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        General Assembly
20 November 1991


Forty-sixth session
Official Records

being worked on - nini
34th meeting
held on
Tuesday, 12 November 1991
at 10 a.m.
New York


Chairman: Mr. MROZIEWICZ (Poland)


- Consideration of and action on draft resolutions under all disarmament agenda items

The meeting was called to order at 10.45 a.m.
AGENDA ITEMS 47 AND 65 (continued)



Mr. ELARABY (Egypt): The Middle East region is the cradle of civilization, a region rich in cultural heritage and enlightenment and the birthplace of three revealed religions expounding peace as a cornerstone of their spiritual message. Yet the Middle East has been the theatre of strife and armed conflict for over 40 years.

It would therefore seem timely, today more than ever before, in the light of dramatic recent developments, that we seriously embark on laying the solid foundation on which to proceed towards establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The consensus that has emerged in the General Assembly in respect of this proposal and the steadfast support it receives in various multilateral forums, as well as through unilateral declarations, is eloquent testimony to the credibility of this concert as a concrete measure.

The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone would contribute greatly to deterring the proliferation of nuclear weapons, thereby strengthening the security of all States of the region. It would, moreover, eliminate the threat to international peace and security associated with any prospective nuclear-arms race that might develop in the Middle East. Consequently, it would be deemed an important confidence-building measure, indicative of the common will of all States of the region to live in peace.

During the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly, the "Study on effective and verifiable measures would facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East" was presented for the consideration of Member States. This study was generally well received as a useful and balanced approach to efforts to attain an important objective. In quoting this study, I would refer to its conclusions, where it states:
Though we fully realize that peace, security and stability in the region of the Middle East will be achieved only when a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is attained, it is necessary to create the climate that may facilitate this end result. In our view, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone would contribute substantially in this regard. It is important to emphasize that the zone should not be viewed as merely a subsidiary factor of the Middle East equation. On the contrary, the objectives that it serves are fundamental in their own right, by virtue of eliminating the threats posed by the nuclear dimension of an arms race in the Middle East region.

On this occasion, as on previous occasions, Egypt finds it necessary to reiterate what we regard as the fundamental prerequisites, namely: that all States of the region undertake equal legally binding commitments to relinquish the nuclear-weapon option; that all States of the region adhere to the non-proliferation Treaty and apply full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to their nuclear facilities; that appropriate and adequate measures by extraregional States, particularly nuclear-weapon States, be extended to the States of the region; that States of the region develop confidence-building measures in the nuclear field, especially those that would provide transparency of nuclear programmes; and that verification and control procedures necessary to guarantee compliance with the objectives made throughout the necessary stages for establishing the nuclear-weapon-free zone and thereafter be formulated and agreed upon by all parties concerned, and that these procedures provide the maximum degree of assurance for all States that their legitimate security concerns are met.

In introducing draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1, of 6 November 1991, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East", I cannot overemphasize the importance Egypt attaches to the realization of this objective.

It is our considered opinion that the time is ripe to proceed to ascertain the elements of a possible agreement on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. For this reason, operative paragraph 7 of the draft resolution endeavours once again to utilize the good offices of the Secretary-General to inject impetus into the process. We are confident that the United Nations could play an instrumental role in achieving this important measure.

I wish also to draw attention to the eighth preambular paragraph and operative paragraph 6 in which reference is made to the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

It will be recalled that since the announcement of this initiative by President Mubarak on 8 April 1990, it has been attracting an ever-widening degree of support. The Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. In their meeting in Paris last July, the five permanent members endorsed the call for the establishment of such a zone.

The integral relationship between this initiative and the establishment of a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East is self-evident since the objective of both is to enhance the prospects of effective disarmament measures to eliminate the devastating consequences that weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, may inflict. It is our sincere hope that the States of the Middle East will work towards the implementation of both proposals simultaneously, in order to eliminate the shadows of suspicion over the capabilities of one type of mass destruction weapon or the other.

In conclusion, in introducing draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1, Egypt has taken care to preserve all the elements of resolutions of previous years. Editorial updating has been incorporated only where necessary. The delegation of Egypt has conducted extensive consultations concerning the formulation of the draft resolution with all - I repeat: with all - delegations of the States of the Middle East and also with other interested parties who participated constructively in this regard.

I therefore commend this draft resolution to the First Committee and hope that it will receive the same support as on previous occasions and be adopted without a vote.

The CHAIRMAN: I shall now call on those delegations wishing to explain their vote before the vote.

Mr. WAGENMAKERS (Netherlands): I shall speak on behalf of the European Community and its 12 member States.

Under agenda item 54, the First Committee takes up the issue of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.

The Twelve note that Egypt has called for the establishment of such a zone in resolutions since 1974. These resolutions have been adopted by consensus in the General Assembly for more than 10 years.

The Twelve are particularly happy that this year too the delegation of Egypt has introduced a draft resolution (A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1), which we hope will attract consensus. It is well-balanced text dealing with an issue that has had a prominent place in our political agenda, especially this year.

In 1990, President Mubarak of Egypt suggested expanding the scope of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. He proposed that the Middle East should be declared a region free of all weapons of mass destruction, because the threats to the region has continued to grow as a result of the accumulation of arms in the region. This proposal was well received by the international community.

The Twelve believe that the early establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East would constitute an effective measure of non-proliferation and arms control.

If a zone free of mass destruction were established, this would be a major contribution towards, inter alia, the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons.

In the longer term such a zone, to be real and effective, would have to be freely negotiated and agree to by all parties in the region.

The Gulf crisis demonstrated to what extent excessive accumulation of arms, as well as proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles capable of delivering those weapons, could endanger peace and security.

Security Council resolution 687 (1991) recalled the objective of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East. It also pointed to the threat that all weapons of mass destruction pose to peace and security in the area, as well as to the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of such weapons.

The Twelve take note of the letter dated 21 July 1991 of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations concerning the recent proposals an arms limitation and disarmament in the Middle East. Mention could also be made of the declarations of the representatives of the five States permanent members of the security Council concerning arms transfer and non-proliferation of July 1991 and October 1991.

The year 1191 has indeed been one in which quite a few initiatives were taken with implications for or concerning the Middle East.

A very important step would be for all States in the region to formalize their commitments to non-proliferation, for instance, by acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Joining the NPT and accepting full scope safeguards could certainly diminish suspicions concerning nuclear programmes. It would also have a confidence-building effect.

Full compliance with international obligations in necessary. There should be no fear of hidden nuclear arsenals or programmes. In this context, the Twelve commend the efforts undertaken by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The validity and normative value of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention were reaffirmed in the final Declaration adopted on 27 September 1991 by the Third Review Conference of the Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. That Declaration clearly stated the determination of States Parties to exclude completely the possibility of the use of bacteriological agents and toxins as weapons. States Parties also expressed their belief that universal adherence to the Convention would enhance international peace and security,

The Twelve would like to take this opportunity to call on all States in the region of the Middle East to become parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

As a biological weapons capability was clearly a possibility in the Middle East - witness the recent events in the Gulf - it appears to the Twelve that all States in the region should have a particularly keen interest in full accession to the Convention.

The Third Review Conference of the biological and toxin weapons Convention took the initiative of investigating the possibility and means of verification of the Convention. The Twelve welcome the establishment of an Ad Hoc Group of Governmental Experts, open to all States parties, to identify and examine potential verification measures from a scientific and technical standpoint.

The negotiations on a multilateral convention an the complete and effective prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons and on their destruction are progressing steadily in the Conference an Disarmament in Geneva. Indeed, part of the negotiators, mandate is that they should strive to achieve a final agreement on the convention in 1992. The Twelve fervently hope that all States in the Middle East will actively contribute to the negotiations and will, in the end, accede to the convention.

Universal accession will be an important element for the convention. Accession by all States in the Middle East, an area where chemical weapons have been used on several occasions in the recent past, would contribute to the security of the region and of the world as a whole.

The call to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction merits full support from the international community. The Twelve are pleased that such a call is now also reflected in the eighth preambular paragraph of draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1. This paragraph goes even further as, through its reference to general and complete disarmament, it involves conventional weapons also.

In conclusion, the Twelve express the hope that the Middle East will embark on the road of area control and disarmament. The Madrid Conference demonstrated that all the parties involved in the Arab-Israel conflict can sit together at the conference table. Let us here in this forum do our share as well.

Mr. YATIV (Israel): For over a decade Israel has been proposing, and has joined others in proposing, a nuclear-weapon-free none in the Middle East. Moreover, throughout the years, Israel has also joined the consensus of the General Assembly on this item, because it supports the general concept. This year, as well, Israel has chosen to join the consensus in spite of the introduction of some additional elements in the draft resolution. First of all, Israel wishes to register once again its traditional reservation concerning to the draft resolution, and to reiterate the modalities that it deems to be crucial: direct negotiations and mutually satisfactory arrangements in the first instance, to be supplemented thereafter by International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. In Israel's view, a credible nuclear-weapon-free zone agreed by the States of the region is a prerequisite for the removal of the danger of any further war. Israel wishes to renew its call for the implementation of this proposal and for basing it upon these modalities.

The additional elements introduced into this year's draft resolution include, inter alia, a new provision in the preamble, welcoming the establishment in the region of the Middle East of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. In this regard, Israel wishes to state once again its position that weapons of mass destruction are all those weapons that can kill civilians indiscriminately. They include an abundance of conventional weapons, as is recognized in a report by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly:

The Gulf war has borne out how true this is. It is now recognized that menacing quantities of conventional arms cannot be separated from other means of mass destruction. Israel faced an existential threat during the Gulf war, and it cannot blithely disregard the lessons of the recent past inasmuch as they pertain to its security. Therefore, I should like to emphasis that the phrase "towards the goal of general and complete disarmament", mentioned in both the preamble and operative paragraph 6 of draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1, applies to conventional weapons as well as to other types of weapons. Moreover, it should be correctly understood that this would entail a direct and free process of negotiations among the regional parties. As regards the addition of operative paragraph 7, I wish to draw the attention of the First Committee to the incipient face-to-face talks that will hopefully provide a suitable forum also for dealing with arms-control issues. We believe that everything should be done to encourage negotiations among the States directly concerned, and that the United Nations, when considering further steps in the framework of this provision, should be mindful of "the evolving situation in the Middle East" - the words used in this paragraph.

The CHAIRMAN: The Committee will now take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East".

I call on the Secretary of the Committee.

Mr. KHERADI (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.l was Introduced by the representative of Egypt at the 34th meeting of the First Committee, on 12 November 1991.

The CHAIRMAN: The sponsor of this draft resolution has expressed the wish that it be adopted without a vote. If I hear no objection I shall take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.

Draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1 was adopted.

The PRESIDENT: I shall now call on those representatives who wish to explain their position on the draft resolution just adopted.

Mr. WATANABE (Japan): I wish to explain Japan's vote on draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.30, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-Weapon-free zone in South Asia", which was adopted yesterday, and on draft resolution A/C.1/46/L.35/Rev.1, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East", which has just been adopted.

It has always been the view of the Government of Japan that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, in South Asia and in Latin America - or in any other region for that matter - would contribute to the objective of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to the peace and security of the region in question.

At the same time, Japan considers that the establishment of such a zone would not contribute to the strengthening of the security of the region in question unless certain conditions were met. Let me enumerate some of the most basic conditions. The establishment of such a nuclear-weapon-free zone with appropriate verification measures should be agreed upon at the initiative of the countries in the region and with the voluntary consent of all the countries concerned, including the nuclear-weapon States. Also, a nuclear-weapon-free zone should be established in such a way that it would not jeopardize the peace and security of other regions and would be in accordance with the principles of international law. Furthermore, adherence to the non-proliferation Treaty by all the countries of the region in question would be highly desirable in creating such a zone.

The meeting rose at 1.05 p.m.

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