Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 7 May 2014
Yesterday, Israel celebrated its 66 anniversary. Across the country, there were parties and picnics, fireworks and festivities. Amidst the joy and celebration, the day was touched by sadness – because right before celebrating Independence Day, Israel observers Memorial Day.
For sixty seconds a siren wails across the entire country. Cars racing down the highway slow to a halt and drivers step out onto the road. Children pause their games and fall silent. Men and women stop working and stand at attention.
Where else in the world does an entire nation stop everything to remember its fallen heroes? In Israel, we bow our heads and pay tribute to the people who enabled us to live freely in a democratic country.
In its 66 year history, Israel has not known a single day in which it has not fought for survival. In Israel, every child grows up with armed guards outside his school. Every home has an emergency bunker. And almost every family is a bereaved family - having lost a loved one to terrorism or war. For the eight million citizens of Israel, this abnormality is the reality.
Ten years ago, this Council passed resolution 1540 to enforce measures against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery to terrorists. Yet it is clear that a great deal more must be done to stem the flow of weapons, particularly in the Middle East.
Earlier this year, a shipment of advanced rockets were loaded onto a plane in Damascus and flown to Tehran. From there, they were transported overland to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and loaded onto a civilian vessel, the KLOS-C. From the outside, it looked like an ordinary cargo vessel – but the KLOS-C wasn’t carrying parcels for UPS. It was operating as T.P.S. – the Terrorists’ Proliferation Ship.
The KLOS-C set a course towards Port Sudan, a transit point in a weapons supply route used by Iran to move arms to the Gaza Strip. On March 5, the Israeli Defense Force intercepted the ship in the Southern Red Sea. Our forced discovered tens of thousands of munition and tons of sophisticated rockets. The advanced weapons on board this ship would have placed millions of Israelis in the crosshairs of terrorists.
This isn’t the first time that Iran – the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism - has been caught red-handed. In 2002, the Karine A was intercepted carrying 50 tons of Iranian weapons. In 2009, the Israeli Navy seized the Francop carrying hundreds of tons of weapons bound for the Hezbollah terrorist organization. And in 2011, the Victoria was caught carrying illicit arms destined for terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The KLOS-C was a close call – and a reminder that each and every day, illegal arms are being smuggled across the sea, over land, and through the skies. In the Middle East, radical groups are taking advantage of the instability to learn about the ABCs of terrorism – atomic, biological and chemical weapons.
In Syria, they learn from the Dictator in Damascus who sees no problem with dropping barrel bombs packed with explosives, shrapnel and chlorine on homes, hospitals, and markets. For years, Assad and his regime denied having chemical weapons. In its reports to the 1540 Committee, Syria declared that (and I quote): “The Syrian Arab Republic is a state that neither possesses nor intends to acquire WMD, their means of delivery, or related materials.”
As Sherlock Holmes said, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” And the obvious fact is that Syria is deceiving us. This is a regime that lies in bed with Iran and sees no problem with lying to the international community.
It is not enough to take Syria at its word when it says it is complying with the elimination of its chemical weapons. We must verify and validate the situation on the ground. The failure to do so could have deadly consequences if Syria’s stockpiles fall into the hands of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Just as it is with family, we don’t get to choose our neighbors on the map. Israel finds itself in one of the most hostile parts of the world and so - out of necessity - we have become leaders in combatting terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs and their means of delivery.
In addition to developing state-of-the-art technologies and tools, Israel has instituted significant legal measures to fight terrorism. Israel is party to the core universal instruments on counter-terrorism, fully implements Security Council resolution 1373, and enacted legislation to reduce the threats against our citizens.
The Israeli Export Control legislation restricts the goods and technologies that can be used by non-state actors, states supporting terrorism and other countries of concern in the manufacture, development, and use of WMDs and their means of delivery. This legislation incorporates lists of the NSG, the AG, and the MTCR.
Not long ago, Israel joined the handful of countries that ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. This is in addition to having signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Israel has a policy of supporting efforts to promote universality of these two important conventions.
We are closely engaged in non-proliferation initiatives such as GTRI and PSI. Israel is also sharing its unique expertise with other nations. From the plains of Africa to the jungles of Central America, Israeli experts have contributed their knowledge on a range of issues – from terrorist financing to forensic investigation and from aviation security to border protection.
Mr. President, As we speak, smugglers are transporting cargoes loaded with rockets, missiles, and explosives across the Middle East. One of those rockets could spark the next major conflict. One of those missiles could trigger the next terror attack. One of those shipments could carry a dirty bomb.
Winston Churchill said, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger.”
The world is more dangerous than ever before. From smartphones to smart bombs, technology has made it easier for terrorists to inflict mass destruction. Each of us is an eyewitness to this danger and so we cannot turn a blind eye when rogue regimes cross red lines.
Resolution 1540 must be strengthened - with real preventative measures, real enforcement mechanisms, and real consequences for terrorists and rogue regimes. If we work together, we can ensure that the world’s most dangerous people never acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Thank you, Mr. President.