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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
First Committee
20th Meeting (PM)
GA/DIS/3266
3 November 2003

NUCLEAR WEAPON STATES CALLED ON TO HALT IMPROVEMENT, STOCKPILING OF NUCLEAR WARHEADS, IN TEXT APPROVED BY FIRST COMMITTEE

Four Resolutions Recommended to General Assembly;
Others Address Middle East, Environmental Norms, Small Arms Traffic


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Background

When the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its third and final phase of work, namely, action on all draft resolutions and decisions, it had before it texts related to nuclear weapons; conventional weapons; and other disarmament measures.

Expected to be acted on under cluster 1, which concerns nuclear weapons, are three draft resolutions dealing with the following topics:  a conference of States parties and signatories of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; and nuclear disarmament.

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Draft Summaries

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According to a draft resolution submitted by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.23), the Assembly, noting that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East that had not yet become party to the NPT, would call upon it to accede to the Treaty without further delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, and to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

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Action on texts

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said the draft concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.23) was blatantly one-sided, contentious, and divisive.  In addition, it did not enhance, but rather undermined confidence, between the States of the region.  Since the draft had been first introduced, many alarming international developments, related to nuclear proliferation, had affected the region.  For example, efforts by some countries to obtain missiles and weapons of mass destruction were now evident.

The bias of the draft resolution stemmed from its failure to acknowledge that the real risk of nuclear proliferation came from countries that, despite the treaties they had signed and ratified, were not complying with their obligations as parties.  Rather than ignoring reality, the text should, therefore, focus on objective ways to address situations, as they existed.  Because the draft resolution focused on only one country that had never threatened its neighbours, namely, Israel, it was counterproductive and hurt the credibility of the First Committee.  He added that the fact that some countries found the draft balanced was a source of deep disappointment.  After all, discrimination should not be practised in the Committee.

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The representative of Cuba, also speaking before the vote, said he would vote in favour of the draft on nuclear disarmament (A/C.1/58/L.47).  Declaring that the elimination of nuclear weapons remained the highest disarmament-related priority in the world, he said his country had always supported initiatives to achieve that end.  Recalling that the recent summit of the Non-Aligned Movement had expressed profound concern over the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, he appealed to the Conference on Disarmament to set up, on a priority basis, a special committee to deal with nuclear disarmament, and begin negotiations on a programme of work to achieve the elimination of such weapons in stages.

Turning to the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.23), the Committee first took up preambular paragraph 6, which, among other things, called on those remaining States not parties to the Treaty on the NPT to accede to it, thereby accepting an international legally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons and to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all their nuclear activities. 

The Committee voted to retain preambular paragraph 6 by a vote of 142 in favour to 2 against, (India, Israel) with 11 abstentions (Annex I). 

The draft resolution as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Canada, India, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu) (Annex II).

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Explaining his vote on Middle East nuclear proliferation, the representative of Canada said his country had long supported the universalization of the NPT, and in that connection, had long called on India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to and abide by that Treaty.  He supported the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference, which called on all States not yet party to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States.  The draft in its operational portion, however, had failed to address his concerns about compliance with the NPT.  And like last year’s draft, had failed to deal appropriately with both adherence to, and full compliance with, the NPT.

Also speaking on that text, the representative of Pakistan said he had supported that draft, but had reservations about the sixth preambular paragraph, which called for the universalization of the NPT.  Pakistan was not a party to that Treaty, and, as a State that possessed nuclear weapons, it could not accede to the NPT or accept such provisions.

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ANNEX I

Vote on Sixth Preambular Para/Middle East

The sixth preambular paragraph of the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.23) was retained by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 2 against, with 11 abstentions as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:  India, Israel

Abstaining:  Bhutan, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Vanuatu

Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan

ANNEX II

Vote on Middle East Nuclear Proliferation

The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.23) was approved by a recorded vote of 146 in favour to 3 against, with 10 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Against:  Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, United States

Abstaining:  Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu

Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan

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For information media - not an official record