Question of Palestine home
10 November 1997
Monday, 10 November 1997, 3 p.m.
Mr. Nkgowe .........................(Botswana)
The meeting was called to order at 3.25 p.m.
Agenda items 62 to 83
Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all items
(Egypt): Last Friday my delegation introduced the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/52/L.4*, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”. At that time a delegation spoke and introduced its own ideas, sometimes very vehemently, on certain changes that have been incorporated in this text.
For our part, we felt that the draft resolution should reflect honestly the developments as they are, as we see them, as we feel them, and as we have dealt with them during the last year, from the last General Assembly until today. And this has been the raison d’être behind the introduction of the resolutions on this subject.
We also spoke about why we believe that these resolutions, which have been adopted by consensus from 1980 until today, deserve the utmost attention and priority of this body. It is within that spirit of accommodation that this delegation engaged in extensive consultations with other interested parties.
I would like to announce at this juncture that we saw fit to withdraw some of the amendments we introduced earlier. They are, in particular, incorporated in operative paragraph 4, to which we will be adding the words “the activities of” after “negotiations and” in the second line. On the other hand, there will be a deletion in operative paragraph 10, from which we will be deleting the word “actively” in the first line.
Needless to say, we do this in order to preserve the spirit of compromise and consensus which has worked well in this resolution from 1980 until today. We do it because we believe in it, as a country that initiated this initiative in 1974 and that worked very hard to have this resolution adopted by consensus from 1980 until today because of the principles and provisions it enshrines, which are very dear to us and which we will not enumerate here. But I must call the Committee’s attention to what is enshrined in operative paragraphs 1 and 2.
We therefore hope that, with the introduction of these amendments, which were the result and by-product of extensive consultations during the weekend, the First Committee will find it fit to adopt this initiative and draft resolution once again by consensus.
On a technical note, just for the Secretary’s attention, there is a technical error in operative paragraph 3. I am almost certain that the adoption of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution GC(41)Res/25 was not on 3 September 1997. I think this is a small problem which we can all work on and solve very swiftly, so I just wanted to bring to the attention of the Committee that there is a very small technical amendment that will happen in operative paragraph 3, dealing with the references to the General Conference resolution on the application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East.
Once again, I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and through you would like to put this draft resolution to this body to be adopted by consensus.
(Israel): In view of the statement made by the representative of Egypt, my delegation is willing to withdraw its two amendments contained in documents A/C.1/52/L.46 and A/C.1/52/L.49, in the understanding that those changes — namely, the addition of the words “the activities of” within the body of operative paragraph 4 of A/C.1/52/L.4 and the addition of the word “actively” in the first line of operative paragraph 10 — will be shown on the revised text of our Committee.
In such an event, my delegation is in a position to join the consensus and will explain its position after the draft resolution is adopted.
Mr. Lin Kuo-Chung
(Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, was introduced by the representative of Egypt at the 17th meeting, on 7 November 1997. At the current meeting Egypt made oral amendments as follows.
A correction was made to operative paragraph 3 with regard to the dates. In the first line, the date 3 September 1997 should be 3 October 1997.
The representative of Egypt made an amendment to operative paragraph 4. In the second line, after the word “and” the phrase “the activities of” should be added. In the first line of operative paragraph 10, the word “actively” should be deleted after the phrase “to continue to”.
The representative of Israel made a statement to withdraw the amendments contained in documents A/C.1/52/L.46 and A/C.1/52/L.49 at the 18th meeting on 10 November.
(Islamic Republic of Iran): I wish to make a brief comment on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”. We are convinced that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East at an early date is the most viable way to achieve peace and security in that region. This has been Iran’s consistent position since 1974, when it initiated what became General Assembly resolution 3263 (XXIX) of 9 December 1974 on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.
At present the main obstacle to the realization of this initiative is Israel’s refusal to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to put its nuclear-weapons programme under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is a separate matter, and should not become hostage to the so-called peace process, which has no prospect of restoring genuine peace and security to the Middle East.
My delegation would have liked to become a sponsor of this draft resolution. However, because of references in the ninth preambular paragraph and in operative paragraph 4 to the peace negotiations, about which we have reservations based on our position of principle, and because these are unnecessary references to an unrelated matter, we were regrettably unable to become a sponsor of the draft resolution. We nevertheless wholeheartedly supported the context of the draft resolution.
(Israel): Israel joined consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*, as amended. Israel did so in spite of what it views as the inherent deficiencies of this draft resolution. This should not be interpreted as Israel’s agreement to all the provisions of the draft resolution or the modalities contained therein. Israel joined in the consensus out of its conviction that a Middle Eastern nuclear-weapon-free zone will eventually serve as an important complement to overall peace, security and arms control in the region.
It has always been Israel’s policy that the nuclear issue, as well as all other regional security issues, conventional and non-conventional, should be dealt with within the full context of the peace process. Moreover, negotiations on all these issues can be realistically expected to be conducted directly and freely only within the framework of the peace process. The political realities in our region mandate a practical, step-by-step approach: beginning the process with confidence-building measures, establishing peaceful relations and reconciliation, and in due course complementing the process by dealing with conventional and non-conventional arms control.
Furthermore, priority has to be assigned to dealing with those weapons and systems that have proven to be destructive and destabilizing. This step-by-step approach is sustained by the vast experience accumulated in similar processes elsewhere. As well proven in other regions, a step-by-step approach beginning with modest confidence-building measures, followed by the establishment of a peaceful environment, will eventually lead to more ambitious goals.
Consensus on draft resolutions like draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4* has been maintained since 1980 because all parties concerned have found a way to respect each other’s interpretation and reservations with regard to the draft resolution. My delegation hopes that the sense of responsibility shown by the Committee with regard to this draft resolution will prevail when we deal with other draft resolutions concerning the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions.
(Syrian Arab Republic) (interpretation from Arabic): My delegation wishes to explain its position on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.4*, as amended, which was just adopted without a vote. We joined in adopting this draft resolution because we wanted to support the consensus and because we understand the vital importance of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions, including in the Middle East. Our participation in the consensus was consistent with the Final Document of the tenth special session of the General Assembly, which called for the establishment of such zones, especially in the Middle East.
The establishment of such a zone in that region is not linked to the peace process, as we have just heard, because the peace process is not linked to adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; such adherence is an obligation not subject to any peace agreements or peace negotiations.
In the ninth preambular paragraph, the Assembly would note that the peace negotiations in the Middle East should be of a comprehensive nature and represent an appropriate framework for the peaceful settlement of contentious issues in the region. We would have favoured the inclusion of a reference to the Madrid agreements and to the formula of land for peace.
Operative paragraph 4 does not take account of the realities. The bilateral negotiations have ceased; we are not participating in the deliberations of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security and do not see the Group as promoting mutual trust and security in the region. That will not come about so long as Israel continues its occupation of Arab territory. Israeli withdrawal from all the territories would encourage the strengthening of mutual trust and security in the Middle East.
: I now call on those representatives wishing to make general comments after the voting.
(Egypt): I would like to say a few words about the statement made by the representative of Israel following the adoption by consensus of the draft resolution [A/C.1/52/L.4*] on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East. This delegation chose not to interrupt the voting process at the time, but we have decided that in the light of what was said certain clarifications must be made before this meeting ends.
I must at the outset register my own amazement at what has been said. The representative of Israel, who spoke about several issues, mentioned three particular points. His first was that, in his opinion, there were certain deficiencies in the draft resolution. I pause here to ask the question: what additional deficiencies did he see in the draft resolution? I thought there were only two — and those two deficiencies have been the focus of concerted action and accommodation from this side in order to solicit the support of Israel and to have it on board as part of the consensus on this draft resolution. I am really surprised, because I do not think that such a statement accords well with the spirit of compromise and accommodation exhibited by my delegation, which we showed by taking Israel’s requests into consideration and amending the draft resolution in order to satisfy them.
The second point, which, incidentally, the representative of Israel mentioned in the course of consideration of at least five or six draft resolutions dealing with nuclear-weapon-free zones around the globe, related to two concepts: free and direct negotiations, and the idea that the zone, wherever it may be, must come from the region itself and must be freely arrived at. I think the negotiations on the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone again accords very well with these two points. We have not imposed anything, and we have listened very carefully and accommodated the points of view expressed by the Israeli delegation. Again, I find myself at total loss as to why we should listen to this kind of language. What have we been doing over the past few weeks, and, in particular, during the past 48 hours? That is exactly what we were trying to do.
In his third point, the representative of Israel made reference to steps and the approval of confidence-building measures, and said that in due course certain priorities must be dealt with. Again, I pause here to make the additional point that Egypt wholeheartedly agrees with the concept of confidence-building measures. But it is important to note that if we are to build confidence in the region of the Middle East we should begin with building confidence in the nuclear field. One such confidence-building measure, which is extremely important, would be not to shroud nuclear activities with secrecy and ambiguity, and what has come to be known in the region of the Middle East as psychological nuclear deterrence.
If we are to build confidence in the Middle East region we have to begin with concrete steps in this regard. At any rate, the fact that we have a draft resolution adopted by consensus is important. I will continue with the good spirit of accommodation and compromise, and we hope that in the next few days the other side will reciprocate.
The meeting rose at 6.05 p.m.