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Min Coveney remarks on Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons


Statements on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and on the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons 

Opening Remarks

Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Simon Coveney T.D.


2020 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty; a treaty closely associated with Ireland, and the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Ireland also ratified the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons this year; it will enter into force on 22 January 2021. These Treaties demonstrate our longstanding leadership in this area. It is fitting that Dáil Éireann acknowledges both milestones and I thank Deputies Eoghan Murphy and Duncan Smith for their initiative in proposing this Debate.


The very first resolution of the UN, adopted in January 1946, called for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”  As we mark sixty-five years since Ireland joined the UN, I recall Ireland’s proud legacy with the ‘Irish Resolutions’ in the late 1950s and 1960s, from which the NPT originated.


Ireland’s then Minister for External Affairs, Frank Aiken, highlighted the widespread fear about the threat posed by nuclear weapons amidst extreme global tensions – describing the NPT as “a practical and vital step away from war and towards that peaceful co-operative world.”    


We ought to have marked the NPT’s anniversary at its Tenth Review Conference, in spring 2020 – but the pandemic has seen it postponed to August 2021. This does not diminish the urgency of working towards full implementation across the Treaty’s three pillars – disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses.


A key priority for Ireland for the Review Conference is tangible progress across these pillars, particularly disarmament and the implementation of past commitments. Ireland also wants further consideration of the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear weapons explosion, whether deliberately, by accident or miscalculation.  Together with cross-regional partners Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa in the New Agenda Coalition, Ireland will focus on making progress on nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT.


Ireland continues to support progress on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.  This is integral to the measures on the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and Ireland was centrally involved in securing the 2010 agreement on the way forward.   I was encouraged by the adoption of a political declaration at the New York Conference in November 2019, expressing the intent and commitment to pursue this issue.


Ireland will also continue to play a central role in promoting gender equality in key areas such as the gendered impacts of nuclear weapons, and equal and meaningful participation of women.


The lack of progress on disarmament under the NPT was one consideration behind the TPNW.  Having championed the NPT from its inception, it was fitting Ireland played a leadership role once again in drafting, with other core group members, the UN resolutions which led to the negotiation of the TPNW.


I am proud that on the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Ireland ratified the TPNW.Having reached 50 ratifications, it will now enter into force on 22 January 2021. The TPNW is the product of tireless work by concerned states, civil society, and survivors of nuclear weapons use and testing.


From the outset of Ireland’s engagement in nuclear disarmament, the overriding concern has been the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons. We are proud of our legacy with the NPT and TPNW, and see both as an illustration of the contribution a small country like Ireland can make to international peace and security.



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