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


GA/DIS/3153
26 October 1999

Fifty-fourth General Assembly
First Committee
16th Meeting (AM)

FIRST COMMITTEE DRAFT TEXT, INTRODUCED BY NEW ZEALAND,
CALLS FOR 'NEW AGENDA' IN NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Texts Also Introduced on CTBT, Outer Space, Middle East,
Military Information, Latin America, Information Security


A draft resolution introduced by the representative of Egypt, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, would have the Assembly call upon the only State in the region that was not Party to the NPT to accede to the Treaty without further delay. Further, it would call on that State to: not develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons; renounce possession of nuclear weapons; and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear materials and nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

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Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic discussion and consideration of all disarmament- and security-related draft resolutions. It is expected to hear the introduction of draft resolutions concerning: the need for an agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); prevention of an arms race in outer space; risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; objective information on military matters; the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco); and information and telecommunications in the context of international security.

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A draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/54/L.8) would have the Assembly call upon the only State in the region that was not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to accede to the Treaty without further delay. It would further call on that State to: not develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons; renounce possession of nuclear weapons; and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear materials and nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

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Statements

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ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) introduced a draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/54/L.8). He said the resolution had been the subject of intensive consultations and used neutral language, which simply stated facts. The reality was that the only State in the region not to have acceded to the NPT was Israel. It was also the only State in the region suspected of possessing a large nuclear arsenal. Israel's refusal to discuss the nuclear issue, or put its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, produced a dangerous and provocative situation.

Achievement of universal adherence to the NPT was a priority, and Israel's refusal to join or even to declare its intention to join the Treaty impeded such universality, he said. Continuation of that imbalance could only further aggravate security concerns in the region and undermine efforts to establish confidence-building measures, including the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Non-nuclear-weapon States in the region had no choice but to question their own security needs, in light of the threat from Israel. The tone of the text had changed from one of confrontation to cooperation and it was now Israel's turn to make a gesture by acceding to the NPT.

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