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The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda items 57, 58 and 60 to 73 ( continued)
Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items
The Chairman : In accordance with the programme of work and timetable, this morning the First Committee will proceed to the third phase of its work: action on all draft resolutions and draft decisions submitted under agenda items 57, 58 and 60 to 73.
As I informed the Committee at our most recent meeting, we will proceed this morning to take action on draft resolutions that appeared in informal working paper No. 1, namely, cluster 1, “Nuclear weapons”, starting with the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/57/L.4/Rev.1, entitled “ Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”.
In this connection, I would like to inform members that the Committee will also take a decision today on draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.28, entitled “ Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.
The Acting Chairman : I shall now call on those representatives who wish to explain their position on the resolution just adopted.
Mr. Atieh (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
The Syrian Arab Republic views such critical omissions with grave concern and categorically refuses the inclusion of Israel in the list of States of the Middle East and South Asia. In view of the tense situation in the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has nuclear weapons and all other forms of weapons of mass destruction, which it is seeking to develop both quantitatively and qualitatively. It refuses to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to subject its nuclear facilities to the verification and safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency. All of this is blocking efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and is subjecting the region to Israeli nuclear threat, while the international community fails to respond.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in September 1996. That decision demonstrated its longstanding policy of supporting the efforts of the international community to prevent proliferation, taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the Middle East and its security situation. Furthermore, Israel played an active role throughout the negotiations on the Treaty in Geneva and contributed conceptually, technically and politically to its drafting. Since the establishment of the Preparatory Committee in November 1996, Israel has played a major part in the endeavour to develop the elements of the CTBT verification regime, including the practical procedures to be adopted in the operational manuals by which the Treaty will be implemented.
Israel decided to vote in favour of draft resolution L.4/Rev.1 because of the importance it attaches to the objectives of the CTBT, notwithstanding its reservations regarding some of the wording in operative paragraph 1.
Israel remains committed to the objectives of the CTBT. However, we lament that only moderate progress has been made to date on several important issues: first, the development and readiness of the verification regime. In our view, its completion constitutes the prerequisite for entry into force, as required by the first paragraph of article 4 of the Treaty. The verification regime should provide for a robust system that is as effective as possible in detecting non-compliance with the basic obligations of the treaty. At the same time, it should be immune to abuse and allow every State signatory to protect its national security interests. Those principles guide Israel in the development of the CTBT verification regime.
In addition, several salient political issues remain unresolved, in particular those related to the geographical region of the Middle East and South Asia. Those problems are further compounded by the lack of acceptance of the CTBT by several States in the Middle East. In addition, we regret the tolerance shown by other States signatories towards attempts that have been made to block or to bypass the functioning of the Middle East and South Asia Group. Such attempts deviate from the letter and spirit of the Treaty, and, if left unattended, may cause serious complications in the future.
Lastly, we are concerned with regard to the negative dynamics evolving in our region, where certain States signatories are not fully cooperative with the efforts to complete and to test the international monitoring system, thus impeding the pace of development of this element of the verification regime.
Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): The Committee will now proceed to take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.28, submitted under agenda item 63, entitled “Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the region of the Middle East”. This draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Egypt at the 14th meeting of the Committee, on 17 October.
The Acting Chairman: The sponsors of the draft resolution have expressed the wish that the draft resolution be adapted by the Committee without a vote. If I hear no objection, I will take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.
Draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.28 was adopted.
The Acting Chairman : The representative of Israel wishes to speak. I give him the floor.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Since draft resolution A/C.1/57/L.28, entitled “The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”, has been adopted without a vote, I wish to give an explanation of Israel’s position, with your permission.
Israel joined the consensus of resolution A/C.1/57/L.28, “The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”, as it has done for the last 20 years, notwithstanding substantive and important reservations regarding certain elements in that resolution.
The policy of Israel has been that the nuclear issue, as well as all other regional security issues, whether conventional or non-conventional, should be dealt with in the full context of the peace process. Israel supports the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East that should also be free from chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles.
Israel believes that the political realities in the Middle East mandate a practical step-by-step approach. Such an approach should begin with modest confidence-building measures, followed by the establishment of peaceful relations in which reconciliation, possibly complimented by conventional and non-conventional arms control measures, could be achieved. This process could eventually lead to more ambitious goals, such as establishing a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
As the international community has recognized, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone should be based on arrangements freely arrived at by all States of the region concerned. Israel believes that such a zone can only be established through direct negotiations between the States of the region after they recognize each other and have established full peaceful and diplomatic relations. It can only be established by the parties themselves, not in a situation where some of the States maintain that they are in a state of war with each other, refusing the principle of maintaining relations with Israel or even recognizing its right to exist.
In this context, it should be recalled that in the Middle East, unlike other regions in the world where nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established, there are continuing threats by elements in the region and beyond against the very existence of one State in the region — Israel. This has a critical impact on the region’s ability to establish such a zone.
In view of the present reality, our efforts in the context of this resolution should be focused on the creation of a stable environment of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Israel will continue to dedicate all its efforts to achieve this goal; we call upon our neighbours to do the same.
The meeting rose at 12 noon.
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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.