Vietnam reaffirmed its foreign policy of peace and disarmament with highest priorities attached to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the general debate of the UN First Committee in New York on October 15.

Following is the speech by Ambassador Le Hoai Trung, Vietnam’s Permanent Representative to the UN at the debate:

“Mr. Chairman,
At the outset, allow me, on behalf of the delegation of Vietnam, to express our warm congratulations on your assumption of the Chairmanship of the First Committee of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. It is our confidence that with your vast experience in multilateral affairs, you will lead this year’s session to a successful outcome.

Vietnam associates itself with the statement made by H.E. Ambassador Desra Percaya of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, and the statement made by H.E. Ambassador U Maung Wai of Myanmar on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Mr. Chairman,
As we begin the 68th Session of the First Committee, conflicts and the accompanied inhumane use of weapons are still raging across regions, including the use of chemical weapons last August which was widely condemned. It is our collective responsibility to address these issues given the fact that major multilateral negotiations related to disarmament continue to fail to overcome the current impasse.

However, there is room for cautious hope for future successes thanks to well-grounded reasons, including the high-level meeting of the United Nations on nuclear disarmament. It is however a long way to go from these first-step achievements to the long overdue disarmament instruments. Therefore, it is critical that we do not lower our own standard of success and intensify our efforts to move forward the multilateral disarmament agenda.

Mr. Chairman,
Vietnam’s foreign policy is always of peace and for disarmament. It is our conviction, shaped by decades of war and human suffering, that disarmament must be complete and general, implemented in a balanced and comprehensive manner, with highest priorities attached to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

It must be reiterated that the three pillars of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, namely nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, must be moved forward in a balanced manner. As there is only one more session of the Preparatory Committee in 2014 before the 2015 Review Conference, it is of utmost importance that every party concerned must accelerate efforts to fulfill their obligations set out by every single point contained in the 2010 Action Plan. We commend the continued role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in providing technical assistance to states in pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Vietnam has closely cooperated with the IAEA in ensuring nuclear safety and security in the development of nuclear power infrastructure in Vietnam. We will make every effort to fulfill our responsibilities as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IAEA for the term 2013-2014.

While reiterating our consistent commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, we stress that nuclear disarmament is our ultimate collective goal. In this regard, the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament convened last September was significant in stepping up momentum, which would be further advanced by the steps set out in the draft resolution that the Non-Aligned Movement is going to table to follow up on this Meeting. A number of outstanding issues remain to be addressed, including the initiation of consultations on a nuclear disarmament convention, the negotiation of legally binding instrument on negative security assurances, and the substantive negotiation of a fissile material treaty. Pending those issues, it is critical to bring into force existing international instruments, especially the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We therefore call on those states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty at an early date.

We share the view that nuclear-weapons-free zone and Mongolia’s nuclear-free status contribute critically to the maintenance of international peace and security. In Southeast Asia, together with other ASEAN countries, we look forward to an early signing by the Nuclear Weapons States of the Protocol to the Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ). We therefore share the disappointment over the delay of the Conference on the Establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East, considering this as a serious issue for the credibility of the NPT regime, and call for its early convening.

We welcome the framework agreement on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, as well as other promising signs of the primacy of diplomacy and peaceful settlement of pressing issues in the Middle East. It is our wish that this agreement would be implemented in an expeditious, objective and comprehensive manner.

Mr. Chairman,
While issues related to weapons of mass destruction continue to occupy us, it is necessary to bear in mind that conventional arms directly affect daily lives of innocent people. We strongly share the humanitarian purposes of international efforts related to addressing effect of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. We share the view that the Arms Trade Treaty could have been more inclusive and it is important, at this stage, to emphasise that the future implementation of the treaty must be balanced and non-discriminatory.

Mr. Chairman,
As disarmament goes into the very heart of national security of every state, it is of critical importance that in order to deliver in this area, we have to work harder together to create an environment of strategic trust, an environment that enables states to believe that our collective achievement in disarmament is not attained at the expense of any member of the international community.

Experiences of success in Southeast Asia, in Europe… have shown us that the key is to expand and deepen cooperation, further mutual understanding, and sustain commitment to common rules and principles, including respect for international law, the United Nations Charter, and peaceful settlement of international disputes.

Substantive results in multilateral disarmament are feasible. Their deliverance rests upon our collective action, including those at this important committee, to promote such an environment, apart from the meticulous work of substantiating political commitment. To that end, Vietnam reiterates its commitment to work with international partners and with you, Mr. Chairman, to ensure the success of this year’s session.”-VNA