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The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda items 57, 58 and 60 to 73 ( continued)
Thematic discussion on item subjects and introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items
The Chairman : Delegations are invited this morning to make statements on regional disarmament, confidence-building measures, including transparency in armaments and other disarmament measures and disarmament machinery. They are also invited to continue introducing draft resolutions.
Mr. Issa (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic): The Egyptian delegation is delighted to introduce the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, A/C.1/57/L.27, submitted under agenda item 69. We present this draft resolution on behalf of the member States of the League of Arab States and other Member States of the United Nations.
In its preambular section, the draft resolution stresses the need to place all nuclear facilities in the region of the Middle East under full-scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It recalls the recommendations of Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), particularly of 1995 and 2000, regarding the importance of ensuring universal adherence to the NPT with a view to sparing ourselves the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East region and throughout the world. Indeed, nuclear facilities continue to exist in the region, facilities not subject to the full-scope safeguards system.
The preamble notes also that Israel is the only State in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the NPT. It exhorts all the States in the region to place their nuclear activities under full-scope safeguards with a view to turning the region into a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
As to the operative portion of the draft resolution, it welcomes the recommendations issued at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and stresses the need for Israel to accede to the NPT, to place its nuclear facilities under comprehensive safeguards and to foreswear any acquisition of nuclear weapons, while acceding to the NPT as early as possible.
The Egyptian delegation would have liked to witness any progress made by Israel towards implementing this resolution over the past year. However, all the recommendations embodied in this draft are still awaiting implementation. I hope that the majority of those who traditionally vote for this resolution will once again recognize the importance that the international community attaches to the need for Israel to accede to the NPT and to do so at the earliest possible date, heeding the appeal of the international community’s legality.
Allow me to submit, on behalf of the Egyptian delegation, the draft resolution dealing with the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, in document A/C.1/57/L.28. This draft resolution, which has been before the First Committee since 1977, reflects the importance that the international community attaches to creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and the concrete measures that the countries of the region should take to attain this end. It also reaffirms certain major principles related to the security of nuclear-weapons facilities and to national security and the essential role the United Nations must play in establishing such a zone.
The resolution calls upon the States of the region to strive towards the establishment of this nuclear-weapon-free zone by taking concrete measures and by committing themselves to abstain from any military nuclear activities. It also calls upon parties outside the region to support efforts led by the United Nations through steps to be taken by the Secretary-General to seek the views of States in the region and other countries concerned. It requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution to the General Assembly.
Though the wording of this draft resolution hardly differs from the text of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly at the last session, the Egyptian delegation hopes that the consensus that this resolution has enjoyed for over 20 years will contribute to progress in its implementation at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Shobokshi (Saudi Arabia) (spoke in Arabic): ...
Our delegation supports the draft resolution submitted by the brotherly country of Egypt dealing with the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and it wishes to emphasize the fact that the creation of such a nuclear-weapon-free zone is an important prerequisite for the strengthening of peace and security at both the regional and international levels.
States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) adopted a separate resolution on the Middle East at the NPT Review and Extension Conference. Regrettably, Israel is the only State in the region that has not yet responded positively to the appeal made in that resolution to accede to the Treaty. States parties to the Treaty are called on to implement all the provisions of that resolution. The nuclear-weapon States and the sponsors of that resolution are called on to shoulder their responsibilities and to prompt Israel to submit to the obligations that the other countries in the region have undertaken with a view to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. There can be no discriminatory or selective approach here, nor can there be any policy of double standards.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was keen on acceding to the NPT and has abided by all of its provisions, continues to stress the need to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The Kingdom would like to express its deep concern at Israel’s intransigence and refusal to accede to the NPT and to submit its nuclear installations to the IAEA comprehensive safeguards regime. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stresses the fact that Israel’s ongoing nuclear programme outside the safeguards regime and its continued refusal to accede to the NPT represent a threat to peace and stability, both regionally and internationally, and endanger the very credibility of the NPT.
Mr. Al-Banai (Kuwait) ( spoke in Arabic ): My country has the honour of chairing the Arab Group this month. I welcome this opportunity to make a statement on behalf of the League of Arab States, which would like to reaffirm its position, as stated in 2 October 2000, with regard to transparency in armaments, in particular with regard to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. For a number of consecutive years, the States members of the Arab League have been making clear their position on the issue of transparency and their vision concerning the Register. It is a clear-cut and stable view, based essentially on matters involving global disarmament and a regional plan determined by the particular situation in the Middle East.
The States members of the Arab League support transparency in armaments as a measure for consolidating peace and security worldwide, because they are convinced that such transparency must be governed by basic principles that are clearly determined, balanced, all-encompassing, non-selective and aimed at the consolidation of international, regional and national security, in keeping with international law.
The Middle East region is in a unique position as a result of the qualitative imbalance with regard to weapons within it and because of the fact that transparency and confidence can be achieved only if a proper and comprehensive balance is struck with regard to such weapons. Bringing about transparency in the Middle East on seven categories of conventional weapons while leaving out more lethal, advanced and complex weapons, such as weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, is an unbalanced and incomprehensive approach and is an obstacle to the achievement of the results that we hope for. It does not take into account the current situation in the Middle East. Israel continues to occupy Arab land, and it possesses nuclear weapons — the most lethal weapons of mass destruction — and is the only State in the region not to have submitted its nuclear installations to the comprehensive safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency; nor has it acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Mr. Al-Otaiba (United Arab Emirates) (spoke in Arabic): On behalf of the delegation of the United Arab Emirates, I would like to express my appreciation, Sir, for your valuable efforts in directing the deliberations of this Committee.
The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions of the world is a great contribution to preventing the proliferation of such weapons and to reducing the danger of a nuclear war. It is also one of the principal measures designed to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons and to achieve total and comprehensive disarmament.
The United Arab Emirates, realizing that the establishment of such zones is a main step towards achieving the goals of nuclear disarmament in particular, and disarmament in general, endorses all General Assembly resolutions regarding the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, above all nuclear weapons, in the Middle East, and we support all efforts made to fulfil it. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates has taken concrete steps toward that goal by acceding to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The Middle East region is ruled by an obvious imbalance in power, due to the fact that Israel, an occupying country that practices terrorism and military aggression in the occupied Palestinian lands, possesses a huge arsenal of weapons, nuclear weapons in particular. In addition, it refuses to join the NPT and to subject its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), thus posing a direct threat to the security of the Arab nations, weakening the credibility and universality of the NPT and hindering the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, leading to the perpetuation of the security imbalance in the region.
In 1974, the General Assembly called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. In 1980, the resolution concerning this issue gained impetus and importance after it was adopted unanimously. Moreover, the resolutions on the Middle East, adopted by States parties at the two Conferences for the revision and extension of the NPT in 1995 and 2000, call on all countries to take practical measures, inter alia, to achieve progress towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in particular, and their means of delivery. They also call for the verification of these measures and for no step to be taken to oppose such measures. States parties, in the Final Document issued at the 2000 Review Conference, also insisted on the importance of Israel’s acceding to the NPT and subjecting its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the IAEA.
The United Arab Emirates attaches great importance to making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. It also reiterates its conviction that establishing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East requires the implementation of paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, by which it calls for the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.
Accordingly, we call, first, for Israel, the only party in the Middle East that has not yet acceded, to accede unconditionally to the NPT, to subject its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the IAEA and to eliminate all its weapons of mass destruction, especially its nuclear weapons, in accordance with the Security Council resolution 687 (1991). Secondly, the nuclear-weapon States, in particular those that are permanent members of the Security Council, must assume their responsibility for ensuring the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in the Middle East as soon as possible, given the explosive situation in the region, which jeopardizes all attempts to achieve peace and security there. Thirdly, the NPT must be implemented by all parties in the region without exception. Fourthly, comprehensive nuclear-weapon disarmament in the Middle East should not constitute an obstacle to the acquisition of know-how or to the peaceful scientific uses of nuclear energy.
In conclusion, we hope that our deliberations will lead to the attainment of the desired objectives through the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East as soon as possible.
The Chairman: I thank the representative of the United Arab Emirates for his kind words.
Mr.Atieh (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): My delegation supports the draft resolution submitted by the delegation of the Arab Republic of Egypt, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”. I should like to clarify a few points in that regard.
First, Syria was among the first States in the Middle East region to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Our Legislative Act 169 of 1969 contained Syria’s accession to the Treaty. Syria is at the forefront of the movement to rid the Middle East region of all weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, as a result of our conviction that the possession of such destructive weapons by any State in the region would constitute a threat and a source of profound concern, not only for the States of the region but also for all States of the world.
Secondly, all Arab States have acceded to the NPT. However, Israel still refuses to accede to the Treaty, and it also refuses to sign a comprehensive safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or to subject all its nuclear facilities to inspection. As a result, the NPT will not achieve the required universality, and the danger of nuclear weapons will not be averted in the Middle East. Israel refused to abide by any international resolutions adopted in this regard, whether by the General Assembly, by the Security Council or by the IAEA. The most recent of these was resolution GC(46)/RES/16 of 20 September 2002, adopted during the forty-sixth regular session of the IAE General Conference.
Thirdly, the fact that Israel remains outside the NPT and the comprehensive safeguards regime of the IAEA continues to pose considerable concern and threats to peace and security, not only in the Middle East region but throughout the world.
The Chairman: In the exercise of the right of reply, I now give the floor to the representative of Israel.
Mr. Bar (Israel): First, let me congratulate you, Sir, on the effective and wise manner in which you run the deliberations of the First Committee and to offer you any help we can to continue that way. We also would like to take the opportunity and extend our condolences both to the people of Indonesia and the Philippines on the terrible terrorist attack they suffered. We fully share their feelings. We know how they feel.
Earlier this morning, my Egyptian colleague presented two draft resolutions that deal directly with the Middle East. While I share his hopes regarding one of the resolutions, namely a consensus support for the draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free zone, I am afraid that I do not share his call for support for the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
We will be part of the consensus on the nuclear-weapon-free zone draft resolution, and we will describe, as usual, our detailed views and the modalities to enhance it. At the same time, we believe that one-sided and unbalanced draft resolutions aimed at isolating and alienating Israel, such as the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, do not contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Moreover, they undermine the confidence and the climate of cooperation that are an essential basis for achieving that end, ignoring the complex reality of the region. Countries, particularly in the Middle East, should realize that those draft resolutions cannot be a substitute for the need to conduct direct negotiations, build confidence, reduce threats and establish stable, peaceful relations in the region, all of which are essential milestones on the way to a nuclear-weapon-free zone. We, therefore, urge those countries wishing to enhance the draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free zone to vote against the draft concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
I wish to take the opportunity to call attention to a strained ritual repeated every year by countries that are not willing to participate in the mechanism of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, a minimally basic, voluntary mechanism. Yet, those countries take advantage of their rejectionist attitude in order to attack Israel with baseless accusations, offering ambitious and absurd proposals on how to strengthen the Register, while intending in reality to undermine that instrument.
The meeting rose at 11.50 a.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.