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        General Assembly
29 November 1993


9th meeting
held on
Friday, 22 October 1993
at 3 p.m.
New York


Chairman: Mr. von WAGNER (Germany)



The meeting was called to order at 3.15 p.m.



43. Mr. AL-ATTAR (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the experience of the cold war had shown that security could not be achieved through armaments, which merely served to undermine it. The only logical alternative was collective security through the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, above all nuclear weapons, the strengthening of confidence-building measures and the reallocation of resources to development.

44. Despite the many obstacles that remained on the path to general and complete disarmament, there had been significant achievements over the past few decades, the most notable being the Convention on Chemical Weapons. At the Conference of States Parties to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and Other Interested States, held in Paris in 1989, the Syrian Arab Republic had been the first to make a formal proposal that the Middle East should become a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. Since his country believed that nuclear weapons were the most dangerous type of weapon of mass destruction threatening international peace and security, it was in favour of consolidating and building on the success of the Convention on Chemical Weapons by concluding a similar multilateral agreement on the prohibition of the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. In the post-cold-war era the international community was duty-bound to support genuine efforts aimed at the elimination of all types of nuclear weapons.

45. There had been high praise for the agreement reached in the Committee at the previous session concerning transparency in armaments and regional arms transfers. However, such measures could not be implemented in occupied territories, particularly when the occupying Power was capable of manufacturing and acquiring all types of weapons without any international control, while the territory under occupation was unable to receive the means for its self-defence, contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. A case in point was the Middle East, where Israel still occupied Arab territories and was impeding a comprehensive political settlement in the area. Moreover, Israel stubbornly refused to apply the system of IAEA safeguards to its nuclear installations and continued to develop and upgrade its nuclear programme, which was targeted at strategic points in the Middle East.

46. The main purpose of declaring the Middle East a zone free of all types of weapons of mass destruction was to relieve tension in the potentially explosive situation in the region caused by the continued occupation, to take practical steps towards disarmament which would extend to all States in the region without exception, and to enhance the prospects for the establishment of peace in the region. The initiative had, however, been rejected by Israel, which had not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The arms race in the Middle East could be curbed only by the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. The relevant measures must be comprehensive and fair and must be adopted on a non-discriminatory basis, under the supervision of the United Nations.

47. The Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral forum for negotiations on disarmament treaties, was daily becoming more important. The time had come to give serious consideration to the applications of States which had long sought membership of the Conference. His delegation hoped that the Conference would adopt the proposals on the matter before the end of the year and extend membership to those States which had applied. It welcomed the progress that had been made on nuclear testing at the latest session of the Conference.

48. The Syrian Arab Republic believed that the United Nations had a special role to play in all matters relating to disarmament. It hoped that specific measures would be taken to implement the provisions of the Charter in the interests of ensuring the sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic independence of States, putting an end to aggression and occupation, and securing for all peoples under foreign occupation the exercise of their right to self-determination and independence.

49. His country also believed it was necessary to enhance the efficiency of the First Committee by rationalizing its work. The Committee should devote particular attention to issues on which progress was possible. It should also undertake an overall scrutiny of all the draft resolutions before it and ensure their implementation.

50. His country had always supported United Nations resolutions and treaties on disarmament, particularly the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which it was a party. In February 1992 it had signed a safeguards agreement under that Treaty. It was also a party to the Biological Weapons Convention and was ready to take part in any international efforts to eliminate all forms of weapons of mass destruction. It had high hopes for the establishment of a peace which would lead to the comprehensive and just settlement of conflicts throughout the world. It also looked forward to general and complete disarmament, genuine development for third world countries and the establishment of a system of international relations based on the primacy of international law, observance of the Charter, dialogue, conciliation and cooperation.

51. Mr. AL-BUAINAIN (Qatar) said that peace, security and disarmament and the peaceful settlement of disputes should be based on specific fundamental principles: peaceful coexistence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and the prohibition of the use or threat of use of force. Due regard should also be paid to the right of all States to sovereignty, independence and social and economic development in accordance with the Charter and the provisions of international law. On that basis his country sought to ensure the incorporation of those principles into the life of its region.

52. Qatar welcomed the progress achieved in the Middle East peace talks, which it had supported since 1991. It also welcomed the agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel and hoped that it would lead to similar progress on every aspect of a comprehensive, genuine and just settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict which would ensure the security of all parties. That might well help Israel to abandon its nuclear weapons and accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, thus opening up the possibility of turning the whole Middle East region into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Qatar believed that all the States of the region would accede to the Treaty, thus ushering in the start of a new era - an era of peace.

53. The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would bring benefits to the countries of that region at the social and economic level, too. Those portions of State budgets currently allocated to arms expenditure and the maintenance of substantial defence forces could, if a state of peaceful coexistence prevailed, be directed to the development of the social and economic spheres in the interests of future generations. Although it was aware that the disarmament process was complicated, his country joined other States in calling for priority to be given to nuclear disarmament and hoped that during the last decade of the twentieth century it would be possible to achieve the elimination of all forms of weapons which threatened human survival. It also hoped that the process could be accompanied by other measures to increase transparency and openness. It supported the idea of a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, but urged that special efforts should be devoted to limiting the use not only of nuclear weapons but also of other weapons of mass destruction.

The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of the publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-794, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.

Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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