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

Fifty-fourth General Assembly
First Committee
4th Meeting (PM)
12 October 1999


General Debate Continues, with Focus on Need To Ratify
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Nuclear Testing in South Asia


AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said ... that since 1974 the First Committee and the General Assembly had been adopting annually a resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon- free zone in the Middle East. Such zones had spread worldwide and numerous new initiatives had been launched. Regrettably, the case in the Middle East had remained stagnant. Despite the severe frustration over that issue, his country remained committed to the earliest establishment of such a zone in the region and, indeed, of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. In the Middle East, such a zone could be an essential confidence-building measure, leading to a just, comprehensive, stable and lasting peace in the Middle East. Only one country in the region was widely suspected of possessing a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons; only one operated unsafeguarded nuclear installations and facilities; only
one had refused to join the NPT or even to discuss the nuclear issue. It was Israel -- which had singled itself out in that regard.

Nonetheless, he said the reaction of the international community to that dangerous and provocative situation had remained mitigating, at best. Double standards in the pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation were dangerous and counter-productive. The international community should clearly choose whether it was for or against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There was no "in between" and no room for hypocrisy. He failed to understand how certain countries could fail to condemn and take certain action against an outlaw State. The arguments employed by Israel to justify its erroneous position against adherence to the NPT and the safeguarding of its nuclear facilities were pretexts to shield its nuclear policies, programmes and ambitions.


MOHAMED AL-HASSAN (Oman) said his country was a peace-loving nation and, as such, had adhered to all multilateral treaties dealing with weapons of mass destruction, including the NPT, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, and the CTBT, which it just signed on 23 September. The time had come for the First Committee to revitalize its work and change its orientation in terms of its agenda. The new millennium, which marked a historic turn in the history of mankind, had necessitated new thinking.

He said that, in the Middle East, Israeli nuclear programmes remained a disturbing issue. Thus, he could not help but call on the Israeli Government to adhere, as soon as possible, to the NPT, and to place all its nuclear facilities under strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. On the question of small arms, his country supported the convening of a conference in 2001, but preparations had to be thorough and take into account the views of many States.


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