Speaking at a meeting of the UN General Assembly First Committee (also known as the Disarmament and International Security Committee) on Wednesday, Majid Takht-Ravanchi said the international security environment continues to deteriorate as a result of protracted conflicts and arms race while dialog mechanisms are eroding.
“The use and the threat of use of force arise in different parts of the world. Global military spending and arms competition are increasing, and the tensions of the Cold War era have returned to the world that has grown more complex. Besides the continued threat of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) as well as the offensive policies of specific states, new threats including the possible weaponization of artificial intelligence, cyberspace, and outer space are emerging,” he added.
Iran’s envoy further enumerated impediments to nuclear disarmament, including an arms modernization race and a lack of political will by countries to reject a nuclear weapon option.
“Over 14,000 nuclear weapons, costing $100 billion annually to modernize, maintain and deploy, remain in the arsenals of the nuclear-armed states, and the possibility of their use can result in a catastrophic impact on humanity and the planet. Fifty years after entry into force of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), and against the clear obligation of NWS (nuclear weapons states) on nuclear disarmament, that nominal commitment is yet to be implemented,” he noted.
Takht-Ravanchi also warned that the US, which is the largest holder of nuclear weapons globally, keeps modernizing its tremendous arsenal.
Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as well as its lack of the will to extend the New Start Treaty have caused immense damage to international efforts towards non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, he said.
“Just in 2019, the US spent $36 billion on its nuclear arsenal and confirmed that the latest variant of a low-yield warhead- has been ‘fielded.’ It uses this arsenal to threaten other non-nuclear-weapon states and irresponsibly lowers the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons.”
Referring to Israel’s threat of nuclear annihilation against Middle Eastern countries, the Iranian diplomat urged the international community to compel the regime to promptly accede to the NPT without any precondition and place all of its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s full-scope safeguards.
“This regime is the only regional obstacle to the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear weapons, a first-ever proposal initiated by Iran in 1974,” he said.
Moreover, Takht-Ravanchi cautioned against Saudi Arabia’s incomplete implementation of the Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement and Washington-Riyadh nuclear collaboration.
“Failure to implement the IAEA’s safeguards could allow the Saudi Arabia to hide certain nuclear activities without being subject to IAEA inspections. However, Washington has reportedly given green light to seven US firms to engage with Riyadh in preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal, without any prior-agreement for enforcing non-proliferation norms,” he underlined.
US arms export destabilizes Mideast
Meanwhile, Iran’s UN ambassador expressed deep concerns about the continuous flow of sophisticated offensive conventional weapons into the volatile Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region.
“In this context, the US is by far the world’s biggest exporter of arms to the region and Saudi Arabia has become the world’s largest arms importer in the last five years, with an increase of 192 percent compared with 2009–13. Arms imports by Israel also rose (354 percent) in the same period,” he said.
Takh-Ravanchi also reaffirmed that it is the sovereign right of any state to acquire, manufacture, import and retain conventional arms for its legitimate security needs, saying, “It is in this context that Iran has developed, based on international law, its home-grown defensive missile capability to deter any threat against our country.”
The Islamic Republic, he emphasized, condemns any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anytime and under any circumstances.
“We attach great importance to full implementation of the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) and urge the US as the only possessor of CWs to comply with its obligations to destroy its chemical arsenal and to withdraw its reservation to the Geneva Protocol without any further delay,” he concluded.