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


GA/DIS/3207
22 October 2001


Fifty-sixth General Assembly
First Committee
12th Meeting (AM)

UN CONFERENCE BY 2006 ON ELIMINATING NUCLEAR DANGERS CALLED FOR,

AS FIRST COMMITTEE HEARS INTRODUCTION OF SEVEN DRAFT TEXTS


Others Concern Test-Ban Treaty,
Nuclear Waste Disposal, Fissile Material Ban, Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones


The General Assembly would decide to convene a United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers not later than 2006 in New York, according to one of six draft resolutions and one draft decision introduced this morning in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), as it began its second stage of work.

According to the new initiative, introduced by the representative of Mexico, the Assembly would follow-up the resolve expressed by Member States in the Millennium Declaration and underline the need to address nuclear disarmament and the proliferation of other weapons of mass destruction. It would also decide to establish a preparatory committee, which would hold its first session in New York not later than July 2003.

Draft texts on the following issues were also introduced today: the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; negotiations banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; a ban on dumping radioactive waste; and nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa.

Under a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt, the Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. As a means of promoting that objective, it would invite the countries concerned to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

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Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin 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: eliminating nuclear dangers; the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; negotiations banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; Treaty of Tlatelolco; Treaty of Pelindaba; and prohibiting the dumping of radioactive waste.

General discussions today and tomorrow will focus on nuclear weapons, although introduction of draft texts and related comments could be on any item before the Committee.

Following its consideration of nuclear weapons, the Committee will take up issues of other weapons of mass destruction, then the disarmament aspects of outer space. That would be followed by consideration of: conventional weapons; regional disarmament and security; confidence-building measures, including transparency in armaments; disarmament machinery; other disarmament measures; related matters; and international security.

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By the terms of a draft text sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.5), the Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal for such a zone in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Assembly, and, as a means of promoting this objective, would invite the countries concerned to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

It would call upon all countries of the region that had not yet done so, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It would also take note of the resolution adopted in September by the General Conference of the IAEA at its forty-fifth regular session, concerning the application of Agency safeguards in the Middle East.

[The resolution of the General Conference of the IAEA of September 2001 (document GC (45)/RES/18) affirms the urgent need for all States in the Middle East to forthwith accept the application of full-scope Agency safeguards to all their nuclear activities as an important confidence-building measure among all States in the region and as a step in enhancing peace and security in the context of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

The text also calls upon all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and appropriate steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a mutually verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, and invites the countries concerned to adhere to international non-proliferation regimes, including the NPT.]

In a related provision, the Assembly would invite all countries of the region, pending the establishment of the zone, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. It would also invite the nuclear-weapon States and all other States to render their assistance in the establishment of the zone and at the same time refrain from any action that ran counter to both the letter and spirit of the present text.

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Statements

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ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.5). He said the Assembly had annually adopted the text since 1974, and since 1980 it had done so by consensus. That consensus had emerged over the years, as well as steadfast support for such a zone in various bilateral declarations and multilateral forums. The latest affirmation had been at the sixth NPT Review Conference, which had invited all States, especially in the Middle East, to reaffirm their support for establishing effective and verifiable zones free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and to take practical steps towards that objective.

He said that the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East would greatly contribute to lasting peace and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. That would enhance regional security and build confidence. During the forty-fifth General Assembly session, the Assembly had been asked to undertake a study to facilitate the creation of such a zone. That study had been presented for the consideration of the Committee and had been well received as a balanced approach to attaining that important objective. For more than 21 years, unanimous support of the draft text had testified to the overwhelming support for the creation of such a zone. Nevertheless, that objective had been eluded and no concrete operational measures or serious talks had been held, either formally or informally, among regional parties.

Despite the general frustration over the stagnation of efforts to create the zone, his country had firmly endorsed the related text and continued to be committed to the zone's earliest establishment. The zone was not a post-peace dividend, but an essential confidence-building measure, leading the way to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Peace, security and stability in the Middle East could only be achieved when a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of disputes was attained. An environment favourable to the establishment of the zone should be created. The time now was more than ripe to proceed towards its establishment. For that reason, operative paragraph 10 of the draft resolution had endeavoured, once again, to have the Secretary-General inject impetus into the process.

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