9 October 2001


Press Release

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

4th Meeting (PM)



The recent terrorist attacks against the United States had shown that in the current century -- with security challenges increasingly complicated by the rapid development of science and technology and the steady deepening of economic globalization -- only international cooperation could bring about real security, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told this afternoon, as it heard 13 speakers in its continued general debate.

In the face of that horrendous human tragedy of 11 September, the Chinese representative urged every government to seriously reflect upon its security strategy and priorities.  Establishing a new concept of security based on international cooperation had become a pressing task.  International arms control  and disarmament naturally fit into such a new security concept, governed by a basic legal system.  In the new situation, that international legal system should not be undermined.  Instead, it should be strengthened and improved.

It was the duty of the first Committee to make a major input towards preventing, fighting and eliminating acts of terrorism, the representative of Colombia asserted.  The dimension of the assaults upon the people and Government of the United States had set forth in "stark relief" the alarming possibility that that mass destruction might be repeated anywhere on earth.  Thus, implementation of the conventions on certain convention weapons, and on biological and chemical weapons had acquired particular importance.  Chemical and bacteriological weapons, already in circulation, must not fall into the hands of terrorists.

The representative of Algeria said the world had witnessed a qualitative change in thinking that was leading to a softening of positions and a liberation of initiatives long held hostage.  The path to be traveled in the field of nuclear disarmament -- that "priority of priorities" -- was long and arduous.  Bold action was needed, such as the promotion of a renewed strategic approach ending doctrines of nuclear deterrence and any measures that would jeopardize the climate of détente.  The nuclear Powers should fulfil their commitments to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals, and the Conference on Disarmament must prepare a treaty banning fissile material for arms purposes.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the representative of Myanmar said that the events of 11 September were a wake-up call regarding the threats posed by terrorism, including nuclear terrorism.  The close connection between global terrorism, arms trafficking, and the illegal

4th Meeting (PM)                                       9 October 2001 

movement of deadly materials -- nuclear, chemical, biological and others -- must be addressed.  Regrettably, consensus had been eluded on a verification mechanism to the Convention banning biological weapons.  Concluding a non-discriminatory, legally binding agreement was the only way to strengthen that treaty.

Emphasizing the destruction wrought by small arms and light weapons, the representative of Mali highlighted the pioneering role his country had played in the area of micro-disarmament.  It had initiated a project of recovering light weapons, through which it had financed collective economic activities for the benefit of those persons who had surrendered the arms. Indeed, Mali had called for the free and voluntary disarmament of more than 400 light weapons and thousands of munitions, leading to the consolidation of post-conflict peace.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Peru, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Brazil, Mongolia, Malta, Argentina, and Iran.

The representative of Iraq spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 10 October, to continue its general debate.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms limitation measures.  Questions of global stability and strategic security will also be examined in the context of the recent terrorist attack on the United States. 

Today's debate was expected to focus on a number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. 

The delayed entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will also be examined.  The Treaty -- which outlaws all nuclear tests in all environments -– has still not received the number of ratifications it needs to enter into force.  Thus, the Secretary-General is expected to convene a second Conference to facilitate its entry into force in November, in accordance with the rescheduled general debate of the General Assembly.

Under an unusual provision, the Treaty requires ratification by 44 States listed in an Annex.  Of the 13 pending ratifications critical to its success, 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).

Also in the context of nuclear disarmament, the Committee has before it a report of a group of States that call themselves the New Agenda Coalition.  The coalition is a group of seven countries –- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa –- which introduced a resolution, at the fifty-third General Assembly session, aimed at a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems –- the ABM Treaty -– by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti-ballistic missiles, will also dominate the debate.  The declared intention of the United States to build a national missile defence prompted the introduction and adoption since 1999 of a resolution calling for continued efforts to strengthen and preserve the Treaty.

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 Committee will also consider the consensus adoption of a programme of action at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York from 9 to 20 July.  The outcome document includes guidelines for practical action at all levels to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade.

Discussions will continue on the subject of landmines, in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use:  Protocol II of the Convention on 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 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (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. 

(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3197 issued 5 October). 


KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the tragic events of September 11 were a wake-up call concerning the threats posed by terrorism, including nuclear terrorism.  In upcoming deliberations, the Committee should bear in mind the dangers of international terrorism.  He noted with concern the close connection between international terrorism, arms trafficking, and the illegal movement of nuclear, chemical, biological and other deadly materials.

ASEAN recognized that conditions for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free world existed now, he continued.  Myanmar had initiated resolutions that urged nuclear-weapon States to stop immediately the improvement, development, production, and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.  Those resolutions, co-sponsored by ASEAN nations, urged nuclear-weapon States to deactivate their nuclear weapons and called for the convening of an international conference.  It was encouraging that three nuclear-weapon States had ratified the CTBT, but all States that had not yet ratified it should do so as soon as possible.

In the interest of maintaining world security and stability, ASEAN countries hoped that dialogue among the major powers and concerned States on national missile defence would bring new and constructive approaches.  The need for a comprehensive, balanced and non-discriminatory approach towards the issue of missiles was needed urgently.  Concerns related to missile proliferation were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements. 

ASEAN countries noted with regret the lack of consensus at the twenty-fourth session of the Ad Hoc Group on the draft composite text of the Biological Weapons Convention.  The only sustainable way to strengthen the Convention was through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a non-discriminatory legally-binding agreement.  He hoped that the Programme of Action adopted at the United Nations Conference on small arms would be effectively implemented.  He regretted that the Conference failed to achieve consensus on the strict control over private ownership of arms and the prevention of supplying small arms to non-state groups.

ASEAN countries had established a nuclear-weapon-free zone and would welcome the establishment of similar arrangements, he said.  The continued impasse at the Conference on Disarmament was a cause for dismay.  He hoped the Conference would be expanded and that the applications of Thailand and the Philippines were fully endorsed.  The Conference should also immediately commence negotiations for a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru), said it was not possible to avoid reflection on the significance of the Committee’s work in light of the outrages of 11 September   which demonstrated a complete lack of respect for human life.  His country had also suffered from terrorism -- the loss of more than 25,000 lives and an incalculable amount of damage.  He was certain that the people of the United States would overcome these difficult moments. 

He said Peru had participated in the efforts to take concrete action at United Nations Conference on small arms.  The Programme of Action adopted there was an exceptional opportunity to confront violence and terrorism that knew no bounds and that menaced peoples’ fundamental rights.  His Government was also an enthusiastic participant in the Ottawa Convention and was pleased to announce that it had destroyed 321,368 anti-personnel mines a full year before it was obligated to do so. 

He recalled the fundamental role played by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and said his country had provided the Register with information for the first time in six years.  Placing a limitation on arms and disarmament were the only ways to create a culture that would effectively prevent armed conflicts.  Today’s Latin America was democratic; the only conflicts they had were internal and rooted in the poverty that still burdened the region.  A vital new part of Peru’s foreign policy was to redirect resources from defence expenditures to development.

Latin America had the highest social inequality levels in the world, he said.  How could countries go on spending money on defence in such an atmosphere? he asked.  Border disputes had been resolved and the world’s economy was on the decline.  More resources must be made available for the social and economic development of Latin America’s people.  The region’s deplorably low living standards must be raised.  

CAMILO REYES (Colombia) said he echoed the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group.  The barbarism and the dimension of the acts of international terrorism that occurred in New York City and elsewhere in the United States had made it necessary to strengthen international security.  Although that issue had been dealt with by the Sixth Committee (Legal) and the General Assembly, the First Committee must make a major contribution to eliminating that problem, which today had become the most serious threat to peace and security.  Beyond implementation of the 12 conventions on the issue by all Member States, and along with implementation of the recent Security Council resolution on the subject, the Committee had the duty of making a major input towards preventing, fighting and eliminating terrorist acts. 

He said that the dimension of the assaults upon the people and Government of the United States had set forth in stark relief the alarming possibility that mass destruction might be repeated anywhere on earth.  Thus, implementation of the Conventions on certain conventional weapons, and on biological and chemical weapons, had acquired particular importance.  An appeal must be made for universal accession to those conventions, and to ensuring that chemical and bacteriological weapons already in circulation did not fall into the hands of terrorists.  States that possessed chemical weapons must destroy those weapons and submit detailed plans regarding that destruction. 

Also, new protocols must be adopted in that regard, he added.  He hoped there would be a meeting of the minds with respect to a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.  Progress had not been satisfactory either on those or nuclear weapons.  Not every country had acceded to the NPT or the CTBT -- both fundamental to progress in nuclear disarmament.  It was now, more than ever, crucial for the international community to shoulder its responsibility with regard to those treaties.  The total elimination of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles was the best path towards international peace and security.  So was rejection of dangerous concepts, such as strategic alliances, which had been based upon force or the threat of the use of force.  

Significant strides had been made on the questions of anti-personnel mines and the illicit trafficking in small arms, but there was still a long way to go, he said.  The third Conference of States parties to the Ottawa Convention, held in Managua last month, had shown a marked cutback in both mine exports and the number of countries producing them, as well as a significant increase in the number of mines destroyed and the number of victims.  Still, it was urgent to achieve universality of that Convention. 

The global small arms Conference, over which his country presided, demonstrated a commitment and responsibility by all delegations to prevent, combat and eliminate the illicit traffic.  The Conference had succeeded in drawing the road map and marking the course for States, civil society, and the world community.  The goal was not just to garner the unified political backing of the General Assembly for the action plan, but to develop and implement it in the multilateral arena.  A draft resolution using consensus language from the action plan would be submitted to the Committee.

SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said that concerns about international security had come to occupy the minds of the international community like never before.  In the aftermath of last month’s tragic events, a strong awareness of the need for cooperation had been generated.  A quick look at the developments or lack thereof in disarmament over the past year would confirm there was dire need for such cooperation.

There had been encouraging developments in the past year, he continued.  Among other things, Russia’s ratification of the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty II (START II), adoption of the action plan at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and the Programme of Action adopted at the small arms Conference in July were key developments.  The Conference on Disarmament, however, continued to wrangle on the adoption of a programme of work and on the creation of a subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.  A non-discriminatory, multilateral, and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would strengthen the NPT and facilitate strategic arms reduction.

The Treaty should be preserved to ensure progressive development of the entire disarmament process, he said.  The CTBT had been a centrepiece of the international disarmament and non-proliferation agenda and its entry into force should be considered critical in preventing the development of new types of nuclear warheads.  Bangladesh, along with the Non-Aligned Movement, sought a zero-yield, universal and verifiable test ban treaty in order to realize objectives for nuclear non-proliferation.  He also emphasized the need for universal adherence to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions.

The relative importance of small arms and light weapons had increased greatly with the change in the nature of conflicts, he said.  Illicit manufacture, trafficking, and transfer of small arms was, therefore, a concern that transcended boundaries of national security to impact on regional and international security.  The international community could not falter in making good on commitments made at the United Nations small arms Conference. 

Continuing, he underlined the importance of regional disarmament and the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament, especially the one for Asia and the Pacific.  Confidence-building measures could unblock the process of disarmament at a regional level.  The actions of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific were noted with satisfaction, but the best way for the Centre to aid disarmament issues would be for it to operate in Kathmandu.

FILIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said the fact that the terrorist attacks of 11 September were not perpetrated using weapons on the First Committee’s agenda underscored the importance of efforts to achieve disarmament and non-proliferation.  Citizens were ever more exposed to indiscriminate violence at the hands of terrorists, so the threat posed to them by weapons of mass destruction must be reduced. 

He said efforts must be made to limit access to materials that might be used in weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear materials.  The international community must intensify cooperation to assure strict control over nuclear materials.  There were four things that should be done in that regard:  prevent the uses of nuclear materials for spurious purposes; limit the amount of residual nuclear materials that could become available; explore new technologies to prevent nuclear accidents; and perfect security measures during the transport of nuclear materials.

Nuclear disarmament must be achieved as soon as possible, he continued.  The importance of the multilateral approach to disarmament and the United Nations’ importance to that pursuit must be recognized by all States.  The Conference on Disarmament must be a platform for the constructive discussion of disarmament.  The Treaty of Tlatelolco constituted a legal basis guaranteeing nuclear non-proliferation in the region and provided a measure of security.  The nuclear-weapon-free zones must, however, continue to be expanded, in order to achieve true security.  That could be achieved through multi-, bi- or even unilateral steps. States reluctant to join such regimes must be convinced that the elimination of their own nuclear weapons would be best for their own security.

In the last few months, his Government had ratified both the Ottawa Convention on landmines and the CTBT, he said.  In that cooperative way, the international community could take steps to build an disarmament architecture and a new paradigm of collective security that would safeguard the principles and objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) reiterated his country's condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks and expressed its deep sympathy to the people of the United States.  The new climate suggested better prospects for a disarmament dialogue, which remained at the heart of international peace and security.  The world had witnessed a qualitative change in thinking, which was leading to a softening of positions and a liberation of initiatives long held hostage.  Further, a series of multilateral and bilateral treaties had given impetus and real content to the disarmament process. But, that tangible progress had only partially addressed his concerns.

He said that it could not be forgotten that the path to be traveled in the field of nuclear disarmament had remained "the priority of priorities", and that road was long and arduous.  Bold action would have to be undertaken, such as the promotion of a renewed strategic approach ending doctrines of nuclear deterrence and any measures that would jeopardize the climate of détente.  The commitment made by nuclear-weapon States to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals should be implemented.  Also, the Conference on Disarmament must begin to deal with the preparation of an instrument banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, and preventing an outer space arms race. 

It was disappointing that persistent divergences had prevented the Conference from carrying out its duties, he said.  At the same time, the bilateral approach should not sideline the multilateral approach, but should supplement it.  For example, the ABM Treaty could only consolidate the disarmament process.  It was comforting that nuclear-weapon-free zones had been established under various treaties.  However, the absence of progress concerning the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East was of grave concern.  Attainment of that objective had depended on acceptance of the initiative by Israel, the only country in the region not party to the NPT.  It needed to eliminate its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and, meanwhile, submit its installations to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. 

He said that the call for general and complete disarmament was based on his firm conviction that there was no other alternative to freeing mankind from the threat of its own extinction.  Algeria had proved its commitment to disarmament, once again, by ratifying two Conventions last December:  the Biological Weapons Convention and the Ottawa Convention.  It also intended to ratify the CTBT in the near future.  At the same time, he was pleased with the process that was combating the destabilizing effects of the illicit small arms trade.  The measures formulated at the recent global Conference were as realistic as they were appropriate, and the action programme had his full support.

HU XIAODI (China) said that the terrorist attacks in the United States had clearly shown that in the current century -- when security challenges were increasingly diversified with the rapid development of science and technology and the steady deepening of economic globalization -- only international cooperation could bring about real security.  To establish a new concept of security based on international cooperation had now become a pressing task.  International arms control and disarmament naturally fit into such a new security concept.  In past decades, a basic legal system governing international arms control and disarmament had become part and parcel of the global collective security architecture centred around the United Nations.  In the new situation, that international legal system should not be undermined.  Instead, it should be strengthened and improved.

Any act that detracted from that legal system, he continued, would prove shortsighted and would only add uncertainty and unpredictability to the international security landscape.  In the face of that horrendous human tragedy of the terrorist attacks, every government should seriously reflect upon its own security strategy and priorities.  The bloodshed and the terror had amply demonstrated that a Maginot-type missile defence simply was not the way to counter terrorism.  Such a defence, would only bring to the world a false sense of security, mistrust among nations, and the ensuring detriments to international security.  He called upon the country concerned to heed the appeal of the international community and stop the development and deployment of destabilizing missile defence systems.

He said it was now imperative to strictly abide by and continue to improve the international legal instruments in the field of non-proliferation.  The Chinese deeply regretted the fact that nearly seven years of negotiation had failed to produce a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.  Similarly, he hoped that all countries would sign and ratify the CTBT.  Further, as a delivery means of weapons of mass destruction, missiles had drawn increasingly greater attention.  The only effective way to address missile proliferation was to build a comprehensive and non-discriminatory multilateral mechanism under the leadership of the United Nations.

As a means of pursuing unilateral military supremacy, a strategic concept on the control of space and related long-term plans had been developed, with a view to putting weapons in outer space, he said.  Such moves would lead to grave consequences.  Indeed, the prevention of the weaponization of -- and an arms race in -- outer space had stood out as an urgent and realistic issue.  The international community must act without delay to negotiate and conclude, as soon as possible, a necessary international legal instrument to protect outer space from the threat of war.  The Conference on Disarmament was the best venue.

The countries having the largest and most sophisticated nuclear arsenals should shoulder primary responsibility, in trying to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said.  Progress in nuclear disarmament on their part would create favorable conditions for the medium- and small-sized nuclear-weapon States to join in the process.  He appreciated the expressed intention of the country concerned to reduce its nuclear weapons unilaterally.  Meanwhile, genuine nuclear disarmament must be irreversible and verifiable and should be carried out in a legally binding manner.

The Chinese Government wished to renew its appeal that the five nuclear-weapon States undertake never to be the first to use nuclear weapons against one another, and undertake -- unconditionally and in a legally binding manner -- never to use those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

Further, he hoped all countries, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, would remain loyal to the objective of establishing a world free of nuclear weapons.  They should do so by advancing, rather than impeding, the early entry into force of the CTBT.  Also, negotiations should begin in earnest for:  a fissile material cut-off treaty; security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States banning the first-use and the use of nuclear weapons; and the withdrawal of those weapons stationed on the territory of other countries.  Also, nuclear umbrella policies and nuclear sharing should be abandoned.

Chemical weapons had been used against his country, he said.   Even today, the large quantities of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China still posed a serious threat to the security of its people and their ecological environment.  Though some progress had been made in recent years to dispose of those abandoned weapons, that still fell far short of the expectations of the Chinese people and the requirements of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He hoped, the country concerned would devise a comprehensive and practical destruction programme as soon as possible, in accordance with its Convention obligations, so that the substantive destruction process could begin.

ANTONIO JOSE GUERRERO (Brazil) said that the despicable attacks of September 11 had failed in their attempt to sow fear and paralysis.  They had, however, succeeded in forging a global consensus to deal decisively with terrorism.

In the past year, there had been distressing signs of disinterest in multilateral progress on the part of major players, he continued.  It was morally imperative to translate into deeds all the words of commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation.  He was concerned by the tendency to use unilateral or bilateral approaches to what were essentially universal problems.  The use of shields was not acceptable because the only truly effective defense against weapons of mass destruction was their total elimination.   A safer world would not be full of defence systems; it would not need them.

Much had been said about the possibility of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists since September 11, he said.  He stressed the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, as well as national and international controls over materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction.  The possible use of weapons of mass destruction did not justify the indefinite retention of those weapons, which should be eliminated.  Brazil was ready to work to ensure the universality, verification and full implementation of key treaties relating to weapons of mass destruction, including those outlawing chemical and biological weapons and the NPT. 

He hoped that the Committee would be able to foster a forward-looking approach to pressing issues of disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament, he said.  All States should abide by the commitments to non-proliferation and avoid taking tacit steps that could imply recognition of nuclear-weapon-State status.  The importance of the ABM Treaty to international stability meant States should refrain from activities that could lead to a new arms race or impact negatively on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  The upcoming conference for the entry into force of the CTBT could provide momentum for universal adherence and observance of international moratoria until the CTBT was in force.

He was honoured to chair the work of the Panel of Government Experts on the issue of missiles, which would be dealt with through broad cooperation, he said.  Full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention with a view to eliminating all chemical arsenals, should be seen as an urgent priority by the international community.  Brazil was “deeply disappointed” with the lack of consensus on the draft protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, because threats to security posed by those weapons could no longer be ignored.  Six years of work could not be squandered. 

He welcomed the programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference.  In addition, the recent landmines Conference in Managua had been an opportunity for Brazil to reiterate its commitment to the Ottawa Convention.

JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said that the Committee was conducting its work in unconventional international circumstances, when international peace and security was being threatened by the unprecedented attacks of 11 September.  Those tragic events had highlighted the role that the Committee must play in promoting international peace and security through multilateral disarmament and arms control processes.  He hoped the Committee's deliberations would prove most productive in promoting the goals of general and complete disarmament, as well as the search for a new, viable concept of security.

With regard to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, early entry into force of the CTBT was of paramount importance, he said.  States that had not yet done so, particularly those whose ratification was needed for the Treaty's operation, should sign and/or ratify it as soon as possible and, pending its entry into force, uphold a moratorium on nuclear-weapon-test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.  He hoped the conference facilitating the Treaty's operation, to be held during the forthcoming general debate of the General Assembly, would give the necessary political impetus in that regard. 

He said that, in the absence of an alternative solution, unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty -- so far the cornerstone of global strategic stability -- could adversely affect the overall existing strategic balance with all the ensuing consequences.  His country, therefore, called upon the parties to that Treaty, pending agreement on a mutually acceptable solution, to refrain from any measure that might undermine its spirit.  With respect to strategic arms reductions, Mongolia underlined the importance of the early entry into force of START II and looked forward to further practical steps leading to substantial and meaningful reductions in nuclear arsenals within the START III process. 

Unfortunately, military doctrines of nuclear-weapon States still emphasized nuclear weapons, he said.  He therefore supported the adoption of certain steps as essential safety measures to reduce the risk of unauthorized or miscalculated use of nuclear weapons, among them the de-alerting nuclear weapons, removal of nuclear warheads from delivery vehicles, and joint undertakings by the nuclear-weapon Powers of a pledge not to be the first to use those weapons.  He also underlined the need for legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT.

Today's stark reality proved that there was a growing possibility for non-State actors to acquire nuclear, biological or chemical weapons for terrorism, he said.  Besides the legal instruments prohibiting those weapons' use, it was vitally important today to upgrade the physical protection of nuclear material, combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and other radioactive sources, and enhance the protection and control of nuclear facilities against acts of terrorism and sabotage.  He urged the world community to finalize, as soon as possible, the draft convention against nuclear terrorism and the comprehensive convention on nuclear terrorism, as well as to speed up the entry into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Consolidation of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and the establishment of new ones were important factors for strengthening non-proliferation, as well as regional stability and security.  Mongolia, based on its unique geo-political location, had striven to make its modest contribution to that cause.  He appreciated the recent United Nations effort to organize a meeting last month of independent experts of the nuclear Powers and Mongolia to search for ways and means of strengthening Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status.  Institutionalization of its status would be an important measure towards building confidence and preventing regional non-proliferation.

JULIAN VASSALLO (Malta) said that Malta aligned itself with the comprehensive statement made by Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and associated countries.  His Government had taken two significant steps that expressed its continuing commitment to disarmament:  ratified the CTBT, one of the building blocks of the disarmament edifice; ratified the Ottawa Convention, as well as attended the meeting of States parties to the Convention as a ratifying member for the first time.  He hoped the single-minded purpose the international community had shown in the weeks after the horrific attacks of September 11 could be harnessed to break the stalemate preventing progress on several fronts in the disarmament debate.

LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina), said the recent terrorist attacks were crimes that Argentina, which had also been victim to terrorist acts, repudiated.  All societies in the world were affected by these attacks against freedom, solidarity, and respect for the basic principles of human coexistence.

This threat to international peace and security required a strong response from States, he said.  Security Council resolutions had pointed out the need to intensify and streamline the interchange of operational information between principal actors.  There was need to do the same in relation to the traffic in small arms explosives and dangerous materials, and in order to deal with the threat represented by the potential for weapons of mass destruction to enter into the possession of terrorists.

To guarantee security, he said, the universalization of judicial instruments for non-proliferation and disarmament must be the goal of the international community.  Argentina was determined to build its technical capabilities to meet the requirements spelled out in the Comprehensive Test Bar Treaty.  Ways to guarantee transparency in the transfer of sensitive technologies and common ways to identify dual use material were necessary to prevent the use of such things for violent purposes.

It was regrettable that consensus had not yet been reached on the Biological Weapons Convention, as that represented a lost opportunity to prevent their proliferation.  No State should stand by while attempts were made to complete an agreement on this subject.

He said Argentina was an enthusiastic promoter of confidence-building measures, having benefited from them in the past.  Such measures had greatly improved relations between countries in his region.  The conclusions of the Economic Commission for Latin America on compiling information on defence expenditures were valuable.

He said the United Nations Conference on small arms had marked a turning point in the attitude of States to the illicit trafficking of such weapons.  The programme of action tried to put an end to their illicit transfer by making transfers more transparent.  The Ottawa Conventions had succeeded in realizing the call for the elimination of landmines -- weapons that hurt and killed people years after the end of conflicts.  Argentina had hosted a region-wide seminar on mine destruction last year.  It was hoped that the next review conference on certain conventional arms would strengthen the legal instrument, and make it applicable to all conflicts, whether international or internal.

CHEICKNA KEITA (Mali) reiterated his delegation's solidarity and deep compassion with the United States delegation following the terrorist acts of 11 September.  Those acts had proved, once again, the need to elaborate better international security measures.  Mali had played a pioneer role in the area of micro-disarmament, and would continue to promote such progress.  His country had initiated a project of recovering light weapons, which, in turn, financed collective economic activities for the benefit of those persons who had surrendered them.  Mali had called for the free and voluntary disarmament of more than 400 light weapons and thousands of munitions, which had made a positive impact on consolidating post-conflict peace. 

He noted the recent renewal for three years by the heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of a moratorium on the import, export, and production of light weapons.  That measure had highlighted the Community's determination to contribute effectively to international security, and that should also be applied to all subregions.  He would introduce a draft resolution in the Committee on assistance to States to halt the illicit circulation of light weapons and collect them.  The control and monitoring of the illicit flow of those arms was a task in which the United Nations should play a central role.  Mali would continue to lend its active support to international efforts in that regard.  

Mali attached great importance to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely concluded among the States of the region.  In that respect, the Treaty of Pelindaba had had been a useful instrument.  Similarly, the commitments undertaken at the 2000 NPT Review Conference should be respected.  That action programme was ambitious, but in order to conserve its credibility, the CTBT should be universalized, moratoriums on nuclear-weapon tests should be strictly observed, START II should be concluded, and negotiations on START III and a cut-off treaty on fissile material for nuclear weapons should begin.

HADI NEJAD-HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that the major development in international security was undoubtedly the attack on the United States that had outraged the international community.  His country joined in the condemnation of the acts and joined in international efforts with the United Nations to combat and prevent such horrible acts of violence.  Although it was a very sad moment in history, he hoped that the event would be a milestone producing a positive outcome beneficial to the whole world.  The tragic incident also illustrated that security was indivisible, equally at stake in all parts of the planet, and that the international community was under threat, especially from weapons of mass destruction.

Weapons of mass destruction were the most threatening danger to humanity and civilization, he said.  Nuclear weapons were the most horrible of those and should be dealt with as the highest priority.  The devastation caused by those weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sufficient grounds to prevent use of nuclear weapons and prompt a universal effort to ban them.  Since the International Court of Justice’s decision on nuclear weapons in 1996, no efforts had been made to eliminate nuclear weapons.  The 2000 NPT document provided the most viable way to review the way the NPT had been implemented and understand how its implementation could be secured and strengthened.  He stressed the critical importance of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  It was impeded only by the intransigent policy of Israel not to refrain from developing nuclear weapons.  Israeli policy was the only source of conflict in the region and its nuclear capability had produced no less than terror, as evidenced by the continuing bloodshed of Palestinians in the occupied territories.  The international community should use every opportunity to stop this violence.

Biological weapons, though prohibited under international law, posed a real threat against society, he continued.  Bio-terrorism was not science-fiction anymore.  He was concerned by the lack of universal accession to the Biological Weapons Convention.  The fight against proliferation should focus on the universality of the Convention and its effective implementation.  The recent failure to conclude an additional protocol, due to the position of the United States, had caused international concern.  He hoped that the new situation would encourage the United States to review its position with the aim of concluding the protocol.  The Chemical Weapons Convention also suffered from a lack of universality.  Efforts should be made to guarantee accession of more parties, especially in the Middle East.  Iran had been a victim of those inhumane weapons.  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons needed more resources to protect innocent people from chemical weapons. 

Although weapons of mass destruction were the most threatening overall, small arms and light weapons were as lethal and brutal in civil wars and armed conflicts, he continued.  The international community should be delighted that the United Nations small arms Conference had been a success.  He was disappointed by failure of the Conference to elaborate its position on the domestic circulation of small arms and the very crucial issue of their transfer to non-State actors.  His Government shared the position of the Conference President that those issues needed to be pressed for final agreement in future deliberations.

He also welcomed the establishment of panel of experts to assist the Secretary-General in preparing his report on missiles.  Because norms on missiles could be successful if negotiated multilaterally, the Panel of Experts was the best mechanism to do so.

MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN MOHAMMAD (Iraq), speaking in exercise of right of reply, responded to the statement made yesterday by the Belgian representative on behalf of the European Union.  The representative had referred to the "secret nuclear programme of Iraq".  Iraq had no such programme.  It was a party to the NPT and subject to the full-scope safeguards of the IAEA.

He said that the 1997 and 1998 reports of the IAEA to the Security Council, had stated that, in accordance with all of the information it had available at the moment, the verification activities undertaken by it in Iraq had presented a clear picture of the technical capabilities of the nuclear programme.  Those verification activities, according to the reports, had not shown any proof that the Iraqi programme had achieved the objective of producing nuclear weapons, or that Iraq had produced a few grams of nuclear materiel that could be used in weapons or had secretly obtained such materials.

Also, according to the Agency's reporting, he said, there was no material capability in Iraq to produce nuclear weapons.  In February 1999, the IAEA had removed from Iraq all of the nuclear material that could be used in weapons, most importantly the fuel for nuclear installations that could be used for peaceful purposes.  The contents of those reports raised questions about what was discussed in the Committee yesterday.  At the same time, for the second year, inspection teams visited Iraq in full cooperation with Iraqi authorities and, as the Director-General had pointed out, the team had been able to verify the nuclear materials under full-scope IAEA safeguards.  That was made clear in a similar report this year.

Concerning the reference made by the representative of Belgium to Security Council resolutions, Iraq had implemented all of its obligations under 678 (1991), which had been noted by some Council members and the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM).  Scott Ritter, chief of one of the inspection teams, stated in an article in "Arms Control Today", dated June 2000, that since the end of 1999, Iraq had been fully disarmed in a manner unprecedented in history, but UNSCOM and the Security Council had not been capable, or, in some cases had not wanted, to recognize that fact.

On behalf of his delegation, he called on the Chairman to consider the matter objectively and to consider the matter in a fair manner, despite different political viewpoints.  "We should not disregard the full cooperation provided by Iraq in this matter, and we are ready to clarify this for any delegations that require it," he said.

                                    * *** *

For information media. Not an official record.