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


Fifty-eighth General Assembly
First Committee
16th Meeting (AM)
GA/DIS/3262
27 October 2003


URGENCY OF EARLY ENTRY INTO FORCE OF NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY, STRESSED IN ONE OF 15 TEXTS APPROVED BY DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE

Eight Drafts Require Recorded Vote

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Background

When the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its third and final phase of work, namely action on all draft resolutions and decisions, it had before it texts related to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, outer space and conventional weapons. 

Expected to be acted on under cluster I, which concerns nuclear weapons, are drafts on:  United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers in the context of nuclear disarmament; missiles; consolidation of the regime established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco). 

Also:  assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; dumping of radioactive waste; nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; reducing nuclear danger; convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons; nuclear-weapon-free zone in the southern hemisphere; fissile material negotiations; Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). 

Action is also expected on cluster 2 drafts, which concern other weapons of mass destruction, namely on the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  On cluster 3, outer space, action is expected on the draft resolution on prevention of an outer space arms race.  The Committee is also expected to take up a draft in cluster 4, which concerns conventional weapons, namely, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. 

Draft Summaries

Cluster I

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The Assembly, according to a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.22) would urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required to implement that proposal, and, as a means of promoting that objective, invite the countries concerned to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). 

It would call on the countries of the region that had not done so, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  It would note the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations and the activities of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East, including the establishment of the zone. 

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Action on texts

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said his delegation would join the consensus on the draft resolution concerning the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.22), as it had done for over 20 years.  Nevertheless, he expressed certain reservations.  For example, he maintained that any policies towards weapons should be made within the context of the peace process.  Additionally, while supporting a region free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as well as ballistic missiles, the political realities there mandated a practical approach featuring confidence-building and conventional and non-conventional arms control measures.

Stressing that nuclear-weapon-free zones should be based on agreements that were freely arrived at by all States involved, he emphasized that such an agreement could only come into being after all States in the region had recognized each other and established peaceful relations.  It could not be attained when States were officially at war with each other.  Unlike the environments governing other nuclear-weapon-free zones in the world, the Middle East was characterized by continuing threats against one State, namely Israel.

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Turning to the draft resolution on the CTBT (document A/C.1/58/L.52), he said the fact that his country had signed the Treaty demonstrated its support of the international community’s efforts to prevent proliferation.  He added that Israel had played an active role in negotiating the Treaty and contributed to its drafting.  Therefore, he would vote in favour of the draft, despite concerns with wording in operative paragraph 1, which would have the Assembly stress the importance and urgency of signature and ratification, without delay and conditions and in accordance with constitutional processes, to achieve the Treaty’s earliest entry into force.  After all, progress still had to be made on issues such as the readiness of the verification regime, fortified by a robust system to detect non-compliance.  Also, several political issues remained unresolved in the Middle East, in part because several States in the region had not accepted the CTBT.

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The draft resolution on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/58/L.22) was approved without a vote. 

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In a separate vote on the draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere (document A/C.1/58/L.38), the last three words of operative paragraph 5, which read “and South Asia”, were approved by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 2 against (India, Pakistan), with 11 abstentions (Annex VI).

Operative paragraph 5 as a whole -- which would have the Assembly welcome the steps taken to conclude further nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned, and call upon all States to consider all relevant proposals, including those reflected in its resolutions on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East and South Asia -- was approved by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to one against (India), with 11 abstentions (Annex VII).

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The representative of Syria, speaking on the draft on the CTBT, said that his country had repeatedly reaffirmed that such an important treaty required the utmost attention, particularly in view of the binding responsibility it placed on the shoulders of all Member States.  The majority of countries, which were non-nuclear-weapon States, deserved to receive assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Those States had not been allowed to obtain advanced technology that would expedite development and progress.  The important observations made so far on the Treaty had all conceded that its text had not included any commitment towards the non-nuclear-weapon States regarding the use or threat of use of such weapons against them.  That did not help add a global aspect to the Treaty and hindered its ratification. 

Also, he added, the text was confined to nuclear tests and did not mention the qualitative and quantitative development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.  It had also concluded that on-site verification might open the door to abuse of those rules against certain national regimes and intransigence in the application of those rules.  What was most striking in the text was that it gave the right to non-signatories to conduct verification and inspection in signatory States.  That ran counter to the United Nations Charter and violated the sovereign right of non-nuclear-weapon States.  Those major gaps in the Treaty’s text were of serious concern. 

In view of the explosive situation in the Middle East, he recalled that Israel unilaterally possessed nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, and was working to develop those, qualitatively and quantitatively.  It had also refused to accede to the NPT or to subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  All of that had hindered the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and had exposed the region and the entire world to the threats of Israel’s nuclear weapons, without any adequate response.

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Annexes

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ANNEX IX

Vote on Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

The draft resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (document A/C.1/58/L.52) was approved by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 1 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, 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, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  United States.

Abstaining:  Colombia, India, Mauritius, Syria.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan.

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