceptable.  They flagrantly violate multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and pose a grave threat to global security.  We are working closely with our allies and partners to exert maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on the Pyongyang regime to compel its leaders to change course and engage in talks aimed at denuclearization.  North Korea will not achieve the security or the prosperity it seeks, until it complies with its international obligations.  In the face of the growing threat posed by North Korea, our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.

As President Trump made clear last week, the United States is committed to denying Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and to neutralizing the full spectrum of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East, including its development and proliferation of ballistic missile technology and support for terrorism, which directly threaten the security of the United States and our allies and partners in the region.  We will work closely with our international partners and the U.S. Congress to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  In the meantime, the United States will continue to meet its commitments under the JCPOA and will hold Iran strictly accountable for each and every one of its commitments as well.  We call on all nations to support the critical role of the IAEA in verifying Iran’s adherence to its nuclear-related commitments, and encourage the IAEA to utilize the full range of its inspection authorities in Iran.

The United States continues to support the goal of a WMD-free Middle East, and we remain prepared to support direct regional dialogue, which is essential to achieving progress.

Mr. Chairman, South Asia is home to two nuclear weapons-possessing states and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.  Reducing nuclear danger in South Asia is critical to the safety and security of the region and the world.  The United States remains focused on reducing the risk of nuclear weapons and other related materials falling into terrorist hands.  We also encourage regional countries to exercise restraint in the pursuit of potentially destabilizing delivery systems that could threaten regional and U. S. interests.

Mr. Chairman, beyond nuclear issues, the growing membership in the Biological Weapons Convention reflects its value in setting a global norm banning these abhorrent weapons.  The United States encourages States Parties to reach agreement at their annual meeting in December on a robust new program of work for the next three years.  We seek engagement with a wide range of Parties and with regional organizations toward that end, as well as toward membership in and effective implementation of the Convention by all states.  Further, we welcome the strong support from most regional groups for the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and its efforts, along with Member States, to strengthen the global norm against the development and use of chemical weapons.  The use of chemical weapons is reprehensible and those who use such weapons must be held accountable.

Thank you.