Majid Takht-Ravanchi – Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations

Under the treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, all states possessing nuclear weapons have committed to destroy all their nuclear weapons. In addition, they are legally obliged not only to refrain from any action to build nuclear weapons, but also to refrain from transferring such weapons to other countries, deploying them outside their territory, and cooperating with other governments to build nuclear weapons.

Under pressure from non-nuclear states, nuclear governments, after decades of non-compliance with their legal obligations, in the final documents of conferences on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review in 1995, 2000 and 2010, they reaffirmed their commitment to take effective practical steps to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, a look at the available statistics and facts shows that not only do nuclear countries lack the political motivation to pursue nuclear disarmament, but also their nuclear activities, including increasing the quality of nuclear weapons, modernizing and increasing the destructive power of such weapons, increasing the nuclear weapons budget and promoting the status of nuclear weapons in the national security doctrines, even in violation of international regulations and commitments, has created a situation in which the past trend does not show a significant move towards nuclear disarmament and such a prospect does not seem to exist in the future. It should be emphasized that in the absence of real nuclear disarmament, nuclear countries and their allies pursue a policy of reducing nuclear risk which, due to its very small scope and lack of consideration of real nuclear disarmament, such policy no means can be considered as an alternative and equivalent to nuclear disarmament.

In protest to this situation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, every two years, has been the main sponsor of the resolution on “reviewing implementation of the obligations agreed at NPT Review Conferences at five-year intervals of NPT member states since 1995” onwards. The main purpose of this resolution is implementation of the commitments of the nuclear states on nuclear disarmament and within the framework of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The draft resolution was first submitted to the Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations (Committee on Disarmament and International Security) and after review and initial decision-making in that committee, the result was sent to the UN General Assembly for consideration and making final decision.

Below, with a glance at the structure and content of the resolution, possible interpretations of the positions of different countries are examined. From this point of view, the principles voted on each resolution and proposal in multilateral diplomacy is a test for matching the claims with the practical and declared positions of the countries, and based on this, the positions and claims of the countries can be verified in different aspects and dimensions.

Structure and content of the resolution

This resolution includes 9 introductory clauses and 6 executive clauses.

In the introductory part, referring to the previous biennial resolutions, the text of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, previous approval of the General Assembly to achieve nuclear disarmament, the reminder and reaffirmation of the previously agreed commitments in review conferences after the unlimited extension of the treaty in 1995 and afterwards, has expressed concern about the failure of the last review conference held in 2015. One of the most important clauses in this section is introductory clause 6, which emphasizes implementation of the 1995 resolution of the NPT Review Conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East. The 1995 resolution on the Middle East calls for the Israeli regime to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Adding to the importance of the 1995 resolution is the commitment of three sponsors of the said resolution, including the United States, Britain and Russia, to force the regime to cooperate to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

In the executive part, in paragraph one, it validates the previously agreed practical steps to achieve disarmament in 2000, and in paragraph 2 states that the practical steps of implementing Article 6 of the treaty (on nuclear disarmament) and the decision of the 1995 conference as well, pursues the goals and principles of nuclear disarmament.

Article 3 in the executive part, calls on nuclear-weapon states to speed up implementation of their commitments to completely destroy their nuclear arsenal in accordance with the principles of transparency, irreversibility and international oversight, and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines. They are also being asked to begin the practical process of achieving nuclear disarmament.

Executive paragraph 4 emphasizes the need for nuclear states to provide security assurances to non-nuclear states that they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them.

Finally, in this section, all members of the United Nations are called upon to pursue implementation of the commitments accepted by the nuclear powers in the form of review conferences and the preliminary committees of those conferences.

Votes for the proposed resolution of Iran

Proposed resolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was last approved in the committee of the General Assembly this year with 108 votes in favor, 44 against and 25 abstentions. Introductory paragraph 6, which was voted on separately, was approved by 109 votes in favor, 4 against and 58 abstentions.

According to the regulations, the decisions of the committees of the General Assembly, including Committee One, are sent to the General Assembly in the form of committee recommendations until about a month later, the General Assembly, as the highest body, decides on that issue. Previous experience shows that with the consultations of our country’s delegation to attract the favorable opinion of the opposition and abstentions delegations, and also due to the greater participation of members in the decisions of the General Assembly than the committees, Iran’s proposed resolution gets more votes in the General Assembly. The results of the last voting of the General Assembly in 2019 show 118 votes in favor, 43 against and 19 abstentions.

As it turns out, the reaction of UN members to Iran’s proposal can be divided into three groups.

– The majority of members of the United Nations, especially the non-nuclear non-aligned countries, who have always welcomed the proposal and have always, supported the resolution. It is noteworthy that some non-nuclear states generally do not participate in the meetings or sometimes in voting.

– A group of countries that abstained. While those countries are non-nuclear, for political reasons, although do not support Iran’s proposal, do not oppose it and are content to abstain.

– A negative vote on the introductory paragraph or the entire resolution is questionable, especially by some countries. In general, nuclear states oppose any explicit and objective proposal for nuclear disarmament, regardless of the proposer. The so-called “nuclear umbrellas” countries (with the security guarantees given to them by the nuclear powers) also try to negatively vote against such proposals in terms of the positions of the respective nuclear countries and especially with the intention of not taking a position that would lead to the termination of umbrella support. By giving negative vote to such proposals, they show their political support for the nuclear states. In general, the United States, the Israeli regime, and Western countries have always been among the opponents of Iran’s proposal. The United States and Israel have always been the ones calling for voting on introductory paragraph 6 and the entire resolution.

Summarizing and verifying

As was mentioned above, any declarative stance and practical action of countries in international forums can be a clear test for verifying the claims. In the specific context of this resolution, the point of departure, content, request and direction of the resolution clearly indicate the need for objective fulfillment of disarmament obligations, and in the meantime the Islamic Republic of Iran, like other non-nuclear countries, has no interest but to strengthen international peace and security by eliminating one of the existing threats (existence of nuclear weapons). On the other hand, the hypocrisy in the positions of Western countries, which always close their eyes to the arsenal of real weapons of mass destruction of the Israeli regime and point the finger of proliferation blame at the Islamic Republic of Iran, is clearly revealed by the negative vote for the resolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because, such countries, while expressing concern about the danger of proliferation, in practice oppose the real demand for disarmament and complete destruction of nuclear weapons, and in today’s transparent international community there are no buyers for such claims.

At this year’s meeting of the Committee on Disarmament and International Security, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as in previous years, referring to the new nuclear arms race and the process of modernization of such weapons as a warning process, has called for an end to such measures and will continue to do so with determination. Iran believes that global security becomes more insecure with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and therefore creating a secure world requires complete destruction of such weapons, at the forefront of which, nuclear weapons. In line with this policy, Iran has proposed creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.