Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Agenda items 64 to 84 (continued)
Thematic discussion on item subjects; introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security items
The Chairman : In accordance with the programme of work and timetable, this morning the First Committee will continue the second phase of its work.
Mr. Khairat (Egypt): The delegation of Egypt has the honour to present, on behalf of States members of the League of Arab States, a draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/56/L.25 under agenda item 77, “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.
In order to accommodate the different concerns of many interested delegates, the draft resolution was submitted this year without introducing any changes; thus, it contains the same language as last year’s resolution.
The draft resolution reflects the prevailing realities as they stand today in the Middle East. Such realities underline a basic fact in this region, namely, that Israel remains the only State in the region which has not acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and that is precisely what is objectively stated in the eighth preambular paragraph. This, as we may underscore, is neither name-calling, nor singling out, nor of a confrontational nature; it is simply a clear reflection of reality, stated in a carefully measured and descriptive manner.
The achievement of universal adherence to the NPT remains a cardinal priority, not only for the Middle East region, but also for the international community as a whole. Universality consolidates the edifice of the NPT regime. This is underscored by the Treaty itself and has been subsequently confirmed by the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted on May 11 1995 by the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons; in the provisions of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the same Conference; and, lastly, by the 2000 NPT Final Document.
The draft resolution conveys the concern of the international community over the continued presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the region resulting therefrom. This issue is of particular importance and priority today since, as I stated before, all countries in the Middle East, except one — Israel — have become parties to the NPT and accepted the comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on their nuclear activities.
On 19 May 2000, the States parties to the NPT took a leading step in addressing this concern by distinctly recognizing the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East and by emphasizing in explicit and unequivocal terms the importance of Israel’s acceding to the NPT and placing all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. The consensus Final Document adopted by the 2000 NPT Review Conference is a positive contribution to all non-proliferation endeavours in the Middle East. The draft before the First Committee, for the second year, flows from this consensus. It reflects in paragraph 2 the principles and language that were accepted and adopted unanimously by States parties to the NPT in May 2000.
Needless to say, the continuation of such an imbalance and asymmetry between the legal obligations and commitments of States on the Middle East cannot but further aggravate serious security concerns over the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and undermine the efforts deployed by various regional and extra-regional parties aimed at establishing confidence-building measures, in particular those efforts aimed at the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Egypt, on behalf of States members of the League of Arab States, hopes to receive the overwhelming support of member States for this draft resolution. Last year, an unprecedented 157 votes in favour of the resolution came as direct support for our endeavours. This support came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere. We hope that, this year, this draft resolution will be adopted by consensus.
Mr. Al-Hassan (Oman): I have the honour to address the First Committee with regard to agenda item 77, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, and, more particularly, with regard to the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/56/L.25, which was once again introduced by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the Member States of the United Nations that are members of the League of Arab States (LAS), including my own.
While my delegation fully associates itself with the statement made by the representative of Egypt in this regard and with the overall position of the Arab States expressed earlier by the representative of Jordan during the general debate allow me to make a few remarks regarding draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.25.
I must confess that, like other representatives, I had a lengthy statement to make. But, in order to save the Committee’s time and to avoid redundancy, I will simply summarize its key points.
My country — and, I believe, the entire international community with few exceptions — is overwhelmed by the support that has been accorded the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Over the past few years, the NPT has evolved from a multilateral non-proliferation and to some extent disarmament treaty to a cornerstone of international efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, despite that overwhelming support, some countries, very few, still remain outside that regime. We are of the opinion that today more than ever before the credibility and universality of the NPT are being tested.
In the region of the Middle East, one State, Israel, remains outside the NPT regime. That is totally unacceptable, and I believe it should not be accepted by the rest of the international community, because, as we all know, a nuclear threat in any part of the world is a nuclear threat to the world at large.
For more than two decades there has been growing momentum towards accession to the NPT and to other international instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament.
In the region of the Middle East, there is a real nuclear-weapon threat which stems from the refusal of one State to join the NPT and to place all its nuclear facilities under full-scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Every year since 1974, the First Committee has apprised the Assembly of the situation through a draft resolution. We are dismayed that more than a decade has passed with no momentum when it comes to closing the glaring gap in the Middle East in terms of bringing peace and security to that region, as has been done in many other parts of the world. We use this forum to call upon the members of the international community, principally the Depositary States, to assume their responsibility as enshrined in the NPT and to convince those in our region that have not signed the NPT to do so.
We believe it is high time to demonstrate to the rest of the world that all countries are subject to the rule of law and that the NPT regime is a global endeavour by all peace-loving nations.
Mr. Goussous (Jordan): My delegation would like to refer to draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.25, “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, presented by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the Arab States members of the Arab League.
Draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.25 reflects realities of concern to all of us, since it conveys the concern of the larger international community over the presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the region resulting from the present status. This draft resolution is within the framework of the consensus Final Document adopted by the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
We value this draft resolution in view of its relevance to the situation in the Middle East and hope that such a draft resolution with a noble cause will be adopted by consensus.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Yesterday and today, the representative of Egypt introduced two draft resolutions regarding the Middle East. The first draft resolution, which is contained in document A/C.1/56/L.5, relates to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. Such a draft resolution has indeed been adopted by consensus for over 20 years. We shall continue to be a part of the consensus on this draft resolution, notwithstanding certain reservations regarding the modalities it contains. The overall objective is more important to us than the various differences on the text of the draft resolution, as important as those are.
The second draft resolution, which was presented to us today, relates to the so-called risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and is contained in document A/C.1/56/L.25. Here, my delegation categorically rejects both the overall objective and the specific wording of the draft text. This draft resolution singles out Israel, and is the only draft resolution to take issue with the sovereign right of a country to adopt a particular position with regard to an international convention. This draft resolution seeks to embarrass and pressure Israel; but I would like to assure the members of the Committee that this one-sided draft resolution will have absolutely no effect on Israel’s position. Israel will not be pressured into compromising on issues relating to its national security. Moreover, if the draft resolution embarrasses anyone, it embarrasses only its sponsors. It is true that the language may not have changed from last year, but the entire context of international peace and security has changed. We need real solutions to real problems, and not politically divisive draft resolutions to virtual challenges that merely undermine confidence and sow distrusts.
Israel supports the objectives and principles of non-proliferation, and has an impeccable record in that regard. We have never adopted a policy against the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons regime. We joined the consensus on the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone because that is an objective that should be achieved through direct negotiation, and not through imposition. The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear-proliferation in the Middle East does not further that objective, but only makes its attainment more remote by ignoring the real threats of proliferation in the Middle East, to which we referred in our speech in the general debate. Israel continues to believe that arms control and regional security in the Middle East can be changed for the better only by introducing the culture of dialogue and peace, and not by confrontation. We would hope that our neighbours in the region will ultimately adopt a similar approach and thus make the draft resolution on the risk of proliferation as obsolete as it is unhelpful.
In recent years, my delegation has been involved in the efforts to create a better international environment in the field of arms control by showing a constructive and flexible spirit wherever possible — sometimes despite our own positions. The support of members of the First Committee for the draft resolution on the risk of proliferation is a discouraging reaction to those efforts. We patiently await a positive change in that regard.
Mr. Khairat (Egypt): I am sorry to prolong the debate on this matter, but I just want to refer to some of the comments just made with respect to the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
As I stated before, this draft resolution is not an embarrassment to the sponsors, and it is not an embarrassment to anybody. This draft resolution tries to reflect the prevailing reality in the Middle East, namely, that there is only one nuclear Power in the Middle East — Israel — and that it has not acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and has not placed its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full-scope safeguards.
As I said before, this is not a confrontational draft resolution. Rather, it includes unanimously agreed wording contained in the NPT, refers to the NPT by name and highlights the importance of acceding to the NPT and placing nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. Moreover, I do not believe that this is a discouraging draft resolution, as the delegation of Israel has said. It is an encouraging draft resolution that aims for more security and stability in the region.
I have many things to say in this regard, but I do not want to prolong the proceedings and will therefore stop here.
The meeting rose at 12.15 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.