Question of Palestine home
16 October 1997
Thursday, 16 October 1997, 3 p.m.
Mr. Nkgowe .........................(Botswana)
The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.
Agenda items 62 to 82
General debate on all disarmament and international security items
interpretation from French
At the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East, Algeria long ago committed itself to work to make both those regions free of nuclear weapons. Although Africa managed to achieve that goal in April 1996, all the indications are that in the Middle East, unfortunately, notwithstanding the unequivocal commitment of the international community, such a result is still a long way off, owing to the attitude of Israel, the only State in the region that is not a party to the NPT and that continues to possess nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction outside any international control.
Today, it has become imperative to undertake a review of the question of security through a multidimensional approach in which the military aspect is addressed along with other priorities, particularly those of economic and social development. This approach would simultaneously and equally encompass all the new challenges and transnational threats which confront the international community.
It is also natural for Algeria to plead for a global and integrated approach to the security and development of the Mediterranean, convinced as it is that there can be no genuine security for all as long as serious and intolerable imbalances persist between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean.
We regard the commencement of the preparatory process for the NPT Review Conference in the year 2000 as an important phase in which efforts should be consolidated towards the issuance by the Review Conference of an integral consensus document to enhance the implementation of all NPT provisions and build constructively on the outcome of the 1995 Conference, which consisted of three decisions and the resolution on the Middle East — adopted, it should be recalled, by consensus. Egypt notes with satisfaction that the first session of the Preparatory Committee recommended to the next session the allocation of specific time to be devoted to discussions on ways and means for the implementation of the Middle East resolution, and in this regard we underscore the special responsibility of the sponsors of the resolution in seeing to its full implementation.
With regard to the Middle East region, the General Assembly has been calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East since 1974. Despite the fact that the resolution on this item has been adopted annually by consensus since 1980, the progress from all the States of the region. In this context it has to be noted that all the States members of the League of Arab States have become parties to the NPT as a reflection of their firm belief and conviction that freeing the Middle East from nuclear weapons will certainly bring peace and security to the whole region. At the same time, Israel persists in defying repeated calls to join the NPT and to subject its facilities to full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
Arguments advanced by Israel to justify its position against joining the NPT and against placing all its un-safeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards are now the serious obstacle — the only serious obstacle —that prevents the establishment of the zone, thus undermining efforts towards achieving a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East. This attitude from Israel not only prevents the establishment of the nuclear-weapon-free zone but also induces a similar position on the part of many States in the region with regard to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. The rationale is simple enough: security cannot be divided between various weapons of mass destruction or even between weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.
The initiative launched in 1990 by President Mubarak to establish a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East carries a lot of weight in this regard. It will be recalled in this context that in paragraph 14 of resolution 687 (1991) the Security Council endorsed the necessity of establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and, again, this has not been implemented.
The international community, and in particular the United Nations, has a special responsibility for not allowing one State in the region, namely Israel, to benefit from pursuing ambiguous policies in the nuclear field, particularly in view of the recent deteriorating political situation in the Middle East, for which the Israeli Government, and the Israeli Government alone, bears responsibility.
The meeting rose at 6.20 p.m.