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


GA/DIS/3131
9 December 2002

ISRAEL'S FAILURE TO ACCEDE TO NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY
SUBJECT OF DRAFT RESOLUTION APPROVED BY FIRST COMMITTEE


Committee Also Approves Draft Text On Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone


The General Assembly, noting that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), would call upon that State to accede to the Treaty without further delay and not develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, according to one of two Middle East draft resolutions approved this afternoon in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

Under further terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon that State to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Agency (IAEA) safeguards, as an important confidence-building measure and as a step towards enhancing peace and security. The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions. (For details of the vote see Annex II.)

Prior to approval of the draft, the Committee took a separate recorded vote on the sixth preambular paragraph, which recalls the decision of the 1995 Conference of the Parties to the NPT to call upon all States not yet party to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date, particularly those States that operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. The paragraph was approved by a vote of 141 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 2 abstentions (Cuba, Pakistan) (Annex I).

A second draft text, concerning the establishment of a nuclear-weapon- free zone in the Middle East, was approved without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required to establish such a zone. It would invite concerned countries to adhere to the NPT, and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or to allow the stationing of those weapons on their territories.

By further terms, the Assembly would call on all countries of the region to place all their nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards. Noting the importance of the ongoing peace negotiations in promoting the zone's establishment, the Assembly would invite all States to assist in that regard and to refrain from action that would run counter to both the letter and spirit of the resolution.

Also today, the Committee discussed the Chairman's proposal to submit an informal paper containing the seven amendments submitted with the draft resolution on nuclear testing. While several delegations sought clarification on the purpose of the paper and warned that anything that would confuse or prejudice the uniqueness of each amendment would be objectionable, the Committee decided that, in order to facilitate the voting, an informal paper containing the amendments would be circulated tomorrow. The Committee is scheduled to take action on the draft on Thursday, 12 November.

Statements were made by the representatives of Cameroon, South Africa, Israel, Iran, United States, Cuba and India.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 10 November, to continue taking action on all disarmament and security-related draft resolutions.

Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue taking action on all disarmament and security-related draft resolutions. It had before it two draft texts on the Middle East, one concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation and the other on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

A draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear- weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.3) would have the General Assembly urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required to establish such a zone and, as a means of promoting that objective, invite concerned countries to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It would call on all countries of the region to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

By further terms, the Assembly would invite those countries not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or to allow the stationing of those 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 spirit of the resolution.

By the terms of a draft text sponsored by Egypt on behalf of States members of the League of Arab States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.21/Rev.2), the Assembly, noting that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East not party to the NPT, would call upon that State to: accede to the Treaty without further delay; not develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons; renounce possession of nuclear weapons; and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards as an important confidence- building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-fourth session on the implementation of the draft and decide to include the item in that session's provisional agenda.

Action on Draft Texts

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The Committee then approved the draft text on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.3) without a vote.

In explanation of the position, the representative of Israel said he had joined in the consensus, despite the resolution's inherent deficiencies. Nonetheless, joining the consensus should not be interpreted as agreement to all the provisions and modalities of the draft. He joined the consensus mainly because of his conviction that a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone would serve as an important complement to the overall peace, security and stability of the region.

Continuing, he said his country firmly believed in the eventual establishment of mutually verifiable zone, and would like to see such a zone free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as ballistic missiles. His Government believed the zone should be established through direct negotiations between States, once they recognized each other and established full and peaceful relations. It could not be established by anyone other than the parties themselves, nor could it be established between States claiming to be in a state of war.

He said the zone would be directly negotiated, achieving on a regional basis the non-proliferation goals of the NPT. As proven in other regions, a step-by-step approach, starting with confidence-building measures and the gradual forging of a peaceful environment, would eventually lead to much more ambitious plans, such as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Consensus on the resolution had been maintained since 1980, because all the parties concerned had found a way to respect each other's interpretations and reservations regarding the resolution. His delegation hoped that the same sense of responsibility would prevail in the discussion of other draft texts concerning the Middle East.

The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of the vote on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, said that the zone's establishment at an early date was the most viable way to achieve peace and security in the region. That had been his country's consistent position since 1974, when it initiated the General Assembly resolution on the zone's establishment.

He said that the main obstacle to realizing the zone, at present, was Israel's refusal to join the NPT and to put its nuclear weapons programme under IAEA safeguards. The establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was a separate issue and should not become hostage to other matters. His delegation had been unable to co-sponsor the draft, due to the first preambular paragraph and operative paragraph 4. It, nevertheless, wholeheartedly supported its content.

The Committee next took up the draft resolution concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.21/Rev.2).

A separate vote was requested on the sixth preambular paragraph, which recalled the decision of the 1995 Conference of the parties to the NPT to call upon all States not yet party to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date, particularly those States that operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

The Sixth preambular paragraph was approved by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 2 abstentions (Cuba, Pakistan). (For details of the vote see Annex I.)

The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on the draft as a whole, said that the text was the only one to single out a Member State. It dealt with an important issue, but did not address the realities in the region. Many nuclear-related developments had occurred in recent years, such as the sombre experience gained by the inspection team of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) on the disposal of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as other activities undertaken by some countries in the region. None had involved Israel, which had never threatened any neighbour or violated international law. Israel had always demonstrated sensitivity commensurate with the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

He said that the draft's co-sponsors were not really promoting its alleged specific purpose. Other drafts on crucial issues were presented in a restrained manner and avoided singling out any one State. When it came to Israel, such restraint was ignored. As it advocated universal adherence to the NPT, the text should be broadly applied and refrain from singling out Israel. Moreover, it should target the real proliferator in the region, who was well known in the Committee and the international community as a whole. Israel would negotiate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in due time.

Such a zone should be supported by all States in the region, he went on. The statement that emerged from the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference -- that those zones should be created on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States -- was a clear and sufficient statement on the subject. The draft deviated from that great principle and compelled him to oppose it. It certainly would not lead to confidence-building and reconciliation, without which further development of the situation was impossible. Also, the draft would not change the prevailing situation. Rather, it was likely to be dangerous and counter-productive, implying that the regional process could be circumvented by international bodies.

Further, he said the text attempted to coerce Israel to act on a unilateral decision that was its sovereign right. The draft rendered a great disservice to the cause of non-proliferation in the Middle East and did not reflect the positive developments in the peace process or the changes on the ground. All delegations should, therefore, vote against it.

The representative of the United States, also speaking in explanation of vote, said that since its inception the draft had been opposed by the United States since it was inappropriate to single out for criticism one State for its failure to adhere to the NPT. No matter how much the draft might be softened, it suffered from its defective underlying intent. The present text was even more objectionable in a year when two countries that tested nuclear weapons were not mentioned in a related draft. How, then, could anybody justify criticizing by name another State that had not tested nuclear weapons? he asked.

He drew attention to the recent signing of the Wye River Memorandum, which would hopefully reinvigorate the peace process. Did the draft contribute to the peace process or make it more difficult? he asked. The answer was clear and other Members should consider those arguments carefully. For its part, the United States would vote no.

The draft resolution as a whole on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.21/Rev.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 10 abstentions (Annex II).

The representative of Angola said that his vote in favour of the draft had not been properly recorded.

The representative of Cuba, speaking in explanation of vote, said that his delegation had supported the text, which had contributed to peace efforts in the Middle East. Undoubtedly, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, far from reducing existing tensions, would be a major obstacle to lasting peace in that delicate region. Cuba's affirmative vote, however, did not reflect a change in its position regarding the NPT, which was discriminatory and selective and legitimized unacceptable rights for nuclear-weapon States. That was why he had abstained during the separate vote on the sixth preambular paragraph.

The representative of India, speaking in explanation of vote, said that her country's long-standing views on the NPT were well known. She was thus obliged to vote against the sixth preambular paragraph and abstained in the vote on the draft as a whole.



ANNEX I

Vote on Sixth Preambular Paragraph of Middle East Proliferation


The sixth preambular paragraph, which refers to States operating unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, of the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation to the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.21/Rev.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 2 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: India, Israel.

Abstain: Cuba, Pakistan.

Absent: Afghanistan, Belize, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Honduras, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.



ANNEX II

Vote on Middle East Nuclear Proliferation


The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/53/L.21/Rev.2) was approved by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against, with 10 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, India, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Norway, Singapore.

Absent: Afghanistan, Angola, Belize, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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