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        General Assembly
22 October 2001

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
First Committee
12th meeting
Monday, 22 October 2001, 10 a.m.
New York

President:Mr. Erdös .......................................................................(Hungary)

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.

Agenda items 64 to 84 ( continued)

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


Mr. Khairat (Egypt): I have the pleasure to introduce the draft resolution entitled “ Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, which is contained in document A/C.1/56/L.5.

The General Assembly has annually adopted a draft resolution with this title since 1974 — since 1980 by consensus. That consensus emerged over the years, and the proposal has also received steadfast support in bilateral declarations and in various multilateral forums, one of the latest instances being during the 1999 substantive session of the Disarmament Commission, with the adoption by consensus of the Principles and guidelines on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the states of the region concerned. Those principles and guidelines encouraged the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in regions with regard to which consensus resolutions of the General Assembly exist, such as the Middle East.

The latest instance of such support came during the 2000 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), whose consensus Final Document invited

“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.” (NPT/CONF.2000/28, Parts I and II, p. 18)

The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute to arresting the proliferation of the threat from nuclear weapons and to strengthening 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.

During the forty-fifth session of the General Assembly, the study (A/45/435, annex) on effective and verifiable measures which would facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The study was well received as a useful and balanced approach to attain an important objective, which indeed we have to pursue.

For over 21 years now, the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone has been unanimously anticipated — a record which indeed testifies to the overwhelming support for the creation of such a 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 even informally, among regional parties with a view to putting into practice what all of us here seem to aspire to or preach.

Despite the general frustration over the stagnation of the efforts to establish the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, Egypt firmly supports implementation of the resolution that is annually adopted. Nevertheless, our endorsement must not be misconstrued or misinterpreted as tacit acquiescence. To the contrary, Egypt continues to be committed to the earliest and speedy establishment and implementation of the principles and provisions for 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, such a zone cannot be looked upon as an a posteriori peace dividend; instead, it should be seen as an essential confidence-building measure facilitating, and leading the way towards, a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, a peace which indeed will provide a better future for coming generations.

We fully realize that peace, security and stability in the region of the Middle East will only be achieved when a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the disputes in the Middle East is attained. It is essential to create the necessary conditions and suitable climate that would facilitate the achievement of this objective. In our view, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone would contribute substantially.

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, paragraph 10 of the draft resolution endeavours once again to utilize the good offices of the Secretary-General to inject the necessary stimulus into the process. It seems timely today to seriously embark on laying a solid foundation on which to proceed in this regard. The same paragraph requests the Secretary-General to pursue his consultations with the States of the region and other concerned States.

I also draw the Committee’s attention to the eighth preambular paragraph and paragraph 9, in which reference is made to the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, thus aiming to broaden the scope of the 1974 initiative by adding chemical and biological weapons. Since the announcement by President Hosni Mubarak on 9 April 1990 of this initiative, later encompassed by his broader initiative of June 1998 to convene an international conference to free the world from all weapons of mass destruction, the 1990 initiative has been attracting ever-growing support. For example, the Security Council adopted in April 1991 resolution 687 (1991), which in paragraph 14 reiterates the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, as the draft resolution retains the same language as last year, with no changes, I commend it to the First Committee, earnestly hoping that it will receive the same support as in the previous 21 years and that, as in the past, it will be adopted without a vote.


The meeting rose at 11.05 a.m.

This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.

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