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Agenda items 62 to 80
Action on all draft resolutions and decisions submitted under disarmament and international security agenda items
The Chairman : The First Committee will now proceed to take decisions on the draft resolutions contained in cluster 1, namely, “Nuclear weapons”, and, as appeared in informal working paper No. 1, beginning with draft decision A/C.1/58/L.2.
I would like to remind delegations that the Committee will take action on all draft resolutions contained in informal working paper No. 1 one after another and without interruption — of course, with the Committee’s cooperation and assistance.
Before doing so, I shall call upon delegations wishing to explain their positions or votes on all draft decisions and resolutions contained in informal working paper No. 1.
Mr. Bar (Israel): I am going to give several explanations of vote on draft resolutions under cluster 1, entitled “Nuclear weapons”. The first will be with regard to draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.22, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.
Israel will join the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.22, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, as it has done for over 20 years — notwithstanding substantive and important reservations regarding certain elements in the draft resolution. The policy of Israel has always maintained that the nuclear issue, as well as all regional security issues — conventional and non-conventional — should be dealt with within the context of the peace process. Israel supports the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East that would also be free of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles. Israel believes that the political realities in the Middle East mandate a practical step-by-step approach. That should begin with modest confidence-building measures, followed by the establishment of peaceful relations and the reaching of reconciliation, and possibly complemented by conventional and non-conventional arms control measures. That process could eventually lead to more ambitious goals, such as the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
As the international community has recognized, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones should be based on arrangements freely arrived at among all the States of the region concerned. Israel believes that such a zone can only be established through direct negotiation between the States of the region, after they have recognized each other and have established full peaceful and diplomatic relations among one another. It cannot be established in situations where some of the States maintain that they are in a state of war with each other, refuse in principle to maintain peaceful relations with Israel or even recognize its right to exist.
In that context, it should be recalled that in the Middle East, unlike other regions of the world where nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established, there are continuing threats in the region, and beyond, against the very existence of one State: Israel. Those threats are multiplied by the reckless behaviour of some States concerning the export of weapons-of-mass-destruction-related technologies and discrepancies between the commitments of those States and their actual behaviour. Those circumstances and the acknowledged record of non-compliance with international obligations by certain States have a critical impact on the region’s ability to embark on a joint process of regional security-building that could eventually lead to a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
In view of the present reality, our efforts in the context of this draft resolution should be focused on the creation of a stable environment of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Israel will continue to dedicate all its efforts to achieve that goal. We call upon our neighbours to do the same.
My next explanation of vote pertains to draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.49, regarding a fissile material cut-off treaty. Israel is going to join the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.49 because we believe that the objective of a fissile material cut-off treaty is subsumed in the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. I elaborated upon our approach to that concept in the explanation of vote I made on draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.22, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”. In practical terms, assessing the modalities of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.49 cannot be done in isolation from the peace process in all its aspects and the overall effort to reduce tension, curb proliferation and limit armaments in our region. In addition, I would note that the non-compliance of States with their international obligations and the unchecked dissemination of nuclear-fuel-cycle capabilities have become among the most pressing challenges in the nuclear non-proliferation field.
My last explanation of vote is with regard to draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.52, which pertains to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Israel signed CTBT in September 1996. That decision demonstrated its long-standing policy to support the efforts of the international community to prevent proliferation, taking into consideration the specific characteristics of the Middle East and its security situation.
Furthermore, Israel played an active role throughout the negotiation of the Treaty in Geneva, and contributed conceptually, technically and politically to its drafting. Since the establishment of the Preparatory Committee, in November 1996, Israel has played a major part in the endeavours to develop the elements of the CTBT verification regime, including the practical procedures to be adopted in the operational manuals by which the Treaty will be implemented. Israel has decided to vote in favour of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.52 because of the importance it attaches to the objectives of CTBT, notwithstanding our reservations regarding some of the wording in operative paragraph 1.
Israel remains committed to the objectives of the CTBT. We would like to emphasize, however, that progress still has to be made on several important issues. First, progress must be made in the development and readiness of the verification regime. In our view, its completion constitutes a prerequisite to entry into force, as required by the first paragraph of article IV of the Treaty. The verification regime should provide for a robust system that is, on the one hand, as effective as possible to detect non-compliance with the basic obligations of the Treaty and, on the other hand, be immune to abuse and allow every signatory State to protect its national security interests. Those principles guide Israel in the development of the CTBT verification regime.
In addition, several salient political issues remain unresolved, in particular those related to the geographical region of the Middle East and South Asia, whose States are also referred to as the MESA group. Those problems are further compounded by the lack of acceptance of the CTBT by several States in the Middle East. Moreover, we regret the tolerance shown by other signatory States towards the attempts that have been made to block or bypass the functioning of the MESA group. Such attempts deviate from the letter and spirit of the Treaty and, if left unattended, may cause serious complications in the future. Lastly, we have concerns about the negative dynamics evolving in our region, where certain signatory States are not fully cooperating with the efforts to complete and test elements of the verification regime’s international monitoring system, thereby impeding the pace of developing that element in the verification regime.
The Chairman: The Committee will now proceed to take action on draft resolution A/C.1.58/L.22.
I give the floor to the Secretary of the Committee to conduct the voting.
Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): The Committee will now proceed to take a decision on the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/58/L.22, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.
This draft resolution was introduced by the representative of Egypt on behalf of Member States of the United Nations members of the League of Arab States at the Committee’s 14th meeting, held on 23 October 2003.
The sponsors of the draft resolution are contained in document A/C.1/58/INF/2.
The Chairman : The sponsors of draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.22 have expressed the wish that the draft resolution be adopted by the Committee without a vote. If I hear no objection, I will take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.
Draft resolution A/C.1/58/L.22 was adopted.
The Chairman : I shall now call upon those delegations wishing to explain their positions or votes after the taking of decisions on all draft decisions and draft resolutions.
Mr. Alhariri (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...
We also reject the inclusion of Israel among the list of countries in the Middle East and South Asia. Despite the current explosive situation in the Middle East, Israel nevertheless unilaterally possesses nuclear weapons and all other kinds of weapons of mass destruction. It is working on the qualitative and quantitative improvement of those weapons, while refusing to accede to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or to place its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards regime.
All of that hinders and threatens the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. It also exposes both the region and the entire world to the threat posed by Israel’s nuclear weapons, without any international response.
The meeting rose at 12.15 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-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.