Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)

Non-Proliferation Treaty: Remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP on the preparation of the 2020 NPT review process, arms control and nuclear disarmament options

Brussels, 20/10/2020 - 18:37, UNIQUE ID: 201020_11

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Madame President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I would like to thank the Rapporteur [Mr Sven Mikser] and all Members of the European Parliament who have contributed to these recommendations ahead of the 2020 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).

This upcoming Review Conference is the next most important event on global non-proliferation and disarmament – at least what still remains of it. Despite current uncertainty about when the conference will take place, it remains the most important event in the world of non-proliferation and disarmament.

We are all concerned about the deteriorating security environment as well as the continued pressure on the nuclear non-proliferation architecture, illustrated by the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces in Europe Treaty. We regretted it a lot when it happened and we continue regretting it now.

It is essential that all States Parties comply with their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and fully implement all commitments under the Treaty.

Upholding and preserving the Non-Proliferation Treaty must remain a key priority for the European Union’s foreign policy. The European Union strongly supports all three pillars of the Treaty – non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy - and will continue to promote comprehensive, balanced and full implementation of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan.

Through intensive diplomatic engagement backed up by the [Common Foreign and Security Policy] (CFSP) funded Council Decisions we are promoting the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the preparations of negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. We are also proud to support regional conferences in preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. 

We are going to redouble our efforts to uphold international norms, to restore dialogue and trust, and to promote transparency and confidence-building measures.

Together with Member States, we are preparing a strong and forward-looking common European Union position for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. And I would like to stress some of the key elements of our position in the context of your Report.

First, we will continue to strongly call for the extension by the United States and Russia of the New START Treaty before February 2021 and we will encourage negotiations for a broader future agreement.

Second, we welcome the various initiatives of nuclear disarmament, including the Stockholm Initiative.

Third, we acknowledge the increased attention given to risk reduction and we hope discussions on this topic could gain broad support.

The promotion of universal adherence and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty - as I already mentioned - remains a top priority for the European Union.

This conference will be an occasion to address non-proliferation crises as well. We continue calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further provocations and to take concrete steps towards abandoning all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

We will also reaffirm our commitment and support for the Iran nuclear deal, the so-called JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We deeply regret the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and the subsequent re-imposition of United States sanctions on Iran. At the same time, we are gravely concerned by Iran's activities that are inconsistent with the JCPOA and have severe proliferation implications.

Finally, let me underline that we also take due note of your proposal to encourage talks about the possibility of a multilateral ballistic missile treaty.

Thank you for all your comments, observations and proposals.

Mr Mikser, Honourable Members, I am looking forward to listening to your views and I thank you for your attention.

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Closing remarks

Thank you Madame President, thank you to all of you Honourable Members,

I thank you for your contributions to this important debate.

We are firmly convinced of the enduring values of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Upholding the integrity of the rules-based international system with effective multilateralism, as a key principle, remains European Union's objective.

We need to continue working to achieve results and not allow the pandemic to bring multilateralism to a standstill. The field of nuclear prevention is one in which we can and we should continue working.

The downgrade of international treaties and regimes and the adoption of unilateral measures to enforce compliance with non-proliferation will hardly have the desirable results. The major global challenges of our era can only be addressed by working in partnership with others.

This pandemic that affects all of us should not stop us from continuing our diplomatic and political engagement to deliver results on this critical issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear arms and nuclear disarmament.

I can assure you that we will continue to recall on common positions with Member States and we will continue looking at what else we can do in order to look for a common ground and avoid further polarisation. I can assure you that we will continue encouraging the United States and the Russian Federation to seek further reductions of their arsenals, strategic and tactical, as well as deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons.

I thank you for your interest and for your contributions.

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