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The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
Agenda items 57, 58 and 60 to 73 ( continued)
General debate on all disarmament and international security items
Mr. Niang (Senegal) (spoke in French ): ...
There is no greater duty to be performed by the United Nations than the maintenance of international peace and security, and that gives particular importance to the work of the First Committee. The Charter establishes the framework for a system of collective security, based on the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes and for the functioning of multilateral institutions for enforcing these principles. The progressive reduction of armaments and the achievement of the goal of general and complete disarmament are of the utmost significance in realizing these objectives. We believe it is important that these general principles be reaffirmed as the foundation for our efforts. No matter what may be the challenges and the perceived realities of the moment, the promotion of disarmament must play a central role in United Nations efforts to promote peace and cooperation among States.
But to begin with, we should acknowledge the seriousness of the problems we face. In the international situation, new challenges have surfaced as a result of acts of international terrorism. The military responses, which have introduced new dimensions to perceptions of international security, naturally will have an impact on the disarmament agenda. That is combined with the persistence of conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, and of some regional rivalries and disputes that continue to raise the spectre of war. At the diplomatic level, progress is stalled by the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament which, regrettably, had nothing to report beyond the continuance of consultations over its programme of work.
Mr. Own (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (spoke in Arabic): ...
More than three decades have elapsed since the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). During that period six review conferences have been held to review the results achieved in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and their reduction with a view to their total elimination and the establishment of a world free from nuclear weapons. Despite all this, the results achieved thus far are disappointing, indeed alarming. They portend catastrophes that will have grave consequences for all members of the international community. The number of States possessing nuclear weapons has increased. The number of nuclear warheads possessed by those countries is enough to destroy our planet thousands of times over. The destructive capability of these weapons has increased hundreds of times. Faced with this alarming fact, the international community, in particular the nuclear-weapon States, bear great responsibility to achieve the purposes and principles of the NPT. That can be achieved through demonstrating good will and entering into serious negotiations that aim irreversibly at the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements and instruments in the fields of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. They must honour all the commitments and undertakings made under the NPT and under the final declarations of the review conferences. That includes proceeding to conclude a multilateral agreement on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, as well as a commitment to implement article VI in the manner detailed in subparagraph 12 of paragraph 15 of the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference. They must also commit to the implementation of paragraph 4 (c) of the 1995 decision on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East region.
This Committee has since 1981 been dealing with an item called “Strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region”. My country has been calling for this region to be declared a region of peace and security so that all its peoples will be able to live in conditions of conciliation and mutual respect. We must all work for the Mediterranean to be a lake of peace and a meeting point of all cultures and civilizations. That can only be achieved through the complete withdrawal of all foreign military fleets and the closure of foreign military bases that no longer have a reason for existence, especially since the end of the cold war. Respect for the sovereignty of all countries of the region, non-interference in their internal affairs and settlement of all their disputes by peaceful means, through dialogue and without the use of force or the imposition of sanctions — these are all important requirements of the region. There is a need to put an end to foreign occupation and to ensure respect for the right of peoples to their self-determination and independence.
The Chairman : For the Committee to be able to complete its debate by 6 p.m. today, may I appeal to representatives to limit their statements to 10 minutes.
Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): ...
/... Thirdly, the establishment of zones free of weapons of mass destruction is also a basis for disarmament. The establishment of such zones is usually conducted on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned and on the basis of a national or international initiative. There should be more of these zones so that they cover more extensive demilitarized areas of the globe. On this basis the United Nations has proposed the establishment of zones free of nuclear weapons, one of them in the Middle East. However, this objective has remained a dead letter, in spite of 28 resolutions on this subject, the most recent being General Assembly resolution 56/21 of last year, calling on States of the region to refrain from manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons and to place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comprehensive safeguards.
In spite of the fact that it joined the consensus on this resolution, Israel has refused to implement it. In its reply to the Secretary-General in document A/57/214, Israel unambiguously declared: “General Assembly resolution 56/21 ... does not adequately reflect Israel’s position vis-à-vis the nuclear issue in the Middle East”.
So, it was as if the purpose of the General Assembly resolution were to reflect the will of Israel rather than for Israel to abide by the will of the General Assembly.
Fourthly, joining disarmament treaties and participating in international negotiations on the subject will strengthen international cooperation and create a favourable climate for the establishment of true partnerships. Based on that principle, my country and all States in the Middle East, except Israel, have become parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Israel, on the other hand, is turning a deaf ear to repeated international appeals calling on it to accede to that Treaty and to other instruments on the subject, and thus to ease tension in the Middle East. Its attitude also prevents the disarmament treaties from acquiring the necessary universality.
There is a close link between disarmament and development. In our world today, which has limited resources, money spent on arms has reached unimaginable levels, estimated at $850 billion to date. Such excessive spending constitutes a painful contradiction when we realize that one third of the planet’s inhabitants are living poorly on less than $2 a day. Certain types of weapons, such as mines, are dangerous in more than one way. Apart from the vast sums that are squandered on them and the human loss they cause, they are inflicting irreversible damage to certain land areas, precisely the areas needed for industrial and agricultural purposes. That is true of southern Lebanon where, during its occupation, Israel left behind some 450,000 landmines, according to United Nations estimates.
In conclusion, it is our sincere hope that the Committee will be successful in its disarmament mission and in its efforts to promote peace and security. The survival of States will need to be strengthened by the principles of international law, not by military capabilities, so there will be no need for weapons. As Montesquieu said, “Empires built by weapons will have to be defended by weapons”.
Mr. Issa (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): ...
It is with deep regret that we stand here at another session of the General Assembly while the Middle East has witnessed unprecedented and escalating violence. We see no progress towards achieving the universality of the NPT in the Middle East, an objective overwhelmingly supported by the wider body of the international community, whether in the context of the General Assembly or the NPT States Parties.
In fact the Middle East has witnessed more violence and escalation during the past year than any of us would have thought possible. The achievement of universal adherence to the NPT in the Middle East remains a priority for Egypt, as well as for the overwhelming membership of the international community, and we will continue to pursue this issue in the General Assembly through a draft resolution calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and another that calls upon Israel, the only State in the Middle East that has yet to accede to the NPT, to adhere to the Treaty.
In this context, we welcome the announcement by Iraq to allow the resumption of United Nations arms inspections on its soil, and its cooperation in these efforts is an essential step towards the lifting of sanctions that were imposed on Iraq more than a decade ago. We must also recall that those disarmament activities in Iraq were mandated by the United Nations Security Council in 1991 as steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Despite this fact, more than a decade has passed since the adoption of Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and no progress has been made towards achieving that essential objective. It is our firm belief that the credibility of the non-proliferation regime in the Middle East will depend to a significant extent on future action by the international community and by the Security Council towards realizing the wider objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation in the Middle East.
The Chairman: That concludes the list of speakers for this evening, but I now call on the representative of Iraq who wishes to speak in exercise of the right of reply.
Mr. Al-Matoq (Iraq) (spoke in Arabic): I have been compelled to speak in response to the statement made by the representative of Australia and the false accusations contained in it against my country. I should like to place some facts before you, Sir, and the Committee.
Thirdly, Iraq is not the one threatening international peace and security. Those that threaten international peace and security are the countries that are preparing for a war against Iraq and against the peoples and countries that oppose their aggressive policies. Why is the Zionist entity not branded as a threat to international peace and security in the Middle East? Israel’s daily attacks on Arab States and the Palestinian people, and its possession of all types of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons — do these not represent a threat to international peace and security? Is this not taking place with the support of its American allies?
The meeting rose at 5.35 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.