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


GA/DIS/3097
12 November 1997

FIRST COMMITTEE APPROVES FOUR DRAFT TEXTS ON RISK OF
NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION IN MIDDLE EAST, NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE, LANDMINES


The Assembly would call upon the only State in the region of the Middle East not yet party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to accede to it without further delay, according to the terms of one of four draft resolutions approved this morning by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

By further terms of the text concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the Assembly would call upon that State not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons and to renounce possession of such weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The draft, sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States, was approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 17 abstentions. (For details of the vote, see Annex IV.)

Prior to approval of the draft, the Committee, in a separate vote, approved the sixth preambular paragraph calling on all States not yet party to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date. That paragraph was approved by a vote of 137 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 3 abstentions (Cuba, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea) (Annex III).

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Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue taking action on disarmament draft resolutions and decisions. It had before it four texts on nuclear disarmament and other weapons of mass destruction, two drafts on anti-personnel mines, a draft on regional disarmament and a series of texts on the following disarmament categories: conventional arms control; confidence-building and transparency measures; disarmament machinery; other disarmament measures; and related matters of disarmament and international security.

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A text on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2), sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States, would have the Assembly call upon the only State in the region not yet party to the NPT to accede to the Treaty without further delay. It would also call upon that State not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons and to renounce possession of such weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It would further ask the Secretary-General to bring the provisions of the resolution to the particular attention of Israel.

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Statements

MAHMUD KAREMA (Egypt), on behalf of the League of Arab States, presented the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2). The draft was subjected to intensive consultations which finally led to its submission. The second revision was based on the draft adopted last year under the same agenda item. The current draft, however, took into account some of the prevailing realities in the Middle East region, which underlined a basic fact -- namely, that one State, Israel, remained outside of the scope of the NPT.

He said that point was precisely what preambular paragraph 7 stated objectively and clearly. It was not "name calling" or "singling out", but a simple and clear reflection of the reality stated in a carefully measured and descriptive manner. Only one country in the Middle East region was believed to possess a significant nuclear arsenal under unsafeguarded installation, and until now, refused to adhere to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the full-scope safeguards of the IAEA.

He said he hoped the adoption of the current drafts would positively motivate the international community. Universal adherence to the NPT remained a cardinal priority, not only for the States of the Middle East, but for the international community as a whole. Israel's refusal created an imbalance that could not continue, as it undermined the efforts made by regional and non-parties, particularly those efforts aimed at the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.

As a token of efforts to consolidate international support for that measure, the title of the agenda item itself was changed from "Israeli nuclear armament" to "the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East", he said. That change highlighted the conceptual departure from confrontation to reconciliation and, hopefully, towards confidence-building. It was now Israel's turn to accede to the NPT or to indicate its intention to do so.

There were some 129 Member States that voted in favour of the non-proliferation draft last year -- including from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, he said. The consolidation of the NPT remained a solemn and sacred duty which should be faithfully discharged without exception.

Action on Texts

The representative of Israel said that the draft (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2) singled out and condemned Israel for not acceding to the NPT. The terms of the draft touched on Israel's security considerations. That, in itself, constituted threats to the security and stability in the Middle East region.

Israel was repeatedly a target, he said. The unprovoked missile attacks on its civilian population during the Gulf war was a prime example. It was once again not Israel that was threatening security and stability in the region, but other States. Iraq was a party to the NPT, but that did not eliminate the threats that that country posed to world peace. Yet, only Israel was the target of the condemnatory resolution before the Committee.

Taking the floor on a point of order, the representative of Egypt expressed the belief that the representative of Israel's comments referred to the first draft revision rather than the current second revision.

Continuing, the representative of Israel said the motives that compelled the Committee to press the second revised draft were political in nature and had nothing to do with the specific purpose claimed by its co-sponsors. Had the draft truly addressed itself to universality, it should be broadly applied. If the Committee wished to highlight the current situation in the Middle East, it should target the "real proliferator" in the region.

Furthermore, he said, the introduction of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into the draft created a facade of respectability which the draft so lacked. As one of the original signatories of the CTBT, Israel rejected that inclusion. The current draft rendered a great disservice to the cause of non-proliferation in the Middle East by creating the illusion that it tackled that matter. Rather, it would remain irrelevant to the evolving and dangerous situation in the Middle East. He called upon all delegations to vote against the draft.

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The representative of Israel said he would vote in favour of the draft, as he supported efforts to prevent the indiscriminate use of landmines. In practical terms, Israel had contributed financial aid to mine-clearance projects in Angola, and contributing to such efforts in other areas. Israel had recently extended its unilateral moratorium on exporting anti-personnel landmines, but reserved its use for self-defence, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Israel needed to use those weapons, but supported a process in which each State undertook not to use them except where security circumstances required. Israel would participate as an observer in the forthcoming Ottawa Conference.

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The Committee then proceeded to consider the draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2).

Speaking before action on the draft, the representative of the United States said he would vote against the text because it singled out Israel, and it was unacceptable in any form. The draft resolution did nothing to further the mutual arms control objectives of the countries in the region. Substantive agreements would only occur within the broader context of the Middle East peace process, to which the United States was fully committed.

The representative of Israel said he would vote against draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. His country's attitude towards the NPT had unjustifiably become the focus of criticism. There were other countries whose security situation meant that they were unable to sign the Treaty, and they had not been criticised in the same way. The NPT did not provide an adequate response to the security situation in the Middle East.

At a previous meeting, the Committee had adopted, by consensus, a draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (A/C.1/52/L.4), he continued. That covered all the principles for the establishment of such a zone, and the draft resolution currently before the Committee for action was, therefore, unnecessary. Its only objective was to single out and condemn Israel. The adoption of the draft would only be meaningful if it were adopted by consensus. Its adoption by majority vote would render it meaningless.

The representative of Iran said he would vote for the draft because the content was faithful to the real situation in the Middle East. It called on Israel, the only State not party to the NPT, to join the treaty and to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. Despite repeated calls for it to do so, there had been no change in the policy of Israel. If Israel did as was requested, that would facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

A separate vote was requested on preambular paragraph 6 of the draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/C.1./52/L.5/Rev.2), calling on all States not yet party to the NPT to accede to it at the earliest date.

Preambular paragraph 6 of the draft resolution, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, was approved by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel,) with 3 abstentions (Cuba, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea). (See Annex III.)

The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2) as a whole was approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 17 abstentions. (See Annex IV.)

In explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Tunisia said he had not voted on preambular paragraph 6. Had he had done so, he would have supported it.

The representative of India had abstained on the draft as a whole and voted against preambular paragraph 6. The reasons were consistent with India's stand on the NPT. India was not a party to the Treaty, and had no plans to become one. He could not, therefore, support a call on all States to accede to that Treaty.

The representative of Pakistan said he supported the draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East because it endorsed the objectives of nuclear non-proliferation in the region. It would have been preferable if the draft had been restricted to considerations relating solely to the region of the Middle East. He was concerned about the insertion of preambular paragraph 6, calling for adherence to the NPT. Because of Pakistan's security situation, it could not accede to the NPT. He hoped that the sponsors of the draft would reconsider the inclusion of that provision in further drafts on the subject.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said he voted in favour of the draft. As everyone knew, Israel was the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT. Israel should abandon nuclear weapons and put all of its nuclear installations under the safeguards of the IAEA. Such a move would reinforce the trust of all the peoples of the region.

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ANNEX III

Vote on Sixth Preambular Paragraph on Risk of Nuclear Proliferation in Middle East


The sixth preambular paragraph of the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: India, Israel.

Abstain: Cuba, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea.

Absent: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Lesotho, Madagascar, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


ANNEX IV

Vote on Risk of Nuclear Proliferation in Middle East


The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 2 against, with 17 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Estonia, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nepal, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Singapore, Uruguay.

Absent: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Madagascar, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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