71 UNGA: Statement by Ambassador Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations, at the Inaugural session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission.

Madam chair,

The delegation of Cuba fully supports the statement made by the delegation of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, and the speech by the delegation of El Salvador on behalf of CELAC.

We congratulate you on your election as Chairwoman of the Disarmament Commission during the substantive sessions of this year. We extend our congratulations to the members of the Bureau and to the chairs of the working groups. We wish you success in the exercise of your responsibilities and assure you of our cooperation.

We hope that in this final year of the current cycle of discussions the Commission will make substantive progress and that its deliberations will make it possible to agree on concrete recommendations on the agenda items with a view to presenting them to the United Nations General Assembly.

Madam chair,

Taking advantage of the situation created by the first session of the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination, held last week, we reiterated the call to Nuclear States and others protected by the so-called "nuclear umbrella” to show political will and commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and to take a first step in that direction during the work of this session of the Disarmament Commission.

Alarmingly, some States continue to modernize their arsenals and develop new types of nuclear weapons, including through sub-critical trials; trying to legitimize their possession through the nuclear deterrence policy and a questionable concept of security. It is also concerned that they continue to deploy nuclear weapons in the territory of non-nuclear-weapon states; all of this, in clear non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in particular Article VI thereof and the agreements reached at its 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.

We regret that three countries have blocked the consensus to agree on the outcome document of the Ninth Review Conference of the NPT, against the will and the decision to move forward shown by the overwhelming majority of States Parties to the Treaty. The failure of this Conference reaffirmed the urgent need to start multilateral negotiations within the framework of the United Nations to expeditiously conclude a Convention prohibiting all nuclear weapons with a view to their total elimination.

We express our disagreement with the failure to comply with the agreement on holding the International Conference for the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The establishment of this particular Zone would be an important contribution to achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament and a milestone in the Middle East peace process. We urge once again that this Conference be held without further delay.

Madam Chair,

In the face of the continuing serious threat posed by the mere existence of nuclear weapons for the very survival of the human species, we reiterate the call to take advantage of all possible spaces, including the sessions of this Commission and the work of its Working Group on "Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons", in order to move towards the prohibition and total elimination of such weapons.

We recall the convening by the General Assembly, with the support of the vast majority of Member States, of a High-Level International Conference no later than 2018 to examine the progress made in terms of nuclear disarmament. This meeting could assist in identifying ways and methods to eliminate nuclear weapons in the shortest possible term, with a view to agreeing on a phased program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons over a specific period of time.

We also recall that the commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26 provides an important space to raise awareness of the international community on the danger of nuclear weapons.

It is time for nuclear disarmament to cease to be a deferred and relegated goal.

Our country has reiterated that the only guarantee to prevent the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by States or individuals would be through their absolute prohibition and elimination, under strict international control.

In this regard, we consider that the adoption of a prohibition treaty is only an intermediate step and that these negotiations should lead to the adoption of a comprehensive Convention establishing the elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified period of time and under strict international verification. This would be the only way to ensure a full, effective, irreversible, transparent and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

Likewise, we reaffirm the inalienable right of States to develop research, production and peaceful use of nuclear energy without discrimination in accordance with Articles I, II, III and IV of the NPT. We further recall the commitment of all signatory Parties to the Treaty to facilitate participation in the exchange of scientific and technological information, materials and equipment for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Madam chair,

With regards to the issue of Practical Confidence Building Measures in the field of conventional weapons, we consider that these voluntary measures are a way to strengthen international peace and security, which must be adopted in strict compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting the specific security concerns of States.

We recognize the contribution of confidence-building measures to disarmament and arms control, but reiterate that these are not an alternative to disarmament.

We reiterate the contribution to confidence building of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, adopted at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held in Havana in January, 2014.

We demand respect of the said Proclamation, which reflects the principles to treat each other with mutual respect and fraternity.

By virtue of this Proclamation and considering that the imposition of military bases without the consent of the peoples undermines confidence building in the area of conventional weapons, we demand the return of the territory illegally occupied by Guantánamo Naval Base, against the will of the Cuban people.

Finally, our delegation reiterates its willingness to work actively with a view to concluding this cycle of the Disarmament Commission with concrete recommendations on both agenda items.

Thank you very much