09/10/2002
Press Release
GA/DIS/3230



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

8th Meeting (PM)


DIMINISHING ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, WITHDRAWAL FROM KEY AGREEMENTS


WEAKENS WORLD SAFETY, RUSSIAN FEDERATION TELLS FIRST COMMITTEE


The diminishing role of international law and the withdrawal from key agreements assuring strategic stability, would feed terrorism, and weaken world safety, the representative of the Russian Federation warned the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this afternoon during its general debate.


He urged that all nuclear weapons be withdrawn to the territories of the nuclear-weapon States, to which they belonged, as had been done with those of the former Soviet Union.  He cited as a recent major step the signing of the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, by which Russia and the United States agreed to reduce their aggregate number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 over the next 10 years.  For the new Treaty, which Russia would ratify by the end of this year, it would create a special bilateral commission on implementation.


Brazil's representative told the Committee that the supply-side control of key technologies associated with the development of mass destruction weapons and their delivery means would help combat their spread.  Nonetheless, non-proliferation alone was not a solution to common security concerns.  Without effective, verifiable and irreversible progress in disarmament, there could be little, if any, sustainable non-proliferation results.  The continued paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament was an eloquent example of disengagement of key States and lack of political will.


The representative of Iraq defied the media and military organizations to provide even "a single shred of evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.  It would allow the return of United Nations inspectors, but that had been opposed by the United States and the United Kingdom, whose allegations were only preparing the ground for a new military aggression.  Moreover, that was being advanced not to disarm his country, but rather as a means for achieving the expansionist plans of those two countries, which included the control of oil.


Speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the representative of Myanmar reaffirmed his resolve to strive for the elimination of mass destruction weapons.  The ASEAN countries would again co-sponsor a draft resolution urging the nuclear-weapon States to immediately "de-alert" and deactivate their nuclear weapons and to take other concrete measures to further reduce the operational status of their nuclear weapons systems.  It would also


Fifty-seventh General Assembly      - 1a -      Press Release  GA/DIS/3230

First Committee                                                9 October 2002

8th Meeting (PM)


call for the early convening of an international conference on nuclear disarmament.


Also today, the representative of Mexico introduced a new draft resolution entitled “United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education” on behalf of Indonesia, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, and Ukraine, by which the General Assembly would express its appreciation to the Secretary-General for providing Member States with the study .


Statements were also made by the representatives of Yugoslavia, Tunisia, Namibia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Kenya, and Bahrain.


The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 10 October, to continue its general debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security.


During today's debate, a number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements will be under consideration, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  With 187 States parties (India, Israel and Pakistan are not party to that Treaty), the NPT is considered a landmark instrument.  Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.


It was decided at the 1995 Review Conference that the Treaty would continue in force indefinitely.  At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons and, towards that goal, to 13 specific steps.  The United States has repudiated two of those steps –- support for the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which it withdrew from in June 2002, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it signed in 1996, but its Senate failed to ratify in 1999.


On 24 May, the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, by which both sides would reduce the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 by 31 December 2012.  It is significant because it commits two former adversaries with the world's largest nuclear arsenals to reductions of deployed weapons.


The CTBT opened for signature in 1996 and awaits ratification by 13 of

44 States before it can enter into force.  Of those pending, two are nuclear-weapon States -- China and the United States.  The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam.  (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).


Concerns about the accumulation and use of missiles in both their regional and global dimensions will be considered through the United Nations study on missiles, prepared by a panel of governmental experts from 23 countries.  It provides an overview of the current situation in the field of missiles and describes several areas of concern, including missile capability for delivering mass destruction weapons, in particular, nuclear weapons.


The role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will also be discussed.  Among its tasks is verifying, through its inspection system, that States comply with their commitments under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.


The Agency's safeguards system comprises extensive technical measures for independently verifying the correctness and completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities.  Since 1992 -- in the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme -- the Board of Governors of the Agency has adopted or endorsed measures to strengthen the safeguards system.  Under a Model Additional Protocol adopted in 1997 that includes short-notice inspector access to any place on a nuclear site, the IAEA has continued to negotiate Additional Protocols with States to strengthen that system by verifying not only declared nuclear material and activities, but also undeclared material and activities.


Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as:  the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).


The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered.  Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).


The programme of action adopted at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York in July 2001, will also be discussed.


Landmines will be considered in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use: Protocol II of the Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament; and the Ottawa Convention, a total ban agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called "Ottawa process", which entered into force on 1 March 1999.


In addition to the reports before the Committee summarized in the background press release of 27 September (GA/DIS/3222), the Committee now has before it a report of the Secretary-General on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/57/454).  It concerns implementation of General Assembly resolution 56/27 of 29 November 2001, which, among other steps, called upon Israel to accede to the NPT without further delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, as well as to renounce their possession and place all unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards.


The report states that the Secretary-General has not received any additional information since the submission of his last report on the subject (document A/56/425).  Annexed to the present report is a resolution of the IAEA adopted on 20 September, which affirms the urgent need for all States in the Middle East to forthwith accept the application of full-scope Agency safeguards for all their nuclear activities, and calls upon all parties directly concerned in the Middle East to consider seriously taking the practical and appropriate steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone there.


Statements


CELINA ASSUMPÇAO DO VALLE PEREIRA (Brazil) said that security was more dominant in the international agenda than it had been for years.  Given the need for stability and predictability, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were better dealt with multilaterally and in a treaty-based framework.  Internationally negotiated treaties in the disarmament field contributed fundamentally to international peace and security.  It was imperative that States parties fulfilled their commitments fully.  Terrorism threats had highlighted the importance of the total elimination of mass destruction weapons, but any discussion of measures to counter their possible use should not result in any justification of their indefinite retention.


He said that the supply-side control of key technologies associated with the development of those weapons and their means of delivery was an important tool for combating their spread.  Nonetheless, non-proliferation alone was not a solution to common security concerns.  Without effective, verifiable and irreversible progress in disarmament, there could be little, if any, sustainable non-proliferation results.  The continued paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament was an eloquent example of disengagement of key States and lack of political will.  For the fourth consecutive year, it had been impossible to reach consensus on a programme of work.


Brazil attached utmost importance to the preparatory process of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, he said. There were worrying signs about the non-implementation of article VI of that Treaty, which concerned nuclear disarmament. Brazil deplored any renewed rationalization of nuclear doctrines that envisioned using, testing or finding new roles for nuclear weapons.  Reductions in the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads, as described in the Moscow Treaty, was a positive step in the process of nuclear de-escalation between the Russian Federation and the United States.  Nevertheless, those reductions were no substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons.


DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that multilateral action was the only workable response to international terrorism.  In order to be effective, however, such action needed to be reinforced at the regional level.  In that regard, his Government had designated the fight against terrorism, organized crime, and illegal migration as priorities for South-Eastern Europe.  He said that regional stability depended on several factors.  Those included equality between States and their respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Turning to small arms and light weapons, he announced that, in conjunction with the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, a regional clearing house for the elimination of small arms and light weapons had been established in Belgrade.  Its purpose was to regionally harmonize regulations in the production, trade, and stockpiling of small arms.  He expressed satisfaction with Yugoslavia’s voluntary destruction of a large quantity of such weapons.  He added that his Government had been regularly submitting reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.


Reminding delegates that his country was a State party to the NPT, he attached great importance to the issue of non-proliferation, particularly in the realm of weapons of mass destruction.  He hoped that the CTBT would enter into force as soon as possible and stressed that “non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament were the preconditions for long-lasting global stability”.  Before concluding, he urged the United Nations to search for methods to strengthen the non-proliferation process.


ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that now the principal task was to transform the anti-terrorist coalition into an efficient system of security and cooperation, with the United Nations at its centre.  But the diminishing role of international law and the withdrawal from key agreements assuring strategic stability would likely only feed terrorism and weaken the safety of the world community.  His country was committed to strict implementation of its obligations in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and "we second our words with deeds", he emphasized.


He said the Russian Federation had consistently and successfully carried out measures announced within its 1991-1992 unilateral disarmament initiatives with regard to non-strategic weapons.  Through strenuous efforts, all of the weapons of the former Soviet Union had been withdrawn to the territory of Russia and brought under secure control.  He drew attention to the Russian proposal to withdraw all nuclear weapons to the territory of the nuclear-weapon States to which they belonged, to help assure their safety and security.  Another recent major step had been the Moscow Treaty, agreed last May, which bound Russia and the United States to reduce their aggregate number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 by 31 December 2012.


According to its terms, START I would remain in force until 5 December 2009, and could be extended by mutual consent.  [START I refers to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, by which the Russian Federation and the United States agreed to reductions of their respective nuclear arsenals.]  Thus, the strategic nuclear weapons of Russia and the United States would be subjected to double, complementary limitations of both Treaties, at least until the end of that period.


For the new Treaty, which his country would ratify by the end of the year, a special bilateral commission on implementation would be created, he said.  Also, according to the decisions taken at the Moscow Summit in May, devising a system of predictability and confidence-building measures in the anti-missile defence sphere was under way.  That would help redress the situation after the United States' withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.  Further, a mechanism was established to discuss strategic security issues on a regular basis; the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers of Russia and the United States held their first meeting in Washington, D.C., last month.  Russia would create a similar mechanism with France.


Concerning the problem of missile non-proliferation, he said Russia had introduced a draft memorandum of intent that defined further steps in that area.  The memorandum reflected Russia's concept of the global control system for non-proliferation of missiles and missile technologies, which ensured wide and non-discriminatory participation of all concerned States in development of such measures, under United Nations auspices.  Another crucial aspect of the missile non-proliferation issue was to guarantee the legal right of each and every State to the peaceful development of outer space.  At the last Assembly session, he proposed a possible basis for the comprehensive arrangement on the non-deployment of weapons in space.  Before such an arrangement was reached, his Government proposed to declare a moratorium on weapons deployment in outer space.


U MYA THAN (Myanmar), on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), reaffirmed his resolve to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.  States were obligated to pursue in good faith and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.  In that respect, the ASEAN countries would continue to co-sponsor a resolution reaffirming that obligation.  Specifically, the resolution would urge nuclear-weapon States to immediately "de-alert" and deactivate their nuclear weapons and to take other concrete measures to further reduce the operational status of their nuclear-weapon systems.  It would also call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament, to be held as early as possible.  He also welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to the NPT and ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco.


Turning to the issue of missiles, he said there was an urgent need for a comprehensive, balanced, and non-discriminatory approach towards them.  He expressed concern over the recent developments pertaining to the START process and the ABM Treaty.  He noted, however, that the signing of the Moscow Treaty was a step towards reducing the deployed strategic nuclear weapons of the United States and the Russian Federation.  With respect to biological weapons, he regretted that the Fifth Review Conference of the State Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention had been adjourned without any substantive results, and that the ad hoc group could not even adopt a final report of its work.  The only way to strengthen the Convention was through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a non-discriminatory, legally binding agreement.


Turning to small arms, he expressed concern that the United Nations Conference on the issue had failed to agree on two core issues --.the strict control of private ownership of small arms, and preventing supplies of small arms from being used by non-State actors.  Expressing his commitment to nuclear-weapon-free zones, he reminded delegates that one existed in his region. He also welcomed the fact that China had acceded to a protocol of the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty as a nuclear-weapon State.  He expressed satisfaction with the Central Asian States as they moved towards forming their own such zone, and voiced support for Mongolia’s consolidation as a nuclear-free State.  On the Conference on Disarmament, he endorsed Thailand and the Philippines for membership and insisted that establishing an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament should be an urgent priority.


NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that now, more than ever, the world was aware of the need to enhance the role of international law and respect the disarmament treaty regimes.  The international community must promote moderation and tolerance, enshrine a process of dialogue, and reinforce solidarity among various peoples and nations.  Apart from a clash or confrontation, excessive economic and technological imbalances would abet extremism and hatred.  It must be ensured within the United Nations that those mindsets were not inflamed.  The arms race was being carried out at the expense of development, yet despite efforts to relaunch disarmament processes, the CTBT had not yet entered into force and no agreement had been reached on a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.


At the same time, he continued, the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to agree on programme of work.  Given that alarming situation, the non-nuclear-weapon States were entitled to effective assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  A fourth special session devoted to disarmament should be convened, in order to find a way to restart the multilateral disarmament process.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were important regional arrangements.  Israel's obstinate refusal to join the NPT and place its nuclear installations under IAEA safeguards had impeded regional disarmament and the establishment of lasting peace.


Unfortunately, however, the international community was "swooping down" on another country and suspecting it of holding weapons of mass destruction, while Israel had an entire panoply of such weapons, he said.  The international community must take the necessary steps to compel Israel to join the NPT and heed the calls made by United Nations resolutions.  He welcomed the decision for the return of inspectors to Iraq, leading to the lifting of sanctions there.  That would spare the region from further attacks and instability.  Also welcome had been Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT.


GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said he was disappointed that the nuclear-weapon States were not adhering to the 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament, adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. He emphasized that it was important for all Member States to comply with agreed decisions.  With respect to the CTBT, he expressed concern with the slow progress towards the Treaty’s entry into force.  He did, however, congratulate Cuba on its decision to accede to the NPT and ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco.


Turning to landmines, he said that his region had experienced the “horror and devastation caused by these dreadful weapons”.  He, therefore, welcomed the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention.  He also noted that all Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had ratified that treaty.


With respect to small arms, he said that, although the small arms Conference had not been “completely satisfactory”, it had adopted a programme of action and had, therefore, made significant progress.  He added that, despite the urgent need to fight poverty and disease, a lot of money was being spent on the production of small arms.  He, therefore, called for greater transparency.


ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic) associated himself with the statement made by the representative of Myanmar on behalf of ASEAN, whose relentless efforts towards international disarmament had been laudable.  Also welcome had been the unremitting drive by the Non-Aligned Movement towards global disarmament.  The signing of the Moscow Treaty had also been welcome.  Despite that, however, the prospects for achieving complete disarmament remained bleak.  The unjustified stockpiling of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was ongoing, with no sign of slowing down.  Military expenditures had also been rising and some major Powers had spelled out new rationales for the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.


Furthermore, he said, the planet continued to be ravaged by lingering armed conflicts, acts of aggression and terror, and ethnic strife.  That instability had not only retarded development efforts, but could also induce conditions for the threat or use of mass destruction weapons.  In the face of such a dangerous situation, it was vital for the international community to step up its efforts to address the root causes of conflict and cool the existing hot spots around the world.  Primarily, efforts must be pursued for the step-by-step reduction of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Urgent consideration must be given to concluding a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.


Like others, he was concerned about a potential arms race in outer space, especially in light of the termination of the ABM Treaty.  Moreover, the creation of a national missile defence system could promote the development of advanced missile systems and increase the number of nuclear warheads.  It was imperative, therefore, for the Conference on Disarmament to commence substantive work on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  In that context, he appreciated the efforts of some nuclear-weapon-States towards the conclusion of a new agreement to prevent an outer space arms race.  Also, all States parties, especially the nuclear Powers, should fulfil their obligations under the NPT, and those States required for the successful operation of the CTBT should ratify it without delay.


MIGUEL MARIN-BOSCH (Mexico) introduced a new draft resolution entitled “United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education” (document A/C.1/57/L.7) on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, and Ukraine.  By the text, the General Assembly would express its appreciation to the Secretary-General for providing Member States with the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education.  That study was prepared by an “open and transparent” group of experts and contains a series of recommendations for immediate and long-term implementation.


MOHAMMED ALDOURI (Iraq) said the whole world was looking at the United Nations, once again, to see what it could achieve in the area of disarmament, amid huge international developments.  He called for:  implementation of the steps to eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction; a complete end to the nuclear peril; and a reversal of the paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament.  Meanwhile, for more than a decade, Iraq had faced the daily aggression undertaken by two permanent members of the Security Council in clear violation of the United Nations Charter and the relevant Security Council resolutions.  The use of depleted uranium against his country in 1991 had destroyed life and land for generations to come.  In just the first year after the use of that new generation of radioactive weapons, more than 50,000 Iraqi children had died.


He said that his Government had declared last month its acceptance of United Nations inspectors, without condition, to make sure that Iraq was free of any weapon of mass destruction.  Successful talks had been held with the Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the IAEA, concerning the practical measures necessary for the inspectors.  Iraq had not previously expelled the inspectors.  The senior inspector at that time, Richard Butler, withdrew them in December 1998 in accordance with the wishes of United States and the United Kingdom in preparation for their aggression, in which the United States used more than 400 long-range missiles. 


He said the fact that the inspectors were not withdrawn on the basis of a Security Council resolution, but at the request of the United States, which ordered Mr. Butler to do so, meant that the United States had advanced a military attack, without United Nations approval.  Those two States were now trying to impede inspections on the pretext of an inadequate security regime, and they were discussing illegal ways and means to change the national government by force, in a manner that contravened popular will and the United Nations Charter.


In addition, he said, media and military organizations had undertaken a campaign of misinformation, saying that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq affecting peace and security in the Middle East.  He defied them to provide even "a single shred of evidence" about what they declared.  He would circulate a response prepared by his Foreign Ministry addressing Prime Minister Blair's report.  Those allegations were only preparing the ground for new military aggression against Iraq.  Moreover, it was not advanced to disarm Iraq, but rather as a means for achieving the expansionist plans of those two countries in the region, including the control of oil. 


He called upon the international community to undertake its responsibilities, to put an end to such aggression and to lift the unfair siege imposed against Iraq.  While the world today was trying to eradicate all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the Middle East was living with instability because of the Zionist nuclear threat.  That entity had rejected calls to accede to the NPT and subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  Despite that, the Zionist entity continued to stockpile both conventional and unconventional weapons and refused to comply with United Nations and IAEA resolutions.  It had also refused to heed the call for a nuclear-weapon-free zone.


BOB F. JALANG’O (Kenya) referred to the 1998 terrorist attacks in Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the events of 9/11, as proof that unilateralism could no longer guarantee security in any country.  He stressed that until the root causes of terrorism were addressed, no State would be able to enjoy peace and security.  Instead of dealing with poverty, hunger, and human rights violations, however, the world was spending more on defence.


Calling nuclear weapons “the biggest danger to the survival of the human race”, he said that the Moscow Treaty did not necessarily render the world a safer place.  In that context, he called upon the United States and the Russian Federation to move towards the establishment of a nuclear-free world.  He congratulated Cuba’s accession to the NPT and hoped that India, Pakistan, and Israel would follow suit.  Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he regretted that for the fourth year in a row, it had failed to agree on a programme of work and carry out any substantive work.  He noted that the stalemate had been caused by the lack of political will of “some major players”.  He called upon the Conference to refocus and not to waste resources.


He acknowledged that the adoption of the Programme of Action on small arms was a big step towards putting such arms on the international agenda and searching for solutions to the problems they presented.  On behalf of the Member States of the Nairobi Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons, he expressed gratitude for financial, technical and political support and requested continued assistance from the international community in implementing the Programme of Action in his subregion.  Before concluding, he called for strict adherence to arms embargoes imposed upon certain countries at war.


TURKI BIN RASHID AL KHALIFA (Bahrain) said that the reduction of weapons of mass destruction remained a major concern, in view of the deadly threat they posed to the world.  Hopefully, the countries that possessed those weapons would devise serious plans aimed at making the world more secure and stable.  In that context, he welcomed Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT, which was a step towards ridding the world of mass destruction weapons.  A short time ago, the world held its breath as the spectre of war and fear of the use of weapons of mass destruction in South Asia cast its shadow.  Steps taken so far to eliminate those weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, had been "agonizingly" slow.


In the Middle East region, he said, Israel persisted in its refusal to heed the calls to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction.  It was the only State in the region that refused to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The number of weapons of mass destruction possessed by Israel far exceeded its

so-called defensive needs.  Also, Israel employed all sorts of conventional weapons against unarmed civilians, under the pretext of combating what it called 'terrorism' -- which was what many countries in the region called a legitimate struggle against military occupation.


He said he welcomed all efforts made to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Despite the fact that a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention had not been concluded, he hoped that the States party to that Convention would agree on a formula at their upcoming meeting in November.  He also welcomed all steps that could lead to progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations on small arms in 2001.  Particularly welcome had been the regional initiatives aimed at the elimination of the trafficking of those arms, which fanned the flames of war.  In the hope that the world would never be at the mercy of those who had no regard for life, he stressed the importance of studying and addressing the root causes of terrorism.


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