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


DC/2860
1 April 2003

Disarmament Commission
2003 Substantive Session
254th & 255th Meetings (AM & PM)

WORLD ORDER BASED ON EFFECTIVE ARMS CONTROL,
REJECTION OF UNILATERAL USE OF FORCE
CALLED FOR IN DISARMAMENT COMMISSION


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Background

The Disarmament Commission met this morning to continue its general debate on two themes:  ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament (for which it had before it a Chairman’s working paper, document A/CN.10/2003/WG.1/WP.1); and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms (for which it had before it an explanatory note of the relevant working group chairman). 

Statements

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HAYDAR ALI AHMAD (Syria), aligning himself with the statement of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Commission was the sole United Nations body entrusted to discuss disarmament questions in-depth, in order to arrive at guidelines regarding nuclear disarmament and confidence-building measures on conventional arms.  It was, therefore, regrettable that the session coincided with an unjustifiable war in Iraq.  The aim of the war was the removal of weapons of mass destruction, the undeclared goal was domination of the region.

He said the total elimination of nuclear weapons could be achieved through universality of the NPT and establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. In that regard, the situation in the Middle East should be taken into account.  All countries in that region had called for establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone, had complied with NPT obligations, and had placed their installations under the Safeguard Agreement -- all countries, except Israel, which refused to place its nuclear installations under the safeguards of the IAEA. 

As a confidence-building measure, the Register for Conventional Arms was not comprehensive, as it only included seven categories of conventional arms, he said.  To achieve a comprehensive Register, it must also include those conventional weapons which had great destructive power.  Moreover, the Register should not be selective.  It must cover all countries.

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CHUYKA C. UDEDIBIA (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, ...

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He said the Group emphasized the importance of consolidating the existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and the establishment of new ones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned.  The Group strongly supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and called on countries in the region to take urgent steps for the implementation of proposals for the establishment of such a zone.  Pending establishment of such a zone, countries of the Middle East must refrain from producing, acquiring or possessing nuclear weapons and agree to place their nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards.

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Speaking in his national capacity, ALAA ISSA (Egypt), who is also chairman of working group I on nuclear disarmament, ...

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He noted the recent progress achieved by those countries, but most of that had related to the framework of political commitments, which had not yet seen the light of day.  He also noted efforts, within the context of a regional framework, to strengthen the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty regimes.  He hoped to those achievements, would be added Mongolia and the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  The Middle East region also deserve special mention, since Egypt, for more than 25 years, had sought to achieve progress towards ridding that region of nuclear weapons and highlighting the dangers of nuclear proliferation.  He was exerting similar efforts within the framework of the NPT and had endeavoured to achieve progress in regional negotiations in the Middle East, but that had not been crowned with success.  He would pursue those efforts within the current Commission session, in order to build on its 1999 guidelines for the creation of such zones.  His goal was the creation of such a Middle East zone.

Regarding practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, he said that those were no substitute for disarmament measures, but were complementary steps to foster a conducive atmosphere to consolidate disarmament efforts.  Those ways and means, therefore, should be characterized by impartiality, objectivity, and be voluntary among the countries concerned.  When applied according to a complementary methodology, those could contribute to achieving security arrangements and to the rejection of the threat or use of force.  Yet, the experiences of the Middle East in the 1990s had confirmed that confidence-building measures alone were not sufficient, in the absence of a strategic and political commitment to the principle of equitable security for all. 

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MOHAMMAD H. FADAIFARD (Iran) ...

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He said one of the most important steps towards a world free from nuclear weapons was the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  In the sensitive and strategic region of the Middle East, Iran had been the first country that inscribed a proposal for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the agenda of the General Assembly.  The only existing obstacle to establishing such a zone in the Middle East was the non-adherence of Israel to the NPT and its continued clandestine operation of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

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Confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms could not divert the attention from disarmament, but could create a favourable atmosphere for progress in that area.  If in a region some party was not be ready to renounce weapons of mass destruction, as was being witnessed in the Middle East, there would not be much use for those kinds of measures.  Transparency and openness in different military matters, military holdings and expenditures were all possible means through which uncertainties and mistrust could be reduced.

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