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

4 October 2002

Fifty-seventh General Assembly
First Committee
6th Meeting (AM)


Terrorist threats had shattered traditional security perceptions and calculations, yet the response, which included the emergence of new doctrines of pre-emption and an unprecedented new nuclear posture, had further aggravated the situation, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told this morning, as it continued its general debate. 



The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security.

A number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements will be under consideration, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and towards that goal, to 13 specific steps.




JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) ...


He congratulated Cuba for its decision to accede to the NPT.  He also supported efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  He expressed concern, however, over Israel’s rejection and violation of United Nations resolutions.  He also found it ironic that, in developing its weapons of mass destruction programme, Israel had received moral and material support from “the very State which has made leveling of baseless allegations about others a priority in its global policy.”


Rights of Reply

The representative of Israel thanked Syria and Iran, who with their baseless allegations and toxic rhetoric, had given him the opportunity to set the record straight.  Hearing such allegations against his country from countries that were notorious for their repression and totalitarianism, and lacking even the most basic respect for human rights and rule of law, was "offensive in the extreme". 

Only yesterday, Iran had revealed the true objective of its missile programme aimed at Israel, he continued.  That was probably its manifestation of a “culture of peace”.  The Syrian representative, in his statement, had revealed his overriding motive to try and legitimize terrorism by making a distinction that might justify violence against civilians.  That was no surprise, in light of the fact that Syria was listed as a State sponsor of terrorism.  That was made more disturbing by the fact that it was also a member of the Security Council and had even served as its president.  In order to succeed in the campaign to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism, States must stop all moral and logistical support for such acts.  That would be an act of moral and legal principle, which he did not expect from those States. 

Speaking in exercise of his right of reply, the representative of Iraq responded to the statement made by the representative of Nepal concerning Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions.  That delegation did not have a full picture of the situation, because Iraq was complying with all Council resolutions.  It had invited the inspectors to come to its territory, in order to see what it was doing with weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq's position was quite clear in that regard, but the United States had opposed the return of inspectors to Iraq.

The representative of Syria, responding to the representative of Israel, said that that speaker had tried to divert the Committee's attention with a statement that had nothing to do with the preservation of international peace and security.  Syria, yesterday, had simply made a statement of fact.  Syria, like other Arab and Islamic countries, had called for the establishment of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  It called upon Israel to accede to the NPT and to submit its nuclear facilities to the safeguards regime of the IAEA.

That was not part of a propaganda campaign, he said.  It was based on the premise that Syria, in particular, and Arab countries, in general, aspired to peace in the region, while “Israel killed the peace process right from the start” with its tanks, its fighter jets and its heavy and light weaponry.  Israel was the only country in the world that practiced systematic State terrorism against a people struggling strenuously for its liberation, independence and self-determination.

The audacity of the Syrian representative knew no bounds, the representative of Israel replied.  Despite its protestations, the true nature of Syria's record was no secret.  It had transferred small arms and light weapons, and provided other means of support to Hezbollah terrorists, which continued to destabilize northern Israel.  Also, Syria was one of only seven States listed as sponsors of terrorism, and one of the most deadly Palestinian terrorist organizations -- Hamas -- maintained offices in Damascus and enjoyed basing privileges in Lebanon, under Syrian control. 

He said that Syria's contempt for the sanctity of human life had not stopped at its borders, but had used the most brutal tactics to silence opposition even at home.  A country with as shameful a record as Syria had no right to accuse others.  A country so completely at odds with the international campaign against terrorism should have hesitated to speak in that manner.  The Syrian representative should heed the warning that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.


The representative of Syria said, once again, the representative of Israel was out of order when he raised issues that had nothing to do with the Committee's work.  Israel was an occupying Power, while it claimed to be democratic.  Israel destroyed the Palestinians and killed them in the occupied Territories.  It still occupied the Syrian Golan and had not yet completely withdrawn its forces from Lebanon.  What was truly astonishing was that that State, which claimed to be democratic, had denied the Palestinians their right to live inside an internationally recognized and secure State.  Israel should be the last to have the right to talk about democracy. 

In his first intervention, that representative had noted that Syria was a member of the Security Council and had presided over it.  Syria was known throughout the United Nations as committing to and implementing the resolutions of international legitimacy.  The representative of Israel had no right to evaluate Syria's work in the United Nations. 

The representative of Lebanon replied to the reference to his country made by the representative of Israel in his second intervention.  Israel had discussed threats from his neighbours, as if trying to justify the fact that it was ignoring the resolutions of the Committee, which had urged it to eliminate nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  The conclusion of the Beruit Summit had been part of the Arab peace initiative and had given Israel the right to exist, in exchange for complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories.

It was not true, as that representative had stated, that the Arabs were threatening Israel, he said.  It was the occupying Power that posed the threat.  Also, those States had assured Israel that it would not abolish relations with it. 
The representative of Israel had also described Lebanese resistance as terrorism, he said.  Quite simply, those people who were resisting in order to free their lands were being called terrorists.  Charles de Gaulle would have been called a terrorist, because he sought to free his land from occupation.  There was a major difference between resistance and terrorism, he said. 

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For information media - not an official record