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        General Assembly
20 October 2000

Official Records

General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
First Committee
19th meeting
Friday, 20 October 2000, 10 a.m.
New York

President: Mr. U Mya Than.........................(Myanmar)

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

Agenda items 65 to 81 (continued)

Thematic discussion on item subjects; introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security items

The Chairman: Before proceeding to the list of speakers I should like to inform the members of the Committee that the informal paper setting out the clusters of draft resolutions has been circulated to all delegations.


Mr. Ragab (Egypt): I have the pleasure of introducing the draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, document A/C.1/55/L.16. Such resolutions have been adopted annually by the General Assembly since 1974. Since 1980 the Assembly has adopted them by consensus — the consensus that has emerged in the General Assembly over the years as a result of the steadfast support it received in bilateral declarations and in various multilateral forums.

Just recently, the 1999 substantive session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission adopted by consensus principles and guidelines on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the regions concerned. The 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) also adopted by consensus an initiative encouraging all States, especially States of the Middle East, to reaffirm or declare their support for the objective of establishing an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction; to transmit their declarations of support to the Secretary-General of the United Nations; and to take practical steps towards that objective. These commitments constitute a clear testimony to the viability and relevance of this concept in the Middle East.

The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute to ending the proliferation of the threat from nuclear weapons, would strengthen the security of all States of the region and, consequently, would be deemed an important confidence-building measure towards the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. For more than 18 years the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone has been unanimously anticipated, a record that is testimony to the overwhelming support for the creation of the zone. However, the plain truth is that this objective seems to be eluding us. No concrete measures, no operational measures and no serious talks have yet been held, formally or informally, among regional parties with a view to bringing into practice what all of us here seem to aspire to and preach. Despite the general frustration over the stagnation of the efforts to establish the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, Egypt firmly supports the implementation of the resolution adopted annually by this body. Egypt continues to be committed to the earliest establishment and implementation of the principles and provisions of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and, indeed, of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. In a region fraught with tension, such as the Middle East, the zone cannot be looked upon as an a posteriori peace dividend but as an essential confidence-building measure facilitating and leading the way towards a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. Though we fully realize that peace, security and stability in the region of the Middle East will be achieved only when a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of disputes in the Middle East are attained, it is essential to create the necessary conditions and suitable climate to facilitate the achievement of this objective. In our view, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone would contribute substantially in this regard.

It is our considered opinion that the time is now more than ripe to proceed towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. For this reason operative paragraph 10 of the draft resolution endeavours once again to utilize the good offices of the Secretary-General in order to inject the required impetus into this process. It would be timely for us today to seriously embark on laying the solid foundations on which to proceed. In this regard, the same operative paragraph requests the Secretary-General to pursue his consultations with the States of the region and other concerned parties.

I also invite the Committee’s attention to the eighth preambular paragraph and operative paragraph 9, in which reference is made to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. This initiative aims at broadening the scope of the 1974 initiative by adding to it chemical and biological weapons. Since the announcement of this initiative by President Hosni Mubarak on 9 April 1990, later encompassed by his broader initiative in June 1998 to convene an international conference to free the world from all weapons of mass destruction, the 1990 initiative has been attracting an ever-growing degree of support. The Security Council, for example, adopted resolution 687 (1991), dated 8 April 1991, paragraph 14 of which reiterates in essence the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Secretary-General proposed in his Millennium report, document A/54/2000, the convening of a major international conference that would help to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers.

Finally, I commend to the First Committee this draft resolution and earnestly hope that it will receive the same support that similar resolutions have received in previous years, and will be adopted without a vote.

Mr. Mohammed (Iraq) (spoke in Arabic): Our delegation wishes to comment on draft resolution A/C.1/55/L.16, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.

All the Arab States have adhered to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Nevertheless, their adherence has not provided them with the necessary security requirements in the face of the continuing Israeli nuclear threat. The international community, represented by specialized agencies, did not assume the required role to put a stop to the Israeli nuclear threat or to compel Israel to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. When the Iraqi nuclear facilities placed under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were subjected to an aggression by the Zionist entity in 1981, the Security Council adopted resolution 487 (1981) calling upon that entity to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. But up to the present moment it has refused to comply with that resolution or with other resolutions adopted by the General Assembly. That entity’s blatant defiance of international resolutions, coupled with its expansionist policy at the expense of Arab territories, all subject the region to very serious threats. In addition, the practices of the Zionist entity recently in the occupied Palestinian territories and the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan are but the latest proof that there is a fragile security situation in the region as a result of the policies of that entity. That is why the security and stability of the Middle East necessitates doing away with all weapons of mass destruction so as to make the zone free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, in pursuance of paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.

Israel’s continuing nuclear programme outside the international regime for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the refusal of the Zionist entity to adhere to the NPT, or to place its facilities under the comprehensive safeguards regime of the IAEA, presents a threat to Arab national security and diminishes the credibility and universality of the NPT. The consecration of the status quo by forcing all the States of the region, with the exception of Israel, to adhere to the regime of non-proliferation represents a selective policy and an imbalance which threatens the security and stability of the region. It is not acceptable. That is why the international community must demand universal guarantees for the implementation of all the provisions dealing with non-proliferation without applying a double standard, and to adopt all the necessary measures which will achieve that purpose, in keeping with the provisions of the Charter.

Our delegation will join the consensus on the draft resolution in document A/C.1/55/L.16, even though it does not fully satisfy the concerns we have just expressed, which could have been included in the draft resolution, because of the dangers represented by Israeli nuclear weapons to international peace and security at the regional and international levels.


The meeting rose at 11.40 a.m.

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