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


GA/DIS/3208
23 October 2001


First Committee
13 th Meeting (AM)
Fifty-sixth General Assembly

DISARMAMENT PROGRESS CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBAL EFFORT AGAINST

TERRORISM STATES DRAFT TEXT INTRODUCED BY CHAIRMAN IN FIRST COMMITTEE

Thirteen Drafts Introduced, Including Resolutions
On Preserving ABM Treaty, Totally Eliminating Nuclear Weapons


The Chairman of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning submitted a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would emphasize that progress towards the achievement of disarmament and non-proliferation objectives was urgently essential to maintaining peace and security and would contribute to global efforts against terrorism.

Introducing one of 11 draft resolutions and 2 decisions tabled today, André Erdos (Hungary) said that adopting a resolution on the fight against terrorism in the area of the Committee's competence seemed of utmost importance. If he failed in his attempt to reach consensus, however, he would withdraw the text.

The Russian Federation’s representative introduced a draft resolution on preserving and complying with the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), saying that, in light of continuing talks between Russia and the United States, the utmost care should be exercised with regard to both the ABM Treaty and the international legal architecture in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. Erosion of that architecture would lead to a "legal vacuum and strategic chaos". The text was sponsored by Belarus, China, and the Russian Federation.

Draft texts on the following issues were also introduced: reducing nuclear danger; a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; a convention on nuclear weapons; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States; 2005 review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice follow-up; new agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; and the report of the Conference on Disarmament.

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Turning to the situation in the Middle East, the representative of Egypt introduced a text by which the Assembly would call upon Israel to accede to the NPT without delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Israel would also be called upon to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region, and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

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Under a draft resolution introduced by the representative of Brazil on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere, the Assembly would call upon all States to support the process of nuclear disarmament and work for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. It would also call upon them to consider all relevant proposals, including those reflected in its resolutions on the establishment of such zones in the Middle East and South Asia.

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Background

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The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on all disarmament and security items and the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions. That phase of work will conclude on Tuesday, 30 October.

Introductions of draft texts on the following topics were expected: global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation; Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty; reducing nuclear danger; a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; convention on nuclear weapons; new agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States; 2005 review of NPT; advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice follow-up; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; and report of the Conference on Disarmament.

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According to a text on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (document A/C.1/56/L.24), the Assembly, convinced of the important role of nuclear-weapon-free zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and in extending the areas of the world that are nuclear-weapon-free, and with particular reference to the responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon States, would call upon all States to support the process of nuclear disarmament and work for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons.

It would welcome the steps taken to conclude further nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned and call upon all States to consider all relevant proposals, including those reflected in its resolutions on the establishment of such zones in the Middle East and South Asia.

In a related provision, the Assembly would call upon the States parties and signatories to the existing nuclear-weapon-free zone Treaties, in order to pursue the common goals those envisaged and promote the nuclear-weapon-free status of the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas, to explore and implement further ways and means of cooperation among themselves and their treaty agencies.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25) the Assembly would call upon Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) without delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. It would also call upon Israel to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (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 reaffirm the importance of Israel's accession to the NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East. It would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its next session on the implementation of the present resolution.

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Introduction of Drafts

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ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt ) introduced the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L. 25). The text did not introduce any changes and contained the same language as last year's text, he said. It reflected the prevailing realities in the Middle East, which underlined the basic fact of the region, namely that Israel remained the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT. That was stated in the preambular portion of the text. The text was not "name calling" or singling out anyone, nor was it confrontational in nature. Rather, that was a clear reflection of the reality, which was stated in a careful and descriptive manner. Universal adherence to the NPT was a priority not only for the Middle East, but for the world community, as a whole; that would consolidate the edifice of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

He said that the draft text conveyed the concern of the international community over the continued presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation. The issue was of particular importance and urgency today, since all countries of the region, except Israel, had become parties to the NPT and had accepted comprehensive IAEA safeguards on nuclear activities. On 19 May 2000, States parties to the NPT took a leading step in recognizing that concern by reiterating the importance of accession to the Treaty in the Middle East, as well as the importance of accession by Israel and the submission of its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. The consensus final document was a positive contribution to the non-proliferation endeavours in the region.

The present draft, for the second year, flowed from that consensus and reflected accepted principles and language adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, he said. The continuation of such an imbalance and asymmetry in States' commitments in the Middle East could not but aggravate serious security concerns there and undermine regional efforts aimed at establishing confidence-building measures, in particular the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone there. On behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, he hoped the text would receive overwhelming support for draft. Last year, in a show of direct support, the text had received an unprecedented 157 votes in favour -- from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere. He hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

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MOHAMED AL-HASSAN (Oman ) in commenting on a draft resolution the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25) said that his country and the international community were overwhelmed by the broad support for NPT. The NPT had moved from being a non-proliferation, and to some extent disarmament, treaty to being a cornerstone for nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, too many countries remained outside the regime. Today, the credibility of the treaty itself was at stake.

In the Middle East only one State, Israel, remained outside of the NPT. That was not acceptable to Oman and should not be accepted by the international community. Any threat to a region by nuclear weapons was a threat for all regions. In the Middle East, there was a real threat from nuclear weapons, posed by one State’s refusal to join the NPT and accept IAEA safeguards. He was quite dismayed that more than a decade had passed without progress in achieving regional peace and security. The international community and the depository States must assume their responsibility and convince those in the region that had not yet done so to sign the NPT. That would make all States subject to the rule of law and move the region closer to peace.

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RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan ) in commenting on the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/C.1/56/L.25) said that the resolution conveys the concerns of States in the region, as well as those of the international community. That was because the resolution was concerned with unsafeguarded nuclear materials in the Middle East and the regional threat of nuclear weapons. He hoped the draft resolution -- for a “noble cause” -- would be adopted by consensus.

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Right of Reply

ALON BAR (Israel ), speaking in right of reply, said that the delegation of Egypt had introduced two resolutions regarding the Middle East. With regard to the draft for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region (document A/C.1/56/L.5), that text had been adopted by consensus for more than 20 years and Israel would continue to be part of consensus. Notwithstanding certain reservations regarding the modalities contained in the text, its overall objective was more important to him.

He said that with regard to the second draft presented today, on the " so-called" risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25), he categorically rejected both the overall objective and specific working of the text. It singled out Israel and was the only draft to have taken issue with the sovereign right of a country to adopt a particular position with regard to an international convention. The text sought to embarrass and pressure Israel. That one-sided resolution would have absolutely no effect on Israel's position. It would not compromise on issues of its national security. If the text had embarrassed anyone, it was its sponsors. The language might not have changed from last year, but the entire context of international peace and security had changed.

Continuing, he said that a real solution to real problems was needed, not a politically divisive text that undermined confidence and sowed distrust. He supported non-proliferation and Israel had an impeccable record in that regard. It had never adopted any policy against the NPT regime and had joined consensus on the text for a nuclear-weapon-free zone. That objective should be achieved through direct negotiation. The text on the "risk" had only made attainment of the goal (of a nuclear-weapon-free zone) more remote by ignoring the real proliferation threat in the Middle East, to which his delegation had referred in the general debate.

Arms control and regional security in the Middle East could only be improved by introducing a culture of dialogue and peace, and not by confrontation, he said. He hoped neighbours in the region would adopt a similar approach and make the "risk" resolution as obsolete as it was unhelpful. He sought to create a better environment in arms control by showing a flexible spirit, wherever possible. Support of Committee members for the " risk" resolution was a discouraging reaction to those efforts. He was patiently awaiting a positive change in that regard.

Mr. KHAIRAT (Egypt ) said, referring to his earlier statement, that the resolution was not an embarrassment to the co-sponsors, or to anybody. It was trying to reflect the present reality in the Middle East, where only one State, Israel, had nuclear power and was not acceding to the NPT or placing its facilities under IAEA safeguards. The text was not confrontational. It had included wording unanimously agreed to by the NPT parties, highlighting the importance of accession to it and submitting nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards. That was not a discouraging resolution, but an encouraging one, aimed at more security and stability in the region.


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