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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
First Committee
7th Meeting (PM)
GA/DIS/3253
13 October 2003

NON-PROLIFERATION OBLIGATIONS MARKED MORE OFTEN BY BREACH
THAN COMPLIANCE, DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE TOLD


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Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on all disarmament and related international security items.

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Statements

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IBRAHIM ASSAF (
Lebanon) said that recent events had demonstrated that disarmament was not taking the right path.  On the contrary, military expenditures had increased, weapons stockpiles were growing, and there were more and more wars.  A number of doctrines had appeared, which allowed war to be declared, and terrorists had obtained more weapons, which had led to attacks in various parts of the world.  Multilateralism was an essential principle in the area of disarmament negotiations.  The United Nations, a nearly universal forum, must take collective measures to prevent any threats to international peace and security.  He had not wished to understate the importance of bilateral talks; those complemented multilateralism, but did not replace it. 

He said that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East was a serious threat to international and regional peace and security.  The Committee, each year, adopted two resolutions on the nuclear threat.  Israel was the only country in the region that had still not acceded to the NPT.  The universality of that Treaty required accession by all States. 

Small arms and light weapons fuelled wars and conflicts because of their easy use and ready access, he said.  The illicit small arms trade and its spread threatened both victims and States, and also impeded development.  Effectively eliminating that scourge required dealing with the sources and causes of conflicts, first among them being foreign occupation.  Regarding the close relationship between disarmament and development, he noted that two thirds of the world’s population lived on less than $2 per day, while weapons expenditures had reached approximately $850 billion last year.  His Government had reduced its military expenditures as far as possible, to nearly zero.  The Defence Ministry’s budget allocated payment only for salaries and social welfare benefits. 

He said that landmines were a genuine humanitarian problem at the global level.  Some 90 States were affected by those weapons, which claimed 15,000 victims, mostly civilians, each year.  Landmines prevented development and the return of refugees.  Lebanon was suffering from landmines, because the Israeli occupation had left 450 landmines on its territory.  Thus, the Government was carrying out de-mining activities.  Transparency in the control of conventional and strategic weapons played an important role in consolidating international peace and security.  He would strive to have weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, included in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  

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AHMED OWN (Libya) ...

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He said that Israel was the only “regime” in the Middle East that was still outside those obligations, yet, according to many reports by many sources, Israel possessed nuclear weapons in the hundreds, with delivery means capable of reaching all Arab countries, as well as countries in Europe and Central Asia.  Many mass media sources this week had reported that the Israelis were developing submarines to fire those missiles.  That showed the seriousness of the situation, which was being deliberately ignored by some major States. 

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HASSAN HAMID HASSAN (Sudan) ...

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He reasserted the need for the nuclear Powers, through serious and urgent initiatives, to take steps to reduce weapons expenditures.  These must also provide security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  International peace must be consolidated.  Nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties were important, but those only covered 5 per cent of the world’s surface.  Further zones should be created, particularly in the Middle East.  Yet, despite that call, Israel refused to submit its nuclear installations to international control.  That threatened international peace and security and undermined regional stability.

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