Question of Palestine home
12 November 1997
Wednesday, 12 November 1997, 10 a.m.
Mr. Nkgowe .........................(Botswana)
The meeting was called to order at 10 a.m.
Agenda items 62 to 83
Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all items
(Egypt): On behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, the delegation of Egypt has the honour to present the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2, under agenda item 74, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.
In order to accommodate the different concerns of the many interested delegations, this draft was the subject of intensive consultations, which finally led to the submission of A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2. Draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2 is based on the resolution adopted last year by the General Assembly under the same agenda item. It does, however, take into account some of the prevailing realities as they stand today in the Middle East region. Such realities underline a basic fact in our own region of the Middle East, namely that one State — Israel — remains outside of the scope of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. I should like to stress that this is precisely what the seventh preambular paragraph states objectively and clearly.
This is not name-calling. This is not singling out. It is a simple and clear reflection of reality stated in a carefully measured and descriptive manner.
Only one country in the Middle East is believed to possess a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons and to operate an unsafeguarded nuclear installation, and has until now refused to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place its nuclear activities under the full safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
We hope that by adopting these draft resolutions we may set in motion a process, a spirit, that would engender a positive reaction by the international community to this situation which, if compared to other but much less significant cases of nuclear proliferation, remains mitigated at best.
The achievement of universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a cardinal priority not only for the Middle East region but also for the international community as a whole. Universality consolidates the edifice of the NPT regime. This has been underscored by the Treaty itself and by the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted in 1995 by the Conference of States Parties to the NPT. It has also been clearly stated in the provisions of a resolution on the Middle East adopted by the Conference of the States Parties themselves. It is for those reasons that we consider that Israel’s continued refusal to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty is an impediment to the realization of the lofty objective of attaining universal adherence to the NPT.
This imbalanced situation cannot continue. It undermines the efforts deployed by various regional and extraregional parties aimed at establishing confidence-building measures, in particular those efforts aimed at the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. At the same time, we must underscore that a few years ago, and as a token of our support for consolidating international support for this agenda item, the title of the item itself was changed from “Israeli nuclear armament” to “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”. That significant change highlighted the conceptual departure from confrontation to reconciliation and, hopefully, towards confidence-building. Now, we hope it is Israel’s turn to make a positive gesture by joining all States of the region in acceding to the NPT or by inscribing an intention to do so, since the NPT is the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime.
Finally, and in conclusion, on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, we hope to receive even more than the overwhelming support Member States offered this draft resolution last year in the General Assembly. We note that 129 Member States voted in favour of the draft resolution last year. Those Member States are in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, in Europe and elsewhere. The consolidation of the non-proliferation regime remains a solemn duty and a sacred responsibility that should be faithfully discharged without any exception anywhere around the globe.
The Chairman: I shall now call upon representatives wishing to make general statements other than explanation of vote or position on draft resolutions A/C.1/52/L.23/Rev.1 and L.1 in cluster 4; L.35 in cluster 1; L.5/Rev.2 in cluster 1 and L.39/Rev.1 in cluster 5.
(Israel): My delegation wishes to make some comments on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2, now before the Committee, which singles out and condemns Israel for not acceding to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The draft resolution asserts that the situation by which Israel takes a sovereign stand on an issue that touches upon its utmost national security considerations constitutes, in the language of the draft resolution,
“threats...to the security and stability of the region of the Middle East”.
Since its inception, Israel has been repeatedly a target of various threats and attacks by many regional States. A recent blatant example was the unprovoked missile attacks on the civilian population of Israel during the Gulf War. Today, as I speak, it is once again not Israel that is threatening the security and stability of the region but other States that do so. Iraq is a party to the NPT. This fact does not eliminate the extraordinary threats it poses to regional stability and security and to world peace, yet it is Israel and only Israel that is the target of the condemnatory draft resolution before us.
The motive that compels the Committee to adopt draft resolutions that, in the opinion of my delegation, are political in nature —
: I call upon the representative of Egypt, who has asked to speak on a point of order.
(Egypt): I regret very much the fact that I have had to interrupt the representative of Israel, but I think, along with many others, that we have heard him state that he was basing his comments on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.1. He used a specific wording that is not present in draft resolution L.5/Rev.2, which I have just introduced and which has been before the Committee for the past 48 hours. What we put before the Committee has no condemnation and is definitely not Rev.1 but Rev.2.
(Israel): The motives that compel this Committee to adopt draft resolution, A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2, in the opinion of my delegation, are political in nature and have nothing to do with the alleged specific purpose claimed by the sponsors.
Had this draft resolution truly addressed itself to the principle of universality, as its proponents cynically claim, it should be broadly applied and Israel should not be singled out. If, on the other hand, the Committee wishes to highlight the current situation in the Middle East, it should target the real proliferators in the region that are well known to the Committee and to the international community as a whole.
Furthermore, the introduction into this draft resolution of the topic of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which certainly does not belong to the subject matter, is intended only to create a façade of respectability that this draft resolution so much lacks. As one of the original signatories of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Israel rejects these inappropriate tactics of the sponsors at a time when the Committee has already adopted a decision, in document A/C.1/52/L.7, related to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
This draft resolution renders a great disservice to the cause of non-proliferation in the Middle East by creating the illusion that it does tackle the real issue of non-proliferation. Unfortunately, the draft resolution will remain irrelevant to the evolving and dangerous situation in the Middle East. My delegation therefore calls upon all delegations to vote against this draft resolution.
(Lebanon) (interpretation from Arabic): Lebanon voted in favour of the draft resolution in document A/C.1/52/L.1 because it endorses the contents, is convinced of the noble objectives underlying this document and is faithful to the humanitarian principles it defends. Lebanon will be able to support the Convention and implement operative paragraphs 1 and 2 once the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon and the Bekaa valley and the Israeli aggression in Lebanese territories have ended.
(Israel): My delegation abstained on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.1. In view of Israel’s position regarding anti-personnel landmines, elaborated in my delegation’s explanation of vote on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.23/Rev.1, Israel is precluded from signing the Convention to be opened for signature in Ottawa, which is the main operative role of this resolution.
(United States of America): The United States will vote against this draft resolution. The draft resolution singles out Israel and is unacceptable to the United States Government in any form. Draft resolutions such as this do nothing to further our mutual arms control objectives. Substantive considerations of issues related to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East will occur only in the broader context of efforts to secure peace in the region and at a pace that all regional parties find acceptable.
The United States is of course fully committed to securing that peace, and believes that arms control in the region will be taken in due course and in a manner that is consistent with their relevance in the peace process.
(Israel): Israel will vote against draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2. Israel’s attitude towards the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has unjustifiably become a major subject of criticism in annual resolutions. No other Member State of the United Nations, including those which for national security reasons found it impossible to become parties to the NPT, has ever been subject to repeated condemnatory resolutions regarding the question of their treaty membership.
As much as Israel welcomes the indefinite extension of the NPT, Israel does not find in it an adequate response to its security problems and regional concerns in the Middle East. There is no place for criticism of Israel based on external perceptions of Israel’s political and security situation, or on subjective national experiences and lessons learned in other regions.
Another draft resolution that was already adopted by consensus by this Committee, that on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, already covers all relevant topics of principle pertaining to the nuclear issue. This in itself renders draft resolution L.5/Rev.2 superfluous and redundant. There is therefore no need for this draft resolution. Obviously its only, and I underline, its only current remaining objective is to single out and condemn Israel, with complete disregard for events in the region.
It is widely accepted that resolutions dealing with international or regional security adopted by international forums are of value only when adopted by consensus, and more so when dealing with nuclear issues. Their adoption by a majority vote renders them unrealistic and ineffective. Another negative consequence of such a majority vote is the creation of an illusion that resolutions are a proper replacement for direct and free negotiations among the concerned parties. I call once again upon all delegations to resist this annual temptation and ritual to demonstrate their support for the NPT by joining in Israel’s condemnation in this Committee.
(Islamic Republic of Iran): I should like to make a brief statement on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2, entitled “The Risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, sponsored by Egypt.
We will vote in favour of the draft resolution. In the view of my delegation, the content of this draft resolution is faithful to the real situation in the Middle East. It calls upon Israel, the only State in the Middle East that is not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to join this Treaty and place its unsafeguarded nuclear-weapons programme under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Despite repeated calls by the General Assembly on Israel to accede to the NPT and to place its nuclear-weapons programme under international International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, there has been no change in Israel’s position in this respect. We firmly believe that Israel’s accession to the NPT will facilitate the establishment of a zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
: The Committee will now vote on draft resolution A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.2 as a whole.
(Pakistan): My delegation supported the draft resolution, because we endorse the objective of promoting non-proliferation in the Middle East. We would have hoped, however, that its provisions might have been restricted to considerations relating to the region of the Middle East. We are concerned at the insertion in the draft resolution of the sixth preambular paragraph, which contains a call for adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In the light of the security environment in our region, Pakistan is not in a position to adhere to the NPT. We do not believe that that provision has added anything to the draft resolution or strengthened the possibilities of the successful attainment of its objectives. We sincerely hope that the sponsors of the draft resolution will reconsider the insertion of this provision in future.
(Saudi Arabia)(interpretation from Arabic): My delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution. As everyone knows, Israel is the only State in the Middle East region that has not acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Israel has to abandon its possession of nuclear weapons and subject all its nuclear installations to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency, because its accession to the Treaty would have a positive influence for the achievement of peace among the States of the region and reinforce trust among the peoples of the Middle East.
The meeting rose at 1.10 p.m.