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In the absence of the Chairman, Mr. Alcalay (Venezuela), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda items 64 to 84
Action on all draft resolutions submitted under all items
The Acting Chairman : In accordance with the adopted programme of work and timetable, this afternoon the Committee will commence the third phase of its work, namely action on all draft resolutions submitted under agenda items 64 to 84 as approved this morning. As I mentioned at that meeting also, the Committee will proceed this afternoon to take action on draft resolutions that appear in informal working paper No. 1, which all members have received, under cluster 1, Nuclear weapons, beginning with draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5, entitled “ Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.
The Acting Chairman ( spoke in Spanish ): Does any other delegation wish to speak? I see none, so I now call on those delegations wishing to explain their vote or position on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5 before a decision is taken.
Mr. Durrani (Pakistan): Pakistan fully shares the security concerns of Arab countries vis-à-vis Israel and supports efforts towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Therefore Pakistan will support the draft resolution introduced by Egypt in document A/C.1/56/L.5.
The Acting Chairman : If no other delegation wishes to speak, the Committee will now take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5.
I call on the Secretary of the Committee.
Mr. Sattar (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5, entitled “ Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, was introduced by the representative of Egypt at the Committee’s 12th meeting, on 22 October 2001.
The Acting Chairman : The sponsors of draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5 have expressed the wish that it be adopted by the Committee without a vote. If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Committee wishes to act accordingly.
Draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5 was adopted.
The Acting Chairman : I now call on those representatives who wish to explain their position on the draft resolution just adopted.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel joined the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, as it has done for the last 20 years, notwithstanding substantive and important reservations regarding certain elements in the draft resolution.
The policy of Israel has always maintained that the nuclear issue, as well as all regional security issues, conventional and unconventional, should be dealt with in the full context of the peace process. Israel supports the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. It should also be free of chemical and biological weapons as well as ballistic missiles. Israel believes that the political realities in the Middle East mandate a practical step-by-step approach. This should begin with modest confidence-building measures, be followed by the establishment of peaceful relations enriching reconciliation, and be, possibly, complemented by conventional and unconventional arms control measures. That process could eventually lead to more ambitious goals such as establishing a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
As the international community has recognized, the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone should be based on arrangements freely arrived at among all the States of the region concerned. Israel believes that such a zone can be established only through direct negotiations among the States of the region after they recognize each other and have established full, peaceful and diplomatic relations among themselves. It cannot be established other than by the parties themselves. Nor could it be established in a situation where some States maintain that they are in a state of war with each other, refuse in principle to maintain peaceful relations with Israel, or even recognize its right to exist.
In this context it should be recalled that in the Middle East, unlike other regions in the world where nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established, there are continuing threats by elements in the region and beyond against the very existence of one State in the region, Israel. That has a critical impact on the region’s ability to establish such a zone. In view of the present reality our efforts in the context of this draft resolution should be focused on the creation of a stable environment of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. Israel will continue to dedicate all its efforts to achieve this goal. We call upon our neighbours to do the same.
Mr. Bar (Israel): I wish to make an explanation of vote on the previous draft resolution on the fissile material cut-off.
The Acting Chairman ( spoke in Spanish ): On the previous draft resolution that the Committee has already adopted? If there is no objection I will call on the representative of Israel.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel has joined the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.31 because it believes that the objective of a fissile material cut-off treaty is subsumed under the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone concept. Israel’s approach to this concept was elaborated a few minutes ago in our delegation’s explanation of vote on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.5, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”. In practical terms, the modalities of this draft resolution cannot be assessed in isolation from the peace process in all its aspects and the overall effort to reduce tension, curb proliferation and limit armaments in our region.
Mr. Khairat (Egypt): I wish to make an explanation of vote on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.32. Egypt has traditionally supported all measures leading to the promotion of international and regional stability and has always committed itself to engage in constructive action in fulfilment of that objective. From that standpoint we cannot but sympathize with the general thrust of draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.32. It addresses a global instrument which aims at prohibiting a whole category of weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical weapons, thus making the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) effective in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
Nevertheless, Egypt would like to stress once again its well-known position vis-à-vis the Convention and its implications in the Middle East region. Our commitment to the prohibition of chemical weapons and all weapons of mass destruction is set out vividly in President Mubarak’s 1990 initiative on the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. In it, he underscored the following elements: first, a total prohibition in the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction without exception, be they nuclear, chemical or biological; and secondly, a solemn declaration by all States in the region, without exception, of reciprocal commitment and obligation in this regard.
That prompted the Security Council to support our initiative, as mentioned in its resolution 687 (1991) and in the Security Council statement of 1992. We believe in this regard that priority must be given to freeing the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction in order to increase the security of the States of the region and to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace. That lasting peace cannot be achieved through a qualitative edge or military superiority but through dialogue, negotiations and a deep commitment to peace and equal security.
Although Egypt participated actively in the long and arduous negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament that led to the elaboration of the provisions of the CWC, it has voiced its position since day one, when the Convention opened for signature in January 1993 at the Paris Conference. Indeed, our standpoint emanates from and is firmly based on our regional considerations and concerns. We will continue to decline to sign the CWC until Israel joins the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Egypt acted in good faith and ratified the NPT in 1980, and it has remained faithful to the regime since then by working to consolidate it; it is now Israel’s turn to act likewise.
Mr. Bar (Israel): Israel joined the consensus on draft resolution A/C.1/56/L.32, entitled “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (CWC). Israel signed the Convention and participated actively in the Preparatory Commission in order to shape the Convention into a workable mechanism. By signing the Convention, Israel reflected its moral vision and commitment to a world free of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, while Israel signed the Convention in January 1993, other countries in the region, including those that have used chemical weapons in the past or are believed to be working to improve their chemical capability, failed to follow suit and have indicated that their position would remain unchanged even if Israel ratified the Convention.
The reason Israel has not yet ratified the CWC relates to Israel’s unique geopolitical environment. We wish to recall that at the signing ceremony in 1993, Israel made it clear that it would seek to ratify the Convention subject, inter alia, to regional security concerns. The threat of chemical warfare against Israel’s population has not diminished since then, and remains to this day. In fact, the overall regional security concern has actually increased. We wish to reaffirm Israel’s view that positive changes in the security climate in the Middle East will be the major consideration for Israel regarding the issue of ratification.
The meeting rose at 4.50 p.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.