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        General Assembly
8 November 1999

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-fourth session
First Committee
25 th Meeting
Monday, 8 November 1999, 10 a.m.
New York

Chairman : Mr. Gonzalez ..................................... (Chile)

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

Agenda items 64, 65 and 67 to 85 ( continued)

Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all items


Mr. Al-Anbaki (Iraq) ( spoke in Arabic): My delegation wishes to comment on draft resolutions A/C.1/54/L.7/Rev.1 and L.8/Rev.1.

My delegation wishes to stress the importance of the two draft resolutions under consideration in the context of the maintenance of international and regional peace and security and that of nuclear disarmament. Numerous resolutions adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on these subjects have reaffirmed the primary importance accorded to the risk of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in our region. Various resolutions have reaffirmed the following principles.

First, ensuring security and stability in the Middle East necessitates the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction by turning the Middle East region into a zone free from nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons, in accordance with paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

Secondly, the fact that the Israeli nuclear programme remains outside the non-proliferation regime, and the fact that Israel continues to refuse to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or to place its nuclear facilities under the full-scope safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency constitute a threat to Arab national security. They detract from the credibility and universality of the NPT. The consolidation of the fait accompli by compelling all the States of the region, with the sole exception of Israel, to adhere to the non-proliferation regime constitutes a grave and unacceptable imbalance that threatens the security and stability of the region and cannot be accepted.

Thirdly, the Security Council, in view of its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, is called upon to ensure the universal implementation of all the provisions pertaining to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons without any double standards. It must take the necessary steps to achieve that objective in accordance with Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The Council is called upon also to provide effective and comprehensive security assurances for the non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

My delegation would also like to point out in particular the call in the fifth preambular paragraph of the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East, which calls for the prohibition of military attacks on nuclear facilities. Both the precedent established by Israel in 1981 by attacking fully safeguarded Iraqi nuclear facilities, and the fact that this precedent has gone unpunished, must compel the international community to seriously consider the elaboration of a binding international convention prohibiting such attacks.

Lastly, my delegation expresses its reservations on the paragraphs which refer to the political settlement process in the Middle East. We deem these paragraphs to be serving the objectives of the occupiers.

Mr. Al-Ahmed (Saudi Arabia) ( spoke in Arabic): The possession of nuclear weapons and the existence of such weapons is a cause of deep concern for peoples and nations because they constitute a hurtful threat to people and to the whole of mankind, and to the survival of civilization.

Aware of the gravity and of the dangers posed by these weapons, the international community has accorded them top priority in its disarmament efforts, towards their control, limitation and elimination. This is done through the adoption by the General Assembly and the Security Council, as well as the disarmament machinery, of a number of resolutions relevant to this subject. They all call for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions of the world. This is a step in the right direction, towards the ultimate elimination of all these weapons.

In this context, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has firmly and consistently held to its principled position which supports all efforts aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons in various parts of the world, and in particular in the Middle East region. My country yearns to see that region as a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction, without exception, and foremost among which of course are nuclear weapons.

Proceeding from this premise, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon the only State in the region, namely Israel, which has not yet acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to take the necessary practical and urgent steps to adhere to that Treaty in accordance with the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council. All its nuclear activities and facilities must be placed under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency in order for the Middle East region to be turned into a zone free from nuclear weapons, and also for the establishment of an international community where security and stability prevail and where all peoples peacefully coexist for the good of all humanity.


Mr. Ogunbanwo (Nigeria): My delegation is aware of the global guidelines laid down by the General Assembly on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Those guidelines have been emphasized again through the 1999 session of the Disarmament Commission. We would especially like to cite aspects of the guidelines which state that the extension of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at, especially in regions of tension such as the Middle East, represents a significant contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Bearing in mind those guidelines, the General Assembly has been actively engaged in finding ways of establishing a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone. We have noted that all General Assembly resolutions on this subject have been adopted by consensus, and what remains now is how to implement them. My delegation has high hopes that the revived Middle East peace process will have a positive and catalytic political impact on the efforts to implement Assembly resolutions on the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.

When the States of the Middle East are ready to implement the General Assembly resolution on the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, they will find that there are lessons to be learned from the way their brothers and sisters from Africa successfully concluded the African Nuclear-Weapon- Free Zone Treaty, the Treaty of Pelindaba, whose members include certain States in the Middle East.


The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): I call now on the Secretary of the Committee.

Mr. Lin Kuo-Chung (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.7/Rev.1, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East", was introduced by the representative of Egypt at the Committee’s 24th meeting, on 5 November.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): The sponsors of draft resolution L.7/Rev.1 have expressed the wish that it be adopted without a vote. If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.

Draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.7/Rev.1 was adopted.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): I now call upon those representatives who wish to explain their position on the draft resolution just adopted.

Mr. Soufan (Lebanon) ( spoke in Arabic): Lebanon is happy to join the consensus of States in supporting the proposal calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Today, more than two decades after the first General Assembly resolution on this subject, we would like to reaffirm our support for it, hoping that the resolution will constitute a qualitative step towards establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East on the basis of United Nations resolutions and the principles on which they are based, including placing nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards regime.

Our support today for draft resolution L.7/Rev.1 emanates from two considerations. First, Lebanon is a Member that abides by the Non-Proliferation Treaty and this resolution today is an extension of that Treaty. Secondly, Lebanon knew years of war which ravaged its land and hurt its people, and was an arena for the testing of various conventional destructive weapons. Today Lebanon enjoys internal peace and reaps its rewards and is keen to save the region and its peoples from the scourge of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear destruction which spare neither the aggressor nor the victim. We say that fully convinced of the need to activate the peace negotiations in the Middle East in order to reach a comprehensive and just peace in the region based on Security Council resolutions and the Madrid process framework and the principle of land for peace, because a real, credible peace is the main bastion of security, and not qualitative and quantitative nuclear armament and military supremacy.

Mr. Becher (Israel): Israel joined the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.7/Rev.1, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East", as it has done for the past 19 years, notwithstanding some substantive reservations regarding the modalities of the draft resolution.

Israel believes in the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Such a zone should also be free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as ballistic missiles. As has been recognized by the international community, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone should be based on arrangements freely arrived at by all the States of the region concerned. Israel believes that such a zone can be established only through direct negotiation between States of the region after they recognize each other and have established full, peaceful relations between them. It cannot be established other than by the parties themselves, nor can it be established in a situation where some of the States maintain that they are in a state of war with each other and refuse in principle to maintain peaceful relations. In this context it should be recalled that in the Middle East, unlike other regions in the world where a nuclear-weapon- free zone has been established, there is a continuing threat against the very existence of one State in the region, Israel. This has a critical impact on the region’s ability to establish such a zone.

A consensus is defined as a process of making a decision by general and comprehensive agreement, assuming that this process has achieved general and comprehensive agreement through prior contacts, talks and negotiations. Any attempts to make changes unilaterally undermine this principle. Egypt’s attempt this year to propose an amendment to the draft resolution without Israel’s prior consent clearly contradicts the basic spirit of consensus. It is not a matter of intransigence, but rather a question of being taken for granted on such an issue known to be sensitive to both sides. The consensus we have maintained over the years symbolizes the delicate compromise that all sides have managed to live with. Israel itself has considered possible changes to the resolution but on reflection has preferred to keep the present consensus text despite its shortcomings, rather than open a Pandora’s box that might not be so easily closed.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): The Committee will now take action on draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.8/Rev.1. I now call on those representatives who wish to explain their position or vote before a decision is taken.

Mr. Grey (United States): Since the inception of this draft resolution the United States has opposed the text now entitled "The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East". We continue to consider it inappropriate to single out for criticism one State for its failure to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty at a time when the international community should be encouraging all the parties to the reinvigorated peace process to keep up the good work. It is particularly disturbing that one of the parties is instead, once again, singled out for criticism. My delegation will oppose this draft resolution and encourages other Members of the United Nations to consider these arguments carefully and not support it either.

Mr. Al-Hariri (Syrian Arab Republic) ( spoke in Arabic): I should like only to draw the attention of the Secretariat to a mistake at the bottom of the page in the Arabic version. Where it states that it is "On behalf of States Members", in Arabic there should be no definite article.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): The necessary corrections will be made.

Mr. Becher (Israel): We are again facing a vote on the draft resolution entitled "The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East" which is discriminatory, unjustified and a politically motivated draft resolution. No other United Nations Member State, including those who for their sovereign national security reasons found it impossible to become parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has ever been subject to so much repeated invective and to so many condemnatory resolutions. Singling out the Middle East region and Israel is politically counter-productive in any process of confidence-building measures in the region and in the peace process.

The presentation of the draft resolution this year ignores many relevant facts, factors and ongoing processes that should have brought about the decision to drop this draft resolution once and for all.

We are all aware of the existing risks of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Yet the sponsors of this draft resolution have not only preferred to ignore those countries that pose a real threat to regional and global security but have also embraced some of those proliferators in the Middle East as co-sponsors of this draft resolution. While the real proliferators in the Middle East are well known to the Committee, this draft resolution focuses entirely on one single country that has never threatened its neighbours or abrogated its obligations under any disarmament treaty or convention to which it is a signatory or a party.

The draft resolution neglects the fact that the real risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East emanates from countries which, despite being parties to the NPT, are engaged in ongoing efforts to acquire nuclear military capabilities. For example the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and IAEA Action Team reports have proven time and time again that the obligations under the NPT undertaken by Iraq were intentionally and maliciously trampled on. Furthermore, some sponsoring States from the region have used weapons of mass destruction against their neighbours and even against their own people. It is almost surrealistic to see those States voting in favour of this draft resolution.

The peace process in the Middle East has gained momentum in the past few months. Still, it is a fragile process at present and requires a lot of nurturing and support from the world community. The present draft resolution does exactly the opposite. Supporting it helps to maintain the atmosphere of hostility and animosity and to hinder the peace process. I call upon all delegations which support the peace process to reconsider their traditional stance on this matter and to vote against this draft resolution.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): I call now on the Secretary of the Committee.

Mr. Lin Kuo-Chung (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.8/Rev.1, entitled "The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East", was introduced by the representative of Egypt on behalf of States Members of the United Nations that are members of the League of Arab States, at the Committee’s 23rd meeting, on 4 November.

The Committee will now proceed to vote on draft resolution L.8/Rev.1.

A recorded vote was taken.

Draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.8/Rev.1 was adopted by 125 votes to 3, with 11 abstentions.

[Subsequently the delegations of Benin, Guyana and Suriname informed the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour.]

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): I now call on those delegations wishing to explain their position or vote on the draft resolution just adopted.

Mr. Al-Hariri (Syrian Arab Republic): Syria was one of the first countries in the Middle East to support turning the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons, and it continues that support. It works seriously to eliminate nuclear weapons because of their destructive effects which threaten international peace and security in the region and in all parts of the world.

On more than one occasion we have referred to the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East which is supported by Israel, which tries to impose its expansionist policies on the region based on this. My country is concerned with this problem because of its effects on the Middle East, and therefore we strongly support the draft resolution. However, my country would have liked the tenth preambular paragraph not to have included a reference to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Therefore my country considers itself not to be a party to that paragraph because we are not a party to that Treaty.

Ms. Kunadi (India): The Indian delegation abstained in the vote on the draft resolution. We wish to clarify our position on the sixth preambular paragraph, which makes a reference to universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, on which our position is well known and remains unchanged. Besides, we believe that the focus of this resolution should necessarily be limited to the region it purports to address.

India considers that the multifarious issues in this draft resolution have received widespread consideration in the international community and hopes that progress will be enabled on the issues involved in the coming years through positive contributions by the concerned States of the region.

The Chairman ( spoke in Spanish): Does any other delegation wish to explain its vote or position? I see none. I have an announcement to make. At the request of the sponsors, draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.12/Rev.1 will be the last to be considered of those draft resolutions on which action must be taken today.

The Committee will now take action on draft resolution A/C.1/54/L.23. Does any delegation wish to explain its position or vote before a decision is taken?

Mr. Al-Hariri (Syrian Arab Republic) ( spoke in Arabic): My delegation wishes to explain its vote on draft resolution L.23. My country has noted, since the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, with its future obligations on all Member States, that the legitimate concern of non-nuclear-weapon States cannot be ignored. They are the majority of countries of the world, and they have no guarantees against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. They are not allowed to have advanced technology in all the forms that are indispensable to their advanced development.

What happened at the Review and Extension Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is still evidence that the nuclear-weapon States are not willing to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. The important and just observations made on the text agree on the fact that it does not include any obligation on the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their arsenals in a reasonable period of time. Nor does the text refer to the illegitimacy of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It does not emphasize the need to achieve a universal ban on nuclear proliferation in all its forms and aspects. These observations also agree that the text is limited to banning nuclear explosions, without including laboratory tests and tests for the production of new types of such weapons. They also agree that the system of on-site verification and inspection may open the door to arbitrary misuse for political purposes of data collected by national monitoring systems.

What is more surprising in the text is that it allows signatory States to take actions against non-signatory States, which might include measures to be taken by the Security Council under Chapter VII and the violation of the sovereign right of States to accede to the Treaty.

Syria is still considering these obvious loopholes with great concern, especially as the inclusion of the name of Israel in the list of the Middle East and South Asia has not happened before and establishes a precedent. The situation in the Middle East resulting from Israel having nuclear weapons, its attempt to develop these armaments and its refusal to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards systems is impeding attempts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and is subjecting the region to the threats of nuclear weapons from Israel — without any international reaction.

For all these reasons, Syria cannot support the draft resolution and will abstain in the voting on it.


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