"A step-by-step approach to global nuclear disarmament is what we need to build trust and confidence."
Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Thank you very much Nikki for convening this initiative.
And I want to thank all member states standing here who have expressed concern that the proposal for a nuclear weapons ban treaty would fail to address the key issues that must first be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament.
My country, the United Kingdom, is completely committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and we recognise that we have obligations, as every country does, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In our case, under all three pillars of that treaty.
And we have a strong record that we are proud of, on nuclear disarmament. We have reduced the size of our nuclear forces by over 50% since the height of the Cold War.
The UK is not attending the negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament. They cannot and will not work.
The British government firmly believes that the best way to achieve the goal of global nuclear disarmament is through gradual multilateral disarmament, negotiated using a step-by-step approach and within existing international frameworks.
A step-by-step approach to global nuclear disarmament is what we need to build trust and confidence. It will provide for tangible steps towards a safer and a more stable world where countries with nuclear weapons feel able to relinquish them.
Finally, I just want to say that a ban on nuclear weapons will not in itself improve the international security environment, or increase trust and transparency between nuclear weapon possessor states and it will also not address the technical and procedural challenges of nuclear disarmament verification. And that is why I am standing with Ambassador Haley today.