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


GA/DIS/3095
10 November 1997



MULTILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS FOR NUCLEAR-WEAPON
ELIMINATION CALLED FOR IN FIRST COMMITTEE DRAFT RESOLUTION

Committee Approves 13 Texts concerning, among Others,
Disarmament Negotiations, Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, Biological Weapons


The General Assembly would once again call upon all States to commence multilateral negotiations in 1998 leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination, according to a draft resolution approved this afternoon by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

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By four other nuclear-weapon-free zone texts, approved by the Committee without a vote, the Assembly would:

-- Urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required for the establishment of nuclear-weapon- free zone in the region of the Middle East;

-- Call upon all countries to support the establishment of a nuclear- weapon-free zone in Central Asia;

-- Urge ratification of the amendments to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) in order to consolidate the Treaty's regime; and

-- Call upon African States to sign and ratify the African Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) as soon as possible.

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Committee Work Programme

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Six of the texts concern nuclear-weapon-free zones, including the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and in the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty; and the consolidation of the regime established by the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).

Other nuclear weapon-related texts concern the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; effective assurances to non-nuclear weapon States against the nuclear-weapon threat; and a draft decision on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

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The Committee was expected to introduce and take action on the following draft resolutions:

A text on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.5/Rev.1), 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 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to accede to the Treaty without further delay, and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons and to renounce possession of nuclear weapons.

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 non-safeguarded 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.

Further terms of the text would ask the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-third session on the implementation of the resolution.

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The Committee is also expected to take action on the following drafts previously introduced and contained in its clusters on nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction:

A text sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free- zone in region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/52/L.4) would have the General Assembly urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required for the establishment of such a zone, and as a means of promoting that objective, it would invite concerned countries to adhere to the NPT.

The Assembly would call upon all countries of the region to place their nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards. It would invite the countries of the region not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, or to allow the stationing of such weapons on their territories. Noting the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations in promoting the establishment of such a zone, the Assembly would invite all States to assist in the establishment of the zone and to refrain from action that would run counter to both the letter and the spirit of the resolution.

By amendments to that draft submitted by Israel (document A/C.1/52/L.49), operative paragraph 4 would be replaced with the following:

"Notes the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations and the activities of the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East, including the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone."

[Operative paragraph 4 in the original text, submitted by Egypt, reads as follows:

"Notes the importance of the ongoing bilateral Middle East peace negotiations and the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East, including the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone."

A draft decision on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (document A/C.1/52/L.7), sponsored by Australia, would have the Assembly decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session.

A draft resolution on a convention to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/52/L.15) would have the Assembly reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention to prohibit the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. It would use, as a possible basis for the text, a draft convention annexed to the draft resolution. The Assembly would request the Conference to report to the General Assembly on the results of those negotiations.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Sudan and Viet Nam.

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Statements

MAHMUD KAREMA (Egypt), referring to the draft introduced last Friday on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (A/C.1/52/L.4), said that it should reflect honestly the developments, as his country viewed and felt them during the last year in the Middle East. Consensus on the draft had been achieved since 1980, and it was in that spirit of accommodation that his delegation held extensive consultations with other interested parties over the weekend and was now prepared to withdraw some previously submitted amendments.

He said that the first sentence in operative paragraph 4 would now include the phrase "activities of" in reference to the multilateral Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security. Also, the word "actively" in the first line of operative paragraph 10 would be deleted. Those changes were made in order to preserve the spirit of compromise and consensus that had worked well for the draft since 1980. His country had initiated the draft in 1974 and had worked very hard towards its consensus. Because of the dear principles and provisions enshrined in the draft, he hoped for consensus.

There was a technical error in operative paragraph 3 concerning the application of IAEA safeguards, which he hoped the Secretariat would address.

DAVID DANIELI (Israel) said that he was willing to withdraw his two amendments (contained in A/C.1/52/L.46 and L.49), with the understanding of the changes just described, namely the addition of the words "the activities of" within the body of operative paragraph 4 and the deletion of the word "actively" in the first line of operative paragraph 10. The changes would be issued in a revised text. He was in a position to join consensus and would explain his position after the draft was approved.

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Action on Texts

The draft on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (A/C.1/52/L.4) was approved without a vote.

Explaining his support for the draft, the representative of Iran said he was convinced that the establishment of such a zone at an early date would be the most viable way to realize peace and security in the area. It had been the consistent position of Iran since 1974. The main obstacle was Israel's refusal to join the NPT and to put its weapons under IAEA safeguards. While Iran did not feel it could be a co-sponsor of the draft, he wholeheartedly supported its intentions.

The representative of Israel said he had joined the consensus on the draft, in spite of its inherent deficiencies. He was convinced that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone would be an important complement to security in the region. All the issues should be dealt with within the overall peace process. The political realities in the region mandated a practical step-by step approach, which had been successful elsewhere. He added that he hoped that the sense of responsibility shown by the Committee on that issue would prevail in its consideration of other drafts.

The representative of Syria, explaining his support of the draft, said he had done so because he wished to support consensus, and was aware of the vital importance of creating nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East and around the world. Establishing such a zone was not a prerequisite to the peace process. However, such an important confidence-building measure could not be taken as long as Israel continued to occupy Arab territories.

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