22/10/2001
Press Release
GA/DIS/3207



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).


A draft resolution introduced by the representative of Canada would have the Assembly recall the decision of the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. 


The representative of New Zealand introduced a draft decision on the CTBT by which the Assembly, recalling its resolution of 20 November 2000 -- and noting the forthcoming Conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT to be held


12th Meeting (AM)                                      22 October 2001  


in New York from 11 to 13 November -- would decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its next session.


According to another draft text introduced today by the representative of Mexico, on the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the Assembly, noting with satisfaction that the Treaty is now in force for 32 sovereign States of the region, would welcome the concrete steps taken by some of them during the last years for the consolidation of the regime of military denuclearization established by the Treaty. 


By the terms of a text introduced by the representative of the Sudan on behalf of the Group of African States on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), the Assembly would call upon all countries that had not yet done so to sign the Treaty.  It would also call upon the African States parties to the NPT to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


The Assembly would express grave concern regarding any use of nuclear wastes that would constitute radiological warfare and have grave implications for the national security of all States, under another draft text introduced today by the representative of the Sudan, on behalf of the Group of African States.


The representatives of Burkina Faso and Uruguay spoke in the thematic discussion on the issue of nuclear weapons.


The representative of Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply to a statement made earlier in the general debate.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 23 October, to continue the second stage of its work.


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.


According to a draft decision sponsored by New Zealand on the CTBT (document A/C.1/56/L.10), the Assembly, recalling its resolution of 20 November 2000 and noting the forthcoming Conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT, to be held in New York from 11 to 13 November, would decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its next session.


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.


By the terms of a draft text sponsored by Canada on negotiating a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (document A/C.1/56/L.31), the Assembly would recall the decision of the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a non-discriminatory and verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  It would urge it to agree on a programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on such a treaty.


According to a new resolution sponsored by Mexico convening a United Nations conference to eliminate nuclear dangers (document A/C.1/56.L.16), the Assembly, expressing its concern at the threat to humanity represented by the existence of nuclear weapons, would decide to convene a United nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers in the context of nuclear disarmament not later than 2006 in New York, as a follow-up of the resolve expressed by Member States in the Millennium Declaration. 


It would further decide to establish a preparatory committee open to participation by all States, which will hold no fewer than three sessions, the first session to be held in New York not later than July 2003, the dates of which will be decided at its fifty-seventh session. 


The Assembly would request the Committee to recommend the dates for the holding of the conference at its fifty-eighth session and to make recommendations to the conference on all relevant matters, including a draft agenda, draft rules of procedure and draft final documents and to decide on background documents to be made available in advance. 


According to another draft text sponsored by Mexico, on consolidating the regime established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) (document A/C.1/56/L.17), the Assembly, noting with satisfaction that the Treaty is now in force for 32 sovereign States of the region, would welcome the concrete steps taken by some of them during the last years for the consolidation of the regime of military denuclearization established by the Treaty. 


It would urge the countries of the region that have not yet done so to ratify the amendments to the Treaty approved by the GeneralConference of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean in its resolutions 267 (E-V), 268 (XII) and 290 (E-VII).


By the terms of a text sponsored by the Sudan on behalf of the Group of African States on the African nuclear-weapon-free zone (Treaty of Pelindasa)(document A/C.1/56/L.9), the Assembly would call upon all countries that had not yet done so to sign the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.  It would also call upon the African States parties to the NPT that had not yet done so to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA.


Under another draft resolution sponsored by Sudan on behalf of the Group of African States on the dumping of radioactive wastes (document A/C.1/56/L.33), the Assembly would express grave concern regarding any use of nuclear wastes that would constitute radiological warfare and have grave implications for the national security of all States.  It would call upon all States to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe upon the sovereignty of States.


Also, the Assembly would request the Conference on Disarmament to take into account, in the negotiations for a convention on the prohibition of radiological weapons, radioactive wastes as part of the convention's scope.  It would further ask it to intensify efforts towards an early conclusion of such a convention and to include in its report to the Assembly at its fifty-eighth session, the progress made in those negotiations. 


The Assembly would hope that effective implementation of the IAEA Code of Practice on the International Transboundary Movement of Radioactive Waste would enhance the protection of all States from the dumping of radioactive wastes on their territories.


Statements


MITSURO DONOWAKI (Japan) said that the success of the United Nations Conference on small arms was owed to, among other things, regional efforts, which had culminated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document, the Brasilia declaration and, the Bamako declaration.  He reminded delegations that the third Session of the Preparatory Committee was held in March at the ministerial level, because the Conference itself was regarded as one of the important venues to mobilize political will.  One hundred and forty-two representatives had participated in the July Conference and it would not be fair to point out just one or two of the contributions, because all of the representatives had conveyed their strong determination to combat the problems.


The Conference had been an unprecedented opportunity for the international community to demonstrate its political will, he added.  The creation of a Programme of Action had been possible only because of that will.  The momentum created should not be allowed to dissipate.  The struggle against terrorism should not distract the international community from other pressing issues.  The combat against the illicit trade in small arms was, in fact, closely linked to terrorism.  There was, therefore, a need to vigorously follow up the process initiated in July.


MOUSA NEBIE (Burkina Faso) said that the purpose of the United Nations was to avoid the suffering mankind had known in the First and Second World Wars.  Comprehensive nuclear disarmament, however, remained a distant goal.  If the international community did not avoid a third such war, the world would not survive.  Burkina Faso did not have nuclear weapons, but belonged to the CTBT prohibiting nuclear testing and stood in opposition to the proliferation of all nuclear weapons.  He urged States to participate in the CTBT resolutely and to take measurable steps to move the world closer to the goal of total disarmament.


Strategic balance on the planet could not guarantee international peace and security, he said.  Only trust and fraternity between the citizens of the world could.  Next week, the First Committee would be moving to the adoption of resolutions and two texts on nuclear disarmament would be tabled.  Burkina Faso had sponsored many of those resolutions and called for their implementation as soon as possible.


JOHN BORRIE (New Zealand), introducing the draft decision on the CTBT (document A/C.1/56/L.10), said that the decision to introduce a draft on the CTBT was made in light of an upcoming ministerial Conference facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT from 11 to 13 November.  He wished the conference had not been necessary.  It was deeply disappointing that the CTBT had not entered into force five years after it had been opened for signature.  The CTBT would contribute to international peace and security in unmistakable ways.  By prohibiting tests of nuclear weapons, it would make a significant contribution to stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons and create impetus for the total elimination of those weapons.


FELIIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay), on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile, expressed their views on the CTBT.  With the recent ratification of Uruguay to the CTBT, nuclear tests had been completely banned in the subregion.  At last year's Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), States parties had called for the Treaty's early entry into force.  Hopefully, that would act as an incentive to all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to contribute to the Treaty's operation at the earliest possible date. 


He reaffirmed the Assembly's call, in last year's resolution, urging States to maintain their moratorium on nuclear-weapon tests, pending the entry into force of the Treaty.  The upcoming Conference in November to facilitate its operation was most timely.  Now that the international community had received such "clear and terrible" signs of impending dangers, solidarity among governments and the elimination of rivalries was needed, in order for them to better cope with their common enemies.  Universal application of the CTBT would undoubtedly be an important step towards that goal.  All States that had not yet signed or ratified it should do so as soon as possible.


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.


CHRISTOPHER WESTDAL (Canada) said that the draft resolution he was introducing on the treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or for other nuclear explosive devices (document A/C.1/56/L.31) had a long history and long and complex negotiations lay ahead.


The resolution was strictly procedural, he said.  Canada valued the resolution because it expressed the determination that the international community would conclude a multilateral and internationally and effective verifiable treaty on banning the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  He hoped the resolution would be passed without amendment or vote.


GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico), in introducing the draft resolution on a United Nations Conference on the means to eliminate nuclear dangers (document A/C.1/56/L.16) said that Mexico, long a proponent of a nuclear-weapons free world, had decided to submit a new proposal on the topic of nuclear disarmament.  The idea had come from the Secretary-General’s call for such a Conference in the Millennium Declaration.


There were no reasons to be optimistic about the state of the disarmament regime, he said.  No significant progress had been made and the Conference on Disarmament remained paralyzed.  The proposed draft resolution mentioned in its preamble the threat posed to the world’s people by nuclear weapons and reaffirmed the international community’s resolve to create a world free of nuclear weapons.  It would include references to the Secretary-General’s note on “Reduction of Nuclear Dangers”.


The resolution’s operative paragraphs underlined the importance of the NPT and the Conference on Disarmament.  By operative paragraph three, the Assembly would decide to hold a Conference to identify ways to eliminate nuclear dangers in the context of nuclear disarmament in New York in 2006 at the latest, with a preparatory committee to be convened for the first time in July 2003, at the latest.


Next, in introducing a draft resolution on consolidation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco,(document A/C.1/56/L.17), he said that consolidation of a regime prohibiting nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean was a priority for the region’s governments.  The draft resolution’s operative paragraphs would outline concrete steps to be taken to consolidate the region’s disarmament regime and include in the provisional programme the major themes of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.


TARIG ALI BAKHIT (Sudan) introduced the draft resolution on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) (document A/C.1/56/L.9).  The countries of Africa had attributed special importance to the zone, whose goals were reasserted in April 1996 by the Security Council, which welcomed the Treaty's signing as a means strengthening international peace and security. 


He said that the present text appealed to African States that had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do so, to enable it to enter into force.  It also encouraged them to sign agreements with the IAEA.  The text also considered that the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, could strengthen security in Africa and the viability of the African nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The draft text also asked the countries covered by Protocol III of the Treaty to take all necessary measures to ensure the speedy application of the Treaty to territories for which they were internationally responsible.


Next, he introduced the draft resolution on the prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes (document A/C.1/56/L.33), which warned of the harmful effects of such dumping and its potential to support radioactive war.  Africa had attributed special importance to that matter through the adoption of several resolutions in the Council of African Ministers, aimed at banning such dumping in Africa and controlling its transport across borders.  The text asked all States to adopt measures to prevent the dumping of radioactive waste, which could harm national sovereignty. 


SEIICHIRO NOBURO (Japan), speaking in right of reply, said that the statement made by the representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in general debate on 17 October did not deserve his response, because it was totally based on unfounded or distorted information.  For the sake of the record, however, he would explain the position of his delegation concerning some issues raised by that delegation. 


He said that the allegation made by that delegate that Japan was attempting to become a military power and revive militarism was absurd and entirely unfounded.  Under its constitution, the national security policy of Japan was exclusively defence-oriented, seeking only to maintain effective self-defence capabilities.  In the bilateral context, Japan had been making enormous efforts to normalize its relationships with North Korea as a way of contributing to peace and security in North East Asia, he went on.  Its policy was in no way hostile to the Democratic People’s Republic if Korea.


First, he said, the launch of the H-2A rocket had been carried out in accordance with the principles of the peaceful uses of outer space enshrined in the national laws, and had no military implications whatsoever.  Second, as a matter of course, nuclear energy was used only for peaceful purposes in Japan.  The IAEA full-scope safeguards had been applied to all nuclear facilities and

nuclear materials, including plutonium.  Thus, it was fully understood by the international community that Japan's space and nuclear activities were strictly limited to peaceful purposes.


Third, he continued, the revision of the "Law on the Self-Defense Forces", which was now under deliberation by the Japanese Parliament, did not, in any way, relate to overseas deployment of the Self-Defense Forces.  Its objective was solely for the purpose of ensuring the effective activity of the Self-Defense Forces within Japan. 


As a nation that had experienced the devastation of nuclear bombs, Japan shared the strong desire for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said.  To that end, the Government had continued making diplomatic efforts to achieve steady and step-by-step nuclear disarmament measures.  It was for that reason that Japan had again submitted to the Committee the draft resolution entitled, "The path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons", which he would formally introduce tomorrow.


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