RISK OF UNAUTHORIZED NUCLEAR-WEAPON USE, MIDDLE EAST SECURITY AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN FIRST COMMITTEE’S GENERAL DEBATE

16 October 2001
GA/DIS/3205

RISK OF UNAUTHORIZED NUCLEAR-WEAPON USE, MIDDLE EAST SECURITY AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN FIRST COMMITTEE’S GENERAL DEBATE

16/10/2001
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3205

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

10th Meeting (PM)

RISK OF UNAUTHORIZED NUCLEAR-WEAPON USE, MIDDLE EAST SECURITY

AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN FIRST COMMITTEE’S GENERAL DEBATE

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate this afternoon, with the representative of India warning that thousands of nuclear weapons were maintained in a state of hair-trigger alert, with possible disastrous consequences, and given the audacity and scale of the recent terrorist operations the urgency for action was greater than ever.

He said that India, as a nuclear-weapon State, realized the urgency, pending a total ban on nuclear weapons, for all nuclear-weapon States to take steps to reduce the risk of the accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.  Its voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear-test explosions had met the basic obligation of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  His Government was also committed to building a national consensus that would allow India to subscribe to the Treaty.  It would not stand in the way of the entry into force of the test-ban Treaty.

The representative of Israel called terrorism a "strategic weapon" that had forced the international community to address a "profound and unequivocal" global security challenge.  For Israel, that new global reality had added another complex dimension to an already fragile regional stability.  It had been confronting an intense combination of threats across the spectrum of its national security -- from terror, to increasingly sophisticated conventional arms, to the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles -- which had led to extensive preparation to prevent the exposure and vulnerability of its citizens to imminent and potential dangers. 

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said that many regions had bolstered international peace and security by establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.  That initiative had so far failed in the Middle East, however, because of Israel’s continued possession of nuclear military reactors outside the framework of the control system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Israel had retained its nuclear programme in order to guarantee its military superiority and continue its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, despite international law and the threat that policy posed to peace and security.

Iraq’s representative said the Arab region suffered from a great imbalance in armaments, where the Zionist entity that occupied Palestine possessed all the weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq had suffered the use of depleted uranium shells against it in 1991 by the United States and the United Kingdom, leading to the

death of more than 50,000 children in the first year.  Depleted uranium was a generation of radiological weapon that destroyed lives and the environment, and produced toxic and chemical effects.  In view of the danger of that weapon, negotiations should start in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning its development, production, stockpiling, and use. 

Turning to a central theme of the Committee's debate, the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia today welcomed the intensive consultations between the Russian Federation and the United States on possible adaptation of the global strategic framework to the new circumstances and emerging threats.  Amending or replacing the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) was acceptable only if it made at least a comparably strong and effective contribution to maintaining global security and stability.

Committee Chairman, André Erdös (Hungary), welcomed to the meeting the President of the Conference on Disarmament, Camilo Reyes, as well as a group of disarmament fellows and said that, for the past 20 years, the Disarmament Fellowship Programme has trained several hundred diplomats, who had made significant contributions to the global effort in the cause of disarmament and international security.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Lithuania, Ethiopia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Haiti.  The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 17 October, to conclude 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 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.

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 system 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 have before it the report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/56/27), which covers the annual 2001 session and contains pertinent documents and records.  The Conference met three times in Geneva:  from 22 January to 30 March; from 14 May to 29 June; and from 30 July to 14 September. It adopted the following agenda:  cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament; transparency in armaments; and consideration and adoption of the annual report.

The report recalls that during the annual session, successive Presidents of the Conference conducted intensive consultations with a view to reaching consensus on the programme of work, but that was not agreed and the Conference did not re-establish or establish any mechanism on any of its specific agenda items.  At its meeting on 14 June, it adopted a decision to appoint special coordinators on the review of its agenda, the expansion of its membership and its improved and effective functioning.  These special coordinators will take into account all proposals and views, as well as future initiatives.  The Conference requested that these special coordinators report to it before the end of the 2001 session. 

In other business, the Conference took note of the reports of the special coordinators and agreed that, while priority should be given to pursuing substantive work, the Conference recommended that special coordinators on the issues be reappointed as early as possible in its 2002 session.  It decided that the dates for that session would be:  21 January to 29 March; 13 May to 28 June; 29 July to 13 September.

(For summaries of additional reports and notes before the Committee, see background press release GA/DIS/3197 issued 5 October)

Statements

RAKESH SOOD (India) said that, as a nuclear-weapon State, India remained committed to the goal of global nuclear disarmament.  Thus, it would submit a resolution, as it had done since 1982, calling for a convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.  India's exercise of its nuclear option by conducting a limited series of tests in 1998, and subsequent weaponization, was a decision it was forced to take due to the nuclearization of its region and the failure of existing non-proliferation regimes to deal with it.  The decision was characterized by moderation and voluntary restraint, with a deployment posture defined by the concepts of "minimum nuclear deterrent" and "no-first-use".

He said that there could be no justification, in the post-cold war period, for thousands of nuclear weapons to be maintained in a state of hair-trigger alert with possible disastrous consequences.  Given the recently witnessed audacity and scale of terrorist operations, the urgency for action in that regard was greater than ever.  His resolution, entitled "Reducing Nuclear Danger" would be brought before the Committee for the fourth consecutive year in the hope that it would receive wider support and that speedy action would follow.  India's declaration of a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear test explosions met the basic obligation of the CTBT and his Government was committed to building a national consensus so that it could subscribe to that Treaty.

That was not a simple issue, as developments in other countries had shown, and consensus-building in democracies needed considerable patience and time, he went on.  Meanwhile, his country had made it clear that India would not stand in the way of the entry into force of the CTBT.  It also expected that other countries would adhere to it without conditions.  He was also committed to participating constructively in negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Unfortunately, the Conference on Disarmament was in a "comatose" state.  Five years had passed without any negotiations.  Prolonged discussions limited to procedural issues would weaken genuine multilateralism.

He said that while his country respected the sovereign choice exercised by non-nuclear-weapon States in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, regional approaches underlying such zones did not do justice to the concerns emanating from the global nature of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.  Existing legal instruments were inadequate to deter imminent attempts for the further militarization and weaponization of outer space.  Endeavours in that field should aim to preserve space for the full range of cooperative, peaceful and developmental activities.  Meanwhile, arms limitations and disarmament treaties should be implemented fully and in good faith in order to contribute to stability.

Last year, he recalled, the Committee had recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to missiles, in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner, as a contribution to international peace and security.  There was widespread recognition that "club-based, discriminatory" export control measures had failed to address the issue.  His country wished to see the norms against the proliferation of missiles strengthened through transparent, multilateral agreements on the basis of equal and undiminished security that also ensured that civilian space-related applications were not adversely affected.  The issue of export controls went beyond missiles to a whole range of dual-use technologies, for which a transparent system was urgently needed.

India, like many other countries that had actively participated in negotiations to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, was disappointed at the ad hoc group's inability to conclude its work in time for the fifth Review Conference planned for the end of the year.  He sincerely hoped that the Conference would succeed in maintaining the mandate for strengthening implementation of the Convention.  Concerning the outcome of the small arms Conference, he said it had fallen far short of "breaking the nexus" between small arms proliferation, international terrorism, drug smuggling, organized crime, money laundering, and the "gray markets" that fed that link.  Nevertheless, the modest action programme should be implemented expeditiously and fully, as a first step in a multilateral process.

ABDULAZIZ NASSER R. AL-SHAMSHI (United Arab Emirates) said that international cooperation in the field of disarmament was considerably low and disappointing, whereas military expenditures continued to increase at an alarming rate.  Tests of nuclear weapons continued publicly and covertly, arms smuggling was on the rise and new, more dangerous phenomena, such as international terrorism, drug-trafficking and cross-border organized crime threatened regional and international security.

International military expenditures exceeded $800 billion, even as there had been a noticeable decrease in the levels of official and unofficial development assistance to developing countries, he said.  That reflected a state of danger and rising tension that persisted at the expense of development plans.  The international community was witnessing a race to develop military nuclear reactors and ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.  That ran counter to commitments made at the Millennium Summit and contributed to the failures in current negotiations to achieve the goals of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Nuclear-weapons States were called upon to take their full responsibilities in implementing their obligations, as stipulated in a series of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation treaties, and especially under article 6 of the NPT, he said.  While many regions had bolstered international peace and security by establishing nuclear-weapons-free zones, the Middle East had not yet been able to do so.  That failure was due to Israel’s continued possession of nuclear reactors outside of international controls, in order to guarantee its military superiority over Palestine, despite the threat that posed to international peace and security.

The United Arab Emirates had joined the CTBT, NPT and Chemical Weapons Convention to show its commitment to building a nuclear-weapon-free zone that would be the cornerstone of regional stability, he said.  The international community must pressure Israel to join the NPT and discontinue its financial, technological and scientific aid for the development of dangerous Israeli nuclear installations.  International efforts to establish peace and provide relief to areas destroyed by wars -- such as Palestinian lands, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Somalia -- should be supported.  The establishment of international peace and security was the joint and collective responsibility of the nuclear-weapons States.  To help create an environment free of all threats, nuclear-weapons States must start serious multilateral talks to eliminate their nuclear arsenals and stockpiles.

GEDIMINAS SERKSNYS (Lithuania) said that the beginning of the twenty-first century might be characterized as the time when the world attempted to achieve multilateral progress on the issues of poverty and peace.  The abundance of weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms and small arms meant that they were now in reach of the wrong hands.  The attacks of 11 September had been directed against the values shared by all of humanity -- openness, freedom, tolerance and democracy.  The response to international terrorism must be unified and coordinated and there was much that could be done to prevent future attacks carried out with weapons of mass destruction.

Many of the non-proliferation and disarmament treaties remained uncompleted, he continued.  Technology slipped away from legal and moral guidance and military expenditures were again on the rise.  Lithuania was encouraged, however, that the United States and  the Russian Federation had recently converged views on significantly lower levels of nuclear weapons.  Progress had been made on START I and START II and the dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation should be supported.  The availability of weapons and terrorism with a global reach made the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction obsolete.  The world needed mutually assured peace, which would be helped by reductions in nuclear weapons.  Without universal application of the CTBT, its main objectives would continue to be elusive.

The deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament was perilous while fissile materials continued to pile up, he said.  The Conference on Disarmament needed to be freed from its cold war roots.  The events of 11 September had made the need for a functioning Conference all the more important.  There were other challenges to international peace and security as well.  The Chemical Weapons Convention enforcement regime was perhaps the most complex one, and the challenges of universality, strict application and funding must be confronted.  The Biological Weapons Convention was the weakest link in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  A verification regime for the Biological Weapons Convention could play a useful role, especially in light of the growing fears of bio-terrorism.

Anti-proliferation diplomacy should be accelerated, he said.  The fight against terrorism would have a tremendous impact on all disarmament efforts and small arms were no exceptions.  It was important to follow through on all measures agreed to at the United Nations small arms Conference.  Also needed were measures against the brokering of small arms and an international code of conduct for small arms transfers.  Lithuania had put through stringent small arms control measures with the help of European Union experts.  He hoped efforts on small arms could be as successful as the Ottawa Convention.

ABDUL MEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said that the end of the cold war had not emancipated the international community from the threat to international peace and security, which now included a new type of warfare.  The inhumane terrorist attacks of 11 September meant the international community must confront the challenge of terrorism, with an emphasis on dismantling the various deadly sources that threatened international peace and security.  The international community must pursue an active disarmament agenda to eradicate the lingering fear of weapons of mass destruction.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continued to be a major concern, he said.  Ethiopia would encourage States parties to the NPT, the backbone of the international community’s strategy to eliminate nuclear weapons, to seriously address those issues.  Despite the progress made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, a divergence of views remained between nuclear-weapons States and non-nuclear-weapons States.  The importance of the CTBT was recognized and he hoped an upcoming conference would facilitate its entry into force.  The deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament was a major setback and he urged Member States to overcome obstacles and facilitate its programme of work.

Another crucial aspect of the threat to international peace and security was the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he said.  The United Nations small arms Conference demonstrated the international community’s efforts to combat and eradicate that scourge.  The programme of action agreed to was a significant first step forward and it was now of paramount importance for Members States, their citizens and international and regional organizations to mobilize their resources to facilitate its full implementation.  The eradication of landmines was also an important disarmament activity.  The use of those mines had caused suffering for millions of innocent civilians and had serious social and economic consequences for affected countries.  Mine action was one of Ethiopia’s priorities and he urged the international community to make anti-personnel mines an object of the past.

SRGJAN KERIM (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that there was an absence of coordination in the international agenda between efforts for the maintenance of global peace and security and development as a whole.  That was one of the main reasons for the current unsatisfactory rate of development and the lagging in disarmament and arms control processes.  If that trend persisted, and if the current lack of political will and readiness to move the disarmament process forward continued, the hope that disarmament and arms control could assist in meeting the Millennium Declaration's goal of establishing a just and lasting world peace would diminish.

He said he was deeply concerned at the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  The newly emerging international resolve should be channeled to break the stalemate, thereby meeting the growing need for new arrangements on nuclear disarmament, fissile materials and the prevention of an outer space arms race.  The approach to the Conference's work was suited to the past period of cold war and coexistence, and not to the age of cooperation, integration and globalization.  The Conference should change its methods of work and become universal.  His country also attached great importance to achieving universal adherence to the CTBT and full compliance with the NPT.

Intensive consultations between the Russian Federation and the United States on possible adaptation of the global strategic framework to the new circumstances and emerging threats were welcome, he said.  If the ABM Treaty was amended or replaced, it should be because the new strategic framework could make at least a comparably strong and effective contribution to maintaining global security and stability.  The recent terrorist attacks on the United States also pointed to the urgency of ensuring full implementation of the Conventions on chemical and biological weapons to counter new threats of the possible misuse of those weapons by terrorists.  The first test of such a resolve would be the fifth Review Conference of the States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in November.

He said that the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons within the region of South-Eastern Europe was of particular concern for his country, especially after the 1997 civilian unrest in Albania and the conflict in Kosovo.  Those had posed serious security threats to his country and the border region and adversely affected economic, social and human development.  He urged the countries in the region to take effective measures to combat the small arms problem, including support programmes aimed at the collection and safe destruction of surplus stocks.  He also welcomed regional and international efforts in support of mine clearance, victim assistance, and mine-awareness programmes in affected countries in South-Eastern Europe.

JEREMY N. ISSACHAROFF (Israel) said that terrorism was a strategic weapon that not only attacked the fabric of freedom and democracy, but also undermined the basic assumptions regarding the use of military force and the nature of enemies.  The dynamics of terror had required an entirely new thought process.  Terror did not take issue with people's politics; it assailed their very existence by targeting defenceless civilians as a tool of intimidation and chaos.  The international community must now address a "profound and unequivocal" challenge to global stability. 

The world must adjust its thinking and prepare for every eventuality, for there were none now that could be ignored, he said.  For some countries, such as his own, the new global reality added another complex dimension to a regional stability that had always been "fragile at best".  It was already confronting an intense combination of threats across the spectrum of its national security -- from terror, to increasingly sophisticated conventional arms, to the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.  Those threats had obliged extensive preparation to prevent the exposure and vulnerability of its citizens to imminent and potential dangers. 

Continuing, he said that suicide bombers, cross-border terrorist and rocket attacks and potential missile bombardments of the type it had endured in the Gulf War, had all been directed at civilians.  In terms of appropriate countermeasures, Israel would continue to the necessary steps to ensure its security.  States should also contend with threats, where possible, however, through diplomatic and normative action.  Numerous international conventions, regional agreements, bilateral treaties and even unilateral policies should seek to enhance security between States and reduce tensions.

Effective arms control measures, he said, could only be achieved and sustained in a region where wars, armed conflicts, terror, political hostility, incitement and non-recognition were not features of everyday life.  Accordingly, the political reality in his region mandated a practical step-by-step approach, culminating in a comprehensive peace and the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable zone free of ballistic missiles and of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  That zone should emanate from, and encompass all of, the States of the region, by virtue of free and direct negotiations between them.  It was in that spirit that Israel had joined consensus in the Committee for more than 20 years on the resolution regarding the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Israel had taken certain steps parallel with its efforts to advance the peace process with its Arab neighbours, he said.  That had been done even as threats to Israel were emerging from other countries seeking to develop long-range ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction capabilities, in conjunction with their extreme political hostility and antagonism to Israel.  The use of chemical weapons by countries in the Middle East against civilian populations was a matter of historical record.  In that context, Iraq had yet to comply with all the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.  Indeed, keeping Iraq from reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities would remain a critical strategic factor in the quest for any regional stability in the Middle East.

He said that, in addition, Iran had done nothing to conceal its unconditional hostility towards Israel's existence, or the fact that it was procuring ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and beyond.  Israel had no dispute with the Iranian people and sought no conflict with the Iranian Government.  Iran, for its part, had continued to develop its weapon of mass destruction and missile programmes, assist and encourage the terrorist group Hizbollah's attempts to destabilize Israel's border with Lebanon and actively oppose any attempt to further peace between Israel and its neighbours. 

MOHAMMED MAHMOUD (Iraq) said that the United States and Britain -– in violating the UN Charter and international law -- had imposed the no-fly zone on northern Iraq in 1991 and on southern Iraq in 1992, and later expanded those in 1996.  The purpose was to achieve objectives that had absolutely nothing to do with the relevant Security Council resolution.  Also, since the official ceasefire in Iraq in 1991, there had been five aggressive actions against Iraq:  January 1993; June 1993; September 1996; December 1998; and February 2001.  There had been no authorization by the Security Council for those acts.  That was in addition to the daily aggressive actions by those countries which had been condemned by the international community, including by Security Council members.

Such actions had been aimed at destabilizing Iraq and threatening its territorial integrity and unity, he said.  At the small arms Conference, the United States had rejected to the reference in the programme of action that would limit the trade of small arms and light weapons to States.  That position had opened the door to the transfer of those weapons to non-State actors, such as secessionist and rebel movements.  At a time when everyone was talking about combating terrorism, that State harboured, funded and trained terrorists and in its national legislation called for the change of the political system in another country, for which it had allocated some $97 million.  Was that not terrorism?

Continuing, he said that the United States and Britain had used depleted uranium shells against Iraq in 1991, and depleted shells again in Yugoslavia in 1999.  Depleted uranium was a generation of radiological weapon that destroyed lives and the environment, and produced toxic and chemical effects.  The use of depleted uranium shells against Iraq had greatly increased the incidences of cancer, miscarriages and deformed births, particularly in the southern provinces where those weapons had been used.  The use of those weapons had led to the death of more than 50,000 children in the first year, in 1991, and even hit thousands of British and American soldiers, in what had been called "the Gulf syndrome".  In view of the danger of that weapon, negotiations should start in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty to ban its development, production, stockpiling, and use.

Unlike what had been said by a previous speaker, Iraq, he said, had implemented its commitments under section C of Security Council resolution 687, and most countries, including three permanent members of the Council, had acknowledged that.  It had also implemented paragraphs 8 to 13, relating to disarmament, which had been acknowledged by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and many of the former inspectors of the now defunct Special Commission. Iraq would not accept anything less than the lifting of the unjust blockade imposed upon it and implementation of paragraph 14 of that resolution, which referred to the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.  Any proposal or tendency that did not include the implementation of paragraph 14 and did not force the Zionist entity and others to do so, would not be accepted by Iraq.

The Arab region suffered from a great imbalance in armaments, where the Zionist entity that occupied Palestine possessed all the weapons of mass destruction.  That entity was developing those weapons with the support and cooperation of the United States and other countries in violation of their commitments under the NPT.  That racist entity was "number 6" among those that possessed nuclear weapons.  That fact was coupled with its expansionist policy at the expense of Arab land in Lebanon and Syria and its continued aggression against the Palestinians.  Middle East stability required the removal of those weapons and the safeguard of its nuclear facilities by the IAEA.

Turning to the sanctions against Iraq, he said the resulting deaths over 11 years had exceeded the number of all of the victims of weapons of mass destruction in the world.  Was it not strange that the first user of nuclear weapons, against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was the same that was using sanctions as a "weapon of genocide" against Iraq?  Continuation of nuclear weapons and the use of comprehensive and economic sanctions as a "political means of genocide" against peoples was a threat against humanity and would lead to terrible consequences.  The whole of humanity should be put above the narrow interests of one party over another, and work should continue to eradicate all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that acts of violence and aggression, religious and civil strife and interference in States’ internal affairs continued to pose a threat to international peace and security. The attacks of 11 September made the threat of the use of chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction more real.  The international community should work together to bring durable peace and security to all, while avoiding unilateral approaches to security.

In light of the grave danger nuclear weapons posed to all humankind, the importance of the 2000 NPT Review Conference should be stressed, he said.  All States parties, especially the nuclear-weapon States, should fulfil their commitments to find a way to eliminate all nuclear weapons.  He hoped that the upcoming summit between the United States and Russian Federation would lead to the entry into force of START II. 

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic had ratified the CTBT, he said. Although imperfect, the CTBT was an important instrument to aid international efforts towards achieving the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.  To move towards disarmament, all States parties, especially the nuclear-weapons States, should ratify the Treaty as soon as possible.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones contributed to the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as well as to global and regional peace efforts.  The ABM Treaty was a cornerstone of peace and stability and could also be a basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons. 

It was regrettable that the protocol for the verification of the Biological Weapons Convention could not be agreed upon and it was crucial for the upcoming Conference on the topic to achieve results, he said.  Another positive step would be the breaking of the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  The programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference was a good first step and had provided practical measures to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms.  While the Ottawa Convention was also a positive measure, the legitimate right to the use of landmines in self-defence was provided for in the Charter of the United Nations.

BERTRAND FILS-AIMÉ (Haiti) said that the international community could not believe its eyes when it saw the fanatical hatred in the terrorist attacks on 11 September.  The attacks were of the most odious, bestial, monstrous and demonic nature and should be condemned without equivocation.  What would happen if those terrorists laid their hands on the type of weapons that some delegations see as deterrents?

Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were not for deterrence, but to preserve the strategic advantages of some countries, he continued.  In light of the events of 11 September, the international community needed to regain the sense of urgency it had lacked for too long.  What if all international disarmament agreements were not respected?  Multilateral diplomacy was faced with a crisis in the area of disarmament.  The international community must, as Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala has said, take advantage of the extraordinary degree of unity that now prevailed for furtherance of the multilateral disarmament agenda. 

The lack of progress in the field of disarmament was regrettable, he continued.  The CTBT had not yet entered into force and the nuclear-weapon States, in spite of the wishes of the international community, had not yet implemented the 13 steps agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  Haiti had never understood the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. With the disappearance of the cold war, it was imperative to redouble efforts for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the Conference on Disarmament remained at an impasse for the third consecutive year.  Which was tremendously damaging to efforts to create a treaty banning the production of fissile materials.

Unilateral approaches would lead to resentment, sooner or later, he said.  In the new millennium, it was preferable to forge international coalitions or multilateral partnerships and renounce power politics.  It was not imprudent to raise questions about the ABM Treaty in such a context.  Efforts should be made to safeguard that very important Treaty, which was a guarantor of strategic stability.  START II should enter into force and have its provisions implemented as soon as possible.

It was unfortunate that after seven years no consensus could be reached on the verification mechanism for the Biological Weapons Convention, he said.  To better guard the peace, efforts should be made to resolve the problem at the upcoming conference in Geneva.  To reinforce the non-proliferation regime, Haiti had always supported the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  That strategy could also be another step towards the total elimination of the menace posed by nuclear weapons and contribute to a climate of peace.  The programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference was an important point of departure, even though it did not provide resources for implementation, nor have provisions against the transfer of small arms to non-State actors.

Right of Reply

BAEIDI NEJAD (Iran), speaking in the right of reply, said that the Israeli delegation had made false and totally hostile accusations against his country.  That statement, of course, was not beyond our expectations, since Israel -- which suffered from the lack of legitimacy -- now felt very isolated and, rightly, under pressure.  It, therefore, had tried to shift its difficulties to sources beyond its own extremist policies.

He said that Israel had always pursued a policy of terror and intimidation in the region, and had pursued the large-scale development of weapons of mass destruction.  Accordingly, it had developed short-, long- and medium-range missiles to carry weapons of mass destruction to the entire Middle East region and beyond.  Israel, today, had reflected the consensus on General Assembly resolutions, and very recently the 2000 NPT Review Conference, which had asked Israel to renounce nuclear weapons and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  It was continuously developing nuclear weapons, as well as chemical and biological weapons, and had declined to adhere to the two relevant Conventions.

In complete contrast, Iran had adopted a fundamental defence policy based on renouncing weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, he said.  Iran had been among the very few examples in the Middle East, that had been an original party to the NPT, and both conventions on biological and chemical weapons since their inception.  The essential benchmark for increasing and promoting security in the region was the adherence of all parties to all treaties on weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and thus, banning their development and production. 

He said every effort should be made to halt Israelis criminal policy of massacring innocent people in the occupied Territories and targeting the innocents who fought for freedom.  On that issue, an appropriate agenda item would be considered by other Committees of the General Assembly.

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For information media. Not an official record.