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

12 November 1998


Additional Work Urged on Draft Convention to Suppress Nuclear Terrorism,
Support Given for Proposal to Elaborate Convention Curbing Terrorist Funding

The Sixth Committee (Legal) this afternoon concluded its two-day discussion of measures to eliminate international terrorism, reviewed the draft convention for suppression of nuclear terrorism; discussed elaboration of a convention to curb financing of terrorist activities; and spoke of the vital importance of denying terrorists safe haven.


Committee Work Programme

The Sixth Committee met this afternoon to continue consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism, focusing on draft articles prepared by its working group on the convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. (For background information, see Press Release GA/L/3093, of 11 November).



GHASSAN OBEID (Syria) condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and reiterated his country's position that a distinction had to be drawn between international terrorism and the legitimate struggle for national self-determination. Israel's possession of nuclear weapons was threatening to its neighbours. The Arab and Palestinian struggle for their occupied lands was a historic fact which could not be altered to justify Israeli occupation.


Syria supported the Zimbabwe statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the call for the convening of an international conference on the elaboration of a comprehensive instrument on terrorism. He said some delegations strongly doubted the capability of individuals to commit acts of nuclear terrorism without the complicity of States. The countries of the Non- Aligned Movement had expressed their concerns about the draft on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. In the light of the various concerns expressed on the draft, he said an opportunity should be provided for those countries to present proposals. He hoped a consensus could be achieved on the draft text.

He said State terrorism was more dangerous than individual terrorism.

He regretted that there had not been much time in the working group for consideration of the question, including an acceptable definition of terrorism. He felt the Ad Hoc Committee should review the draft text. The number of ratifications needed for the convention should be higher.

Palestinians, struggling to regain their occupied lands from Israel, could not be called terrorists. Similar struggles were being waged by the Lebanese in southern Lebanon and by Syrians in occupied Syrian Golan. Syria condemned individual terrorism and acts of State terrorism, like those carried out by Israel. Israel continued to flout United Nations resolutions.

Right of Reply

ESTHER EFRAT-SMILG (Israel), exercising her right of reply, said Israel had stated time and again that it would not be first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. She said the recent memorandum of understanding reached between Israel and Palestine covered issues under discussion in Committee. Among the provisions was an undertaking by the Palestinian Authority to combat acts of terrorism, apprehend individuals suspected of terrorist acts and to prevent incitement to violence.

Concerning Syria, she said Syria must engage in direct negotiations with Israel, under the agreed procedure reached at the Madrid conference.

Mr. OBEID (Syria), also in right of reply, said the representative of Israel had avoided the most important point in his statement -- the occupation by Israel of Arab and Palestinian lands. Syria was ready to resume negotiations at the point left off at the Madrid conference and based on the land-for-peace principle. Israel had to respect international law, by returning the occupied lands.

Ms. EFRAT-SMILG (Israel), again exercising her right of reply, said Israel had worked for peace. It was willing to negotiate a peace settlement with its neighbours. It was also willing to negotiate with Syria without preconditions and on the basis of Security Council resolution 242.

Mr. OBEID (Syria) also exercising a second right of reply, reiterated his country's willingness to resume negotiations with Israel, but was not prepared to reopen issues already covered at the Madrid conference. He again said that Israel was the only country in the region which possessed nuclear weapons and carried out assassinations and acts of terrorism.


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