DISARMAMENT PROGRESS CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBAL EFFORT AGAINST TERRORISM STATES DRAFT TEXT INTRODUCED BY CHAIRMAN IN FIRST COMMITTEE

23 October 2001
GA/DIS/3208

DISARMAMENT PROGRESS CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBAL EFFORT AGAINST TERRORISM STATES DRAFT TEXT INTRODUCED BY CHAIRMAN IN FIRST COMMITTEE

23/10/2001
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3208

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

13th Meeting (AM)

DISARMAMENT PROGRESS CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBAL EFFORT AGAINST TERRORISM

STATES DRAFT TEXT INTRODUCED BY CHAIRMAN IN FIRST COMMITTEE

Thirteen Drafts Introduced, Including Resolutions

On Preserving ABM Treaty, Totally Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

The Chairman of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning submitted a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would emphasize that progress towards the achievement of disarmament and non-proliferation objectives was urgently essential to maintaining peace and security and would contribute to global efforts against terrorism.

Introducing one of 11 draft resolutions and 2 decisions tabled today, André Erdos (Hungary) said that adopting a resolution on the fight against terrorism in the area of the Committee's competence seemed of utmost importance.  If he failed in his attempt to reach consensus, however, he would withdraw the text.

The Russian Federation’s representative introduced a draft resolution on preserving and complying with the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), saying that, in light of continuing talks between Russia and the United States, the utmost care should be exercised with regard to both the ABM Treaty and the international legal architecture in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Erosion of that architecture would lead to a "legal vacuum and strategic chaos".  The text was sponsored by Belarus, China, and the Russian Federation.

Draft texts on the following issues were also introduced:  reducing nuclear danger; a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; a convention on nuclear weapons; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States; 2005 review of the Treaty on the

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice follow-up; new agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; and the report of the Conference on Disarmament.

The draft resolution introduced by Japan entitled, "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons", would have the Assembly call upon all States to maintain the highest possible standards of security, safe custody, effective control and physical protection of all materials that could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in order to, among others, prevent those materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.  The draft outlines several "practical steps" for "systematic and progressive" efforts

towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, including further deep reductions by Russia and the United States in their strategic offensive arsenals.

According to a text introduced by the representative of India, the Assembly, convinced that nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons was essential for removing the danger of nuclear war, would call for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons.

A second text introduced by that representative would have the Assembly reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, and to report to it on the results of those negotiations.

By the terms of a draft introduced by the representative of Malaysia, the Assembly would underline, once again, the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective control.

Turning to the situation in the Middle East, the representative of Egypt introduced a text by which the Assembly would call upon Israel to accede to the NPT without delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.  Israel would also be called upon to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region, and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

The representative of Pakistan introduced a draft on concluding security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, which would have the Assembly reaffirm the urgent need to reach an early agreement on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

A draft decision introduced by the representative of South Africa entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world:  the need for a new agenda", would have the Assembly decide to include the item in the agenda of its next session.

Under a draft resolution introduced by the representative of Brazil on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere, the Assembly would call upon all States to support the process of nuclear disarmament and work for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons.  It would also call upon them to consider all relevant proposals, including those reflected in its resolutions on the establishment of such zones in the Middle East and South Asia.

A draft decision sponsored by Uzbekistan on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia would have the Assembly decide to include that item in the provisional agenda of its next session.   

By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by Ecuador on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international

community and urge it to fulfil that role in light of the evolving international situation.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Algeria on the 2005 NPT review process, the Assembly would take note of the decision of the parties to the Treaty, following appropriate consultations, to hold the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee in New York from 8 to 19 April 2002.

Representatives of the following States made general comments:

Australia, Belarus, China, Oman, Uruguay, Cuba, Jordan, and Finland.

The representatives of Israel and Egypt spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 24 October, to continue the second phase of its work.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on all disarmament and security items and the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions.  That phase of work will conclude on Tuesday, 30 October.

Introductions of draft texts on the following topics were expected:  global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation; Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty; reducing nuclear danger; a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons; convention on nuclear weapons; new agenda towards a nuclear-weapon-free world; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States; 2005 review of NPT; advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice follow-up; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; and report of the Conference on Disarmament.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Belarus, China, Haiti and the Russian Federation on the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) (document A/C.1/56/L.1), the General Assembly would call for continued efforts to strengthen the Treaty and preserve its integrity and validity, so that it remains a cornerstone in maintaining global strategic stability.  It would also call for renewed efforts by each of the States parties to preserve and strengthen the Treaty through full and strict compliance.

Further, the Assembly would call upon parties to the Treaty, in accordance with their Treaty obligations, to limit the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems, refrain from the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems for the defence of the territory of their country, not provide a base for such defence and not to transfer to other States or deploy outside their national territory anti-ballistic missile systems or their components limited by the Treaty.

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would urge all Member States to support efforts aimed at stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  It would support further efforts by the international community, in light of emerging developments, towards safeguarding the inviolability and integrity of the Treaty, which is in the strongest interest of the international community.

According to a draft text on a convention banning the use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.12), the Assembly, convinced that the use of those weapons poses the most serious threat to the survival of mankind, would reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations in order to reach agreement on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.  It would also request the Conference to report to the Assembly on the results of those negotiations.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Sudan and Viet Nam.

The draft resolution entitled "Reducing nuclear danger" (document A/C.1/56/L.14) would have the Assembly, convinced that nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons are essential to remove the danger of nuclear war, call for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons.  It would request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures towards the implementation of that provision.

Under a related term, the Assembly would call upon Member States to take the necessary measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to promote nuclear disarmament, with the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.

The Assembly would also take note of the 2001 report of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, in particular the seven recommendations highlighted for further action.  In that connection, it would request the Secretary-General to take steps for the implementation of the seven recommendations, which would significantly reduce the risk of nuclear war, including the proposal contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration for convening an international conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers, and to report thereon to the Assembly at its next session.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Bhutan, Cambodia, Colombia, Fiji, India, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia and Sudan.

According to a text on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (document A/C.1/56/L.24), the Assembly, convinced of the important role of nuclear-weapon-free zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and in extending the areas of the world that are nuclear-weapon-free, and with particular reference to the responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon States, would call upon all States to support the process of nuclear disarmament and work for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons.

It would welcome the steps taken to conclude further nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned and call upon all States to consider all relevant proposals, including those reflected in its resolutions on the establishment of such zones in the Middle East and South Asia.

In a related provision, the Assembly would call upon the States parties and signatories to the existing nuclear-weapon-free zone Treaties, in order to pursue the common goals those envisaged and promote the nuclear-weapon-free status of the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas, to explore and implement further ways and means of cooperation among themselves and their treaty agencies. 

The draft resolution is sponsored by Angola, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25) the Assembly would call upon Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) without delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.  It would also call upon Israel to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region, and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

The Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel's accession to the NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards, in realizing the goal of universal adherence to the Treaty in the Middle East.  It would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its next session on the implementation of the present resolution.

A draft text on concluding security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States (document A/C.1/56/L.26) would have the Assembly reaffirm the urgent need to reach an early agreement on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

It would appeal to all States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to work actively towards an early agreement on a common approach, and, in particular, on a common formula that could be included in an international instrument of a legally binding character.

In a related provision, the Assembly would recommend that further intensive efforts be devoted to the search for such a common approach or formula and that the various alternative approaches, including, in particular, those in the Conference on Disarmament, be further explored in order to overcome the difficulties.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.

A draft resolution introduced by Japan entitled, "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons" (document A/C.1/56/L.35), would have the Assembly call upon all States to maintain the highest possible standards of security, safe custody, effective control and physical protection of all materials that could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in order to, among others, prevent those materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

The draft outlines several "practical steps" for "systematic and progressive" efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, including further deep reductions by Russia and the United States in their strategic offensive arsenals and steps by all nuclear-weapon States leading to nuclear disarmament.

By the terms of a draft resolution sponsored by Ecuador on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/56/L.36) the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Conference as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.  It would urge it to fulfil that role in light of the evolving international situation, with a view to making early substantive progress on priority items on its agenda.

The Assembly would welcome the strong collective interest of the Conference in commencing substantive work as soon a possible during 2002 and its decision to request the current President to conduct appropriate consultations jointly with the incoming President during the inter-sessional period to try to achieve that goal.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Algeria on the 2005 NPT review (document A/C.1/56/L.38), the Assembly would take note of the decision of the parties to the Treaty, following appropriate consultations, to hold the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee in New York from 8 to 19 April 2002, and request the Secretary-General to render the necessary assistance.

A draft decision sponsored by Uzbekistan on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia (document A/C.1/56/L.48) would have the Assembly decide to include that item in the provisional agenda of its next session.

Under a new draft resolution submitted by the Committee Chairman, entitled "Global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation" (document A/C.1/56/L.49), the Assembly, determined to build a common response to global threats in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, would emphasize that progress towards the achievement of disarmament and non-proliferation objectives was urgently essential to maintaining peace and security and contributed to global efforts against terrorism.

The Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as an enduring principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope.  It would call upon Member States to renew their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

A draft decision sponsored by South Africa entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world:  the need for a new agenda" (document A/C.1/56/L.15) would have the Assembly decide to include the item in the agenda of its next session.

Introduction of Drafts

SEIICHIRO NOBORU (Japan) said he had tabled the draft resolution on a path to the elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.35) since 1994, and it had been adopted with overwhelming support.  Last year, in light of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, language had been added reflecting the importance of implementing its outcome.  Because of the negative trends in nuclear disarmament, he had, once again, decided to submit the text in the hope that it would receive broad support and provide a solid foundation for the future of nuclear disarmament.  Indeed, the draft was a manifestation of the genuine wish of Japan’s people to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world at the earliest possible date.

He said he wished to highlight some salient points of the text.  It had continued to fully endorse the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, despite current uncertainties surrounding strategic stability, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  It had stressed the central importance of the Document's implementation and had added the phrase "unequivocal undertaking" in the operative portion of the text.  That had already been agreed at the Review Conference, and because of its fundamental importance, that could be better stressed in the operative portion of the text.  He hoped its inclusion would have a positive impact on the 2005 Review Conference, beginning with the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee next spring.

Overall, he said, the resolution recognized the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), despite the sluggish situation impeding its entry into force.  It had also called for continued moratoriums on nuclear-weapon-test explosions, pending the Treaty's early entry into force.  In addition, it called for a reduction of nuclear arsenals by the Russian Federation and the United States, and stressed the importance of dealing with the nuclear disarmament issue in the Conference on Disarmament as early as 2002.  Bearing in mind the terrorist attacks on 11 September and the recent events involving anthrax, the resolution, in operative paragraph 10, called upon all States to maintain the highest standards of security of all materials that could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) introduced a resolution on a nuclear weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (A/C.1/56/L.24), said that it was the sixth consecutive year that a draft resolution on the issue had been introduced for the consideration of the First Committee.  New Zealand joined Brazil in initiating the draft resolution, which gained 159 votes in its favour last year in the General Assembly.  He hoped that the draft resolution he was introducing would enjoy the same sort of support.

This year’s draft resolution had no changes, except updates, he said.  The maintenance of the same language was yet another reassurance that the text of the resolution would not be disconnected from reality.  One of the most significant developments in nuclear disarmament during the last decade was the fact that the nuclear option had been ruled out in several parts of the world.  The goal of eliminating nuclear weapons was reinforced by extending —- through new nuclear weapon-free zones -— the geographical space where they were illegal.  Regional

nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, together with the Antarctic Treaty, helped to free the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas around the equator from nuclear weapons.

The draft resolution did not create new legal obligations or contradict any norm of international law applicable to navigation, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he continued.  He called on States that had not yet done so to move towards the ratification of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties and their protocols.

PENNY BURTT (Australia) in commenting on the draft decision on the CTBT introduced by New Zealand yesterday, said that Australia remained strongly committed to nuclear disarmament.  The horrible events of 11 September underlined the value of the efforts to bring about non-proliferation and disarmament.  The strong support for measures that would strengthen the NPT shown in last year’s meeting of the First Committee were welcomed.  As the international community approached the 2005 NPT Review Conference, she hoped an approach similar to the one that had made the 2000 Conference successful would be used to move the agenda forward.

In the draft text introduced yesterday, the paragraphs that underscored the importance of early implementation of NPT were especially welcome, she said.  She hoped the resolution would receive broad support from all States, including the nuclear-weapon States.  The CTBT had already made a significant contribution  by outlawing further testing of nuclear weapons.  She looked forward to working with other States to advance the goals of that important treaty.  Australia was pleased to be associated with New Zealand and Mexico in introducing the draft text.  She hoped that the text would be adopted by consensus.

The fissile material cut-off treaty was extremely important, she said.  Agreement on the issue was extremely broad, but the Conference on Disarmament has not been able to conclude an internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials.  Steps should be taken to expedite the creation of such a treaty.  Australia, she said, would support all efforts that made a useful, practical contribution to the goal of nuclear disarmament

ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L. 25).  The text did not introduce any changes and contained the same language as last year's text, he said.  It reflected the prevailing realities in the Middle East, which underlined the basic fact of the region, namely that Israel remained the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT.  That was stated in the preambular portion of the text.  The text was not "name calling" or singling out anyone, nor was it confrontational in nature.  Rather, that was a clear reflection of the reality, which was stated in a careful and descriptive manner.  Universal adherence to the NPT was a priority not only for the Middle East, but for the world community, as a whole; that would consolidate the edifice of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

He said that the draft text conveyed the concern of the international community over the continued presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation.  The issue was of particular importance and urgency today, since all countries of the region, except Israel, had become parties to the NPT and had accepted comprehensive IAEA safeguards on nuclear activities.  On 19 May 2000, States parties to the NPT took a leading step in recognizing that concern by reiterating the importance of accession to the Treaty in the Middle East, as well as the importance of accession by Israel and the submission of its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The consensus final document was a positive contribution to the non-proliferation endeavours in the region. 

The present draft, for the second year, flowed from that consensus and reflected accepted principles and language adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, he said.  The continuation of such an imbalance and asymmetry in States' commitments in the Middle East could not but aggravate serious security concerns there and undermine regional efforts aimed at establishing confidence-building measures, in particular the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone there.  On behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, he hoped the text would receive overwhelming support for draft.  Last year, in a show of direct support, the text had received an unprecedented 157 votes in favour -- from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere.  He hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

T. P. SEETHARAM (India) introduced the draft resolution calling for a convention on nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.12).  He said that the nature of threats to the security of nations had mutated to take new forms, as had recently been experienced.  The threat of a global nuclear holocaust might have receded, but as long as nuclear weapons continued to be viewed as legitimate currency of power, with certain States claiming the exclusive right to possess them in perpetuity, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, whether by States or non-State actors, had increased.  Moreover, doctrines of first-use of nuclear weapons had been re-validated and reaffirmed by some, who reserved the right to use those weapons even against non-nuclear threats.  At the level of political commitments backed by legally-binding agreements, it was important to reorient nuclear doctrines towards no-first-use and non-use, thus de-legitimizing nuclear weapons globally.

He said that the historic 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice made international humanitarian law applicable to the use of nuclear weapons.  The international community should take decisive steps to de-legitimize nuclear weapons as an essential element in the step-by-step process leading to the elimination of those weapons.  There was, thus, a requirement for a legally-binding instrument prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  As in previous years, the draft underlined that the use of those weapons posed the most serious threat to the survival of mankind and, among other things, expressed the conviction that a multilateral agreement banning the use of nuclear weapons would strengthen international security and contribute to the climate for negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.  It reiterated its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations to reach agreement on a convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Regrettably, due to the inflexible position of certain delegations, the Conference had so far not been able to commence negotiations on that subject.

SERGEI A. ORDZHONIKIDZE (Russian Federation) introduced the draft resolution on the ABM Treaty (document A/C.1/56/L.1) which he said was similar to the one from previous Assembly sessions.  The relevance of its subject he said had not diminished.  Rather, it had increased in light of the current international situation.  In the preambular portion, a reference had been added to the resolution of 20 November 2000.  In addition, operative paragraph 6, relating to the decision of the United States Government not to authorize, at present, the deployment of the missile defence system had been deleted, as that was no longer relevant.  A corresponding amendment had been made to the last operative paragraph.  The introduction of the draft had reflected the principled and consistent position of his country in support of the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of contemporary world order and strategic stability.  The Treaty also continued to effectively play its role as one main pillar of the international legal framework in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

He said that the draft was non-confrontational in nature and based on the wording of the Treaty itself.  It was not intended against any one particular country or anyone's interest.  It was intended to:  ensure continuity of the position of the international community in support of the ABM Treaty; preclude its revision or erosion; prevent the deployment of the Treaty-banned ABM systems; and ensure the Treaty's preservation as it stood, along with full compliance with its provisions.  Although the number of countries party to the ABM Treaty was limited, the Treaty was relevant to the security of practically all States and could not, therefore, be viewed as the private enterprise of its participants.  Indeed, the Treaty had proved its effectiveness and viability.  During the entire period of its operation, the Treaty had ensured a balance of forces and stability in the world and played a decisive role in curbing the arms race. 

Further, he continued, its importance for nuclear disarmament for practically all States had been recognized.  The Treaty had provided a fundamental strategic prerequisite for concluding a number of disarmament agreements and for nuclear disarmament.  The latter had previously been an abstract concept, but had now become a priority task of the international community. Both nuclear disarmament and the fate of the ABM Treaty, in their "deep, organic relationship" -- concerned all the countries of the world, without exceptions.  For the past two years, the international community had adopted the draft in support of the Treaty.  In the final document adopted by consensus at the 2000 NPT Review, the ABM Treaty had been recognized as a key factor in ensuring strategic stability and as a basis for reducing strategic weapons. 

He said that the objective relationship between defensive and offensive weapons was reflected in the preambular of the ABM Treaty, in particular that measures to limit ABM systems would be a "significant" factor in curbing the race in strategic offensive arms.  That relationship was confirmed, once again, in the Joint Statement made by Russia and the United States in Genoa, Italy in July, and it was noted by both nation's Presidents at a joint news conference held in Shanghai, China on 21 October.  Now, the task was to develop the parameters of such reductions and design a reliable and verifiable method to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries.  Another important intention of the parties was also reflected in the Treaty's preamble, namely to achieve, at the earliest possible date, the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to take effective measures towards reductions in strategic arms, nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. 

He said the proposal by his country was well known -- to reach agreement with the United States on the reduction of strategic offensive weapons to the level of 1,500 warheads for each party by 2008, and, possibly, to even lower levels afterwards.  The readiness for such deep reductions had also been repeatedly and publicly confirmed by the current United States Administration.  President Putin had stated in Shanghai that the future should be considered, particularly an adequate response to future challenges.  He was ready to discuss that with his United States partners, provided, of course, that he was given specific parameters for that discussion.  Under those circumstances, the utmost care should be exercised with regard to both the ABM Treaty and the international legal architecture in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  The erosion of that architecture would lead to a "legal vacuum and strategic chaos".  That scenario would serve the purpose of those forces that sought to destabilize the world, including the forces of international terrorism. 

VALENTIN RYBAKOF (Belarus) in commenting on the draft text introduced by Russia on the preservation of and compliance with the ABM Treaty (Document A/C.1/56/L.1) said that on the one hand the international community accepted the number of nuclear States, but on the other hand it had a world where the number of nuclear weapons was gradually declining.  National missile defence systems could start a new arms race and signal once again that the possession of nuclear weapons was the most serious factor in international relations.  That could lead States to develop their own nuclear weapons and result in further horizontal proliferation.

That possibility posed a threat to the existing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, he said.  The important role of the ABM Treaty at the global level must be recognized, because the possible withdrawal of any party to that treaty would threaten prospects for the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.  The ABM Treaty was a cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, because it slowed production of nuclear weapons and obliged States to reduce the numbers of those weapons.  Strict compliance in disarmament would be the basis for further progress in eliminating nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction.  For 30 years, the ABM Treaty had been one of the fundamental treaties for assuring international peace and security and the prevention of a new arms race.

The very important additional agreement signed in 1997 had helped to make the ABM Treaty more viable, he said.  Parties undertook to comply with basic provision of treaties.  A national missile defence programme would mean that all that progress, including the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty I (START I) and START II, would be for naught.  Belarus was, therefore, together with China and Russia, introducing a draft on the preservation of and compliance with the ABM Treaty.  The goal was to strengthen international peace, security, and stability.  He hoped the draft resolution would receive broad support.

HU XIAODI (China), commenting on the text just introduced on the ABM Treaty, said that the Assembly's adoption of that resolution with an overwhelming majority had fully demonstrated the support of the international community for the preservation of the Treaty and its opposition to the development of missile defence systems.  Like the majority of members of the world community, his country believed that preserving the ABM Treaty was of great importance to the maintenance of world peace and security.  The Treaty still remained the cornerstone of global strategic balance and stability.  The treaties on the reduction of nuclear weapons and, indeed, the entire international legal system on disarmament and arms control, of which the ABM Treaty was a basis, had not lost their relevance.  Discarding it and developing missile defense systems would undermine global strategic balance and stability.  It would have far-reaching negative effects on the international disarmament and arms control process, which would not be in anybody's interest.

He said the World now faced diversified security threats.  Each country was entitled to take the necessary measures to maintain its own security.  Meanwhile, it must also be realized that, in today's world, the security of all countries was interrelated.  One country's insecurity could not be based on the security of another.  A country, no matter how strong, would not be able to bring security to itself by practicing unilateralism, against the cooperative spirit of the times.  He hoped every country would heed the appeal of the international community and come to the sensible decision in favour of preserving the ABM Treaty.

RAKEESH SOOD (India) introduced the draft resolution on reducing nuclear danger (document A/C.1/56/L.14).  He said there was no justification, post-cold war, for thousands of nuclear weapons being maintained in a state of hair-trigger alert.  That was creating unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons.  There was a need to save humanity from the catastrophic consequences of such a situation.  His delegation, therefore, had introduced a resolution on reducing nuclear danger, which had received widespread support in the past three years.

The draft had put forth a "modest and practical" proposal calling for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risk of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, he went on.  Many nuclear-weapon States and their allies had opposed the text on the grounds that there were a number of technical aspects involved.  Those technical complexities could be overcome with the necessary political commitment.  Undoubtedly, the elimination of nuclear weapons under a non-discriminatory and multilateral verifiable treaty required complex negotiations, but that was no reason to avoid taking interim steps to reduce the nuclear danger.  The audacity of the recent terrorist acts increased the urgency for implementing the steps contained in the text.

He said that the seven recommendations for reducing nuclear danger, contained in the report of the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters -- such as the de-alerting of nuclear weapons, a review of nuclear doctrines, and the further reduction of tactical nuclear weapons -- were pragmatic and feasible.  He urged all delegations to extend all possible support to the Secretary-General for their implementation.  In order to make the draft resolution as widely acceptable as possible, he had kept it simple and free from references to contentious issues.  It advocated a desirable objective that should receive wide support in the Committee.

MOHAMED AL-HASSAN (Oman) in commenting on a draft resolution the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25) said that his country and the international community were overwhelmed by the broad support for NPT.  The NPT had moved from being a non-proliferation, and to some extent disarmament, treaty to being a cornerstone for nuclear disarmament.  Unfortunately, too many countries remained outside the regime.  Today, the credibility of the treaty itself was at stake.

In the Middle East only one State, Israel, remained outside of the NPT.  That was not acceptable to Oman and should not be accepted by the international community.  Any threat to a region by nuclear weapons was a threat for all regions.  In the Middle East, there was a real threat from nuclear weapons, posed by one State’s refusal to join the NPT and accept IAEA safeguards.  He was quite dismayed that more than a decade had passed without progress in achieving regional peace and security.  The international community and the depository States must assume their responsibility and convince those in the region that had not yet done so to sign the NPT.  That would make all States subject to the rule of law and move the region closer to peace.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) introduced the draft resolution on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.26).  That obligation had arisen from the United Nations Charter, which obligated Member States not to use or threaten to use force.  That obligation had extended to the non-use or non-threat of use of any weapons, including nuclear weapons.  The demand for security assurances had been raised by non-nuclear-weapon States in the 1960s and crystallized in 1968 during the concluding phase of negotiations on the NPT.  The response of the nuclear-weapon States was considered "grossly inadequate" by the non-nuclear-weapon States.  At the first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, agreement was reached for the conclusion of an international instrument that would provide binding and credible negative security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States. 

Continuing, he said that the declaration made by four of the five nuclear-weapon States -- at that first special Assembly session and later at the NPT Review and Extension Conference, and reflected in resolution 984 of the Security Council -- were also considered insufficient, qualified and partial by most of the non-nuclear-weapon States.  At the end of the cold war, there was a general expectation that it would become easier for the nuclear-weapon States to extend negative security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States.  Unfortunately, instead of becoming easier, the situation had become more complex, for several reasons.  With the indefinite extension of the NPT, most nuclear-weapon States had presumed the permanent right to retain nuclear weapons.  The commitment undertaken in article VI of the NPT to complete nuclear disarmament had remained open-ended, even after the commitment was widely welcomed at the last NPT Review Conference in 2000. 

Indeed, he said, new doctrines of the possible use of those weapons had been put forth, involving, for example, the use of nuclear weapons against the use or threat of use of biological or chemical weapons, against terrorism, and the development of "mini-nukes" for actual battlefield use.  The geographical scope for the use of nuclear weapons had also expanded, with the growth of nuclear alliances and the "operationalization" of the provision for nuclear weapons command and control among alliance members.  One major nuclear Power, which had formerly adhered to the principle of non-first use, had now disavowed that principle and adopted the posture of the first-use of nuclear weapons.  Two additional nuclear-armed States had emerged on the world scene, and there was one other presumed nuclear-armed State, whose status and obligations remained unclear. 

Under the circumstances, the conclusion of credible negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States had gained greater urgency, he said.  The co-sponsors of the draft resolution on security assurances had sought to underline and operationalize that sense of urgency.  The text was similar to those adopted at previous sessions and reaffirmed the urgent need to reach early agreement.  Such assurances could constitute a major confidence-building measure in the current tense circumstances.  It could contribute to reducing the nuclear danger, ease the threats, which arose from new doctrines of nuclear use, and facilitate overall negotiations for non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  He urged adoption of the text with the widest possible majority.

SUSANA RIVERO (Uruguay) speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries concerning the draft text on the CTBT (A/C.1/56/L.10), said that she wanted to highlight the importance of protecting the safety of materials when transporting them over the oceans.  MERCOSUR countries had in 1997 issued a declaration on the dumping of nuclear wastes and wished to reiterate the principles of that declaration.  It called for the strengthening of regulations on the transportation of nuclear materials, including the exchange of information on selected routes, preparing for accidents that might happen and preparing to pay damages.

MERCOSUR States were aware that sea routes near shore were continuously used for the transport of nuclear materials, she said.  The attacks of 11 September showed that measures for safe storage and transportation must be improved.  She called for their continuous improvement based on principles of international law and welcomed adoption of GC (45/28) by the IAEA, as it represented major progress on the conceptualization and political elaboration of a policy on the issue.  The last NPT Review Conference had assigned special importance to the transportation of nuclear materials.  The final document of the Disarmament Commission said, in paragraph 17, that nuclear weapon-free zones could bolster international peace and security and promote international cooperation by keeping regions free from the environmental damage due to radioactive waste, and by implementing agreed international measures concerning international transportation of those materials.

ROBERTO BETANCOURT (Ecuador), speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the work done at the session had been difficult.  The Conference had to ask itself, how far had it come and what had it accomplished?  It had not gone very far, having been unable to establish auxiliary bodies to undertake substantive work and failing to diminish its difference in two major areas:  nuclear disarmament; and prevention of an arms race in outer space. 

He said the appointment of three special coordinators to review the agenda of the Conference, look at expanded membership and examine ways to improve procedures would help to untangle procedural issues from substantive problems.  The Conference faced an adverse international climate concerning the issues of an arms race in outer space, plans to create a missile shield, and proposals to modify the ABM Treaty.  There had, however, been some progress.  The Russian Federation had accepted the establishment of a provisional mandate to examine a wider perspective in nuclear disarmament.  The United States had said it would be positively disposed to accept, within the context of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, the creation of two committees, one on nuclear disarmament and the other on exploratory discussions concerning outer space matters.

The coming 2005 review of the NPT would encourage the application of the pertinent decisions of the 2000 NPT Review Conference for the prohibition of the production of fissile materials, he continued.  He could not say what would happen next year in the Conference on Disarmament.  The events of 11 September meant that peace and security should be at forefront of the international agenda.  As a result of the attack, the world was in a new context, which meant that the international community should accept democratically arrived at regional decisions and stress cooperation.  Conference on Disarmament must be strengthened as a multilateral mechanism for international disarmament and security issues.

Despite the “political gridlock” of the last three years, he said, the focus should remain on what should be done.  For that reason, he had introduced a draft resolution the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/56/L.36).  Consensus adoption would allow the Conference to play its important role in the global disarmament process and move it out of paralysis.

BADRIDDIN OBIDOV (Uzbekistan) introduced a draft decision on behalf of the Central Asian States on the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in Central Asia (document A/C.1/56/L.48).  He said Central Asian States consistently took steps to ensure regional peace and security, including the announcement of an initiative to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  The efforts of the United Nations and the its Department of Disarmament Affairs in completing a draft treaty for a nuclear-weapon-free zone were appreciated.  General Assembly resolution 55/33 W of 20 November 2000 had welcomed the desire of the five Central Asian States to create such a zone.  All of that had led them to put forth a draft decision, which he hoped would be adopted by consensus.

OSCAR GONZALES (Cuba), speaking in the general discussion on nuclear disarmament, said that more than 50 years since the use of the atomic bomb the world was still compelled to do away with those weapons.  Still, attempts continued to justify their existence and the expansion of nuclear arsenals.  Now, a new justification was being invented, and almost certainly those inventors would resort to still others.  His country, which had always demanded the total elimination of nuclear weapons, would stand firm in its commitment to, one day, freeing humankind from the danger those weapons posed.  He, therefore, supported and would continue to support any measures designed to wipe those weapons off the face of the earth.  As such, he appreciated the submission of the text calling for a convention banning nuclear weapons and the request that the Conference on Disarmament begin those negotiations.

He said he had acknowledged the importance of reducing the nuclear weapon threat and lessening the risk posed by their accidental use.  Moreover, it was unacceptable that military doctrines, once again, had been "trotted out" contemplating the use of those weapons.  The draft on reducing nuclear dangers contained those concepts and had his support.  The persistent deadlock in negotiations on nuclear disarmament had made it imperative for fresh initiatives to get the process going.  In that spirit, he welcomed the new proposal embodied in the text calling for a United Nations conference to identify ways and means to eliminate the nuclear threat in the context of nuclear disarmament.  Not all the drafts submitted under that subject had the scope and reach of the texts just described.  Co-sponsors should be mindful of the limiting factors.

SAAD MAANDI (Algeria) introduced draft resolution entitled “Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons:  2005 NPT Review Conference” (A/C.1/56/L.38).  He said that the draft was procedural in nature.  The draft resolution was very similar to resolution 41/55 A, which was created for the 2000 NPT treaty, then passed by the General Assembly.  The present text recalled in its preamble resolution 2373 of the General Assembly and noted the provisions of article 8, paragraph 3 regarding the convening of a review conference at 5 year intervals.  It also recalled the decision of the 2000 NPT Review Conference to strengthen review mechanisms.  The next conference would be in 2005, in accordance with those decisions.

Furthermore, he said, the text referred to General Assembly resolution 55/53 B welcoming the final document of the review conference, which said that three preparatory committees should be held prior to the next NPT Review Conference.  The resolution’s operative paragraph called for a preparatory committee to be held from 8 to 19 April 2002 in New York.  He called on all delegations to support the draft.

RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) in commenting on the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (A/C.1/56/L.25) said that the resolution conveys the concerns of States in the region, as well as those of the international community.  That was because the resolution was concerned with unsafeguarded nuclear materials in the Middle East and the regional threat of nuclear weapons.  He hoped the draft resolution -- for a “noble cause” -- would be adopted by consensus.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) introduced a draft resolution on follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality on the threat or use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/56/L.45).  He said that the text was virtually identical to the one adopted by the General Assembly, except for two elements introduced at the end of the sixth and tenth preambular paragraphs.  At the end of sixth paragraph the phrase, “adopted at the 2000 Review Conference of the States Party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”, had been added to underscore the importance of the commitments made last year.

Despite the peace dividends resulting from the end of the cold war, achievements in the field of disarmament had fallen short of expectations.  Progress in nuclear disarmament had been negligible and there had been setbacks in, among other things, weakening of disarmament treaties and a virtual standstill in nuclear disarmament talks.  There was, therefore, a need to stress “the importance of strengthening all existing nuclear-related disarmament, arms control and reduction measures”.

He said his explanation of the resolution’s operative paragraphs would focus on three areas:  the obligation of States to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament under strict international control; the call for States to fulfil that obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations in 2002 leading to early  conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the threat or use of nuclear weapons and calling for their elimination; and deciding to include the issue in the provisional agenda of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly. 

He said the co-sponsors of the draft resolution considered the unanimous decision of the world court on the existence of the obligation to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament under strict international control as a clear basis for follow-up actions.  The draft resolution focused on the disarmament obligations of States.  The co-sponsors felt that the unanimous decision was an important contribution to the development of international law.  While distant, the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons was nevertheless realistic and attainable.

MARKKU REIMAA (Finland), speaking also on behalf of Sweden, took the floor on the topic of non-strategic nuclear weapons.  Through United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, important questions had been discussed, namely how to shape and formulate follow-up to recent declarations on disarmament and how to develop measures for increased transparency.  As stated in the Committee's general debate by the representative of Belgium, on behalf of European Union, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means was a major problem and a matter for concern. 

He noted that next spring the disarmament community would enter preparations for the next Review Conference of the NPT -- that cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime.  That would be a follow-up to steps agreed to in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review.  States parties had agreed to further reductions on non- strategic nuclear weapons based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear disarmament process.  The decision for increased transparency by nuclear-weapon States with regard to nuclear weapons capabilities had also been encouraging, as had agreements pursuant to article VI. 

THOMAS MARKRAM (South Africa) speaking for the New Agenda Initiative, introduced a draft decision entitled  “General and complete disarmament:  towards a nuclear weapons-free world:  the need for a new agenda (A/C.1/56/L.15).  The decision called for the inclusion of the item in the agenda of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly.  He hoped the decision would be adopted by consensus. 

ANDRÉ ERDOS (Hungary) Committee Chairman, introduced a draft resolution on global efforts against terrorism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/C.1/56/L.49).  He said that the resolution, introduced in the wake of 11 September, reaffirmed multilateralism as an enduring principle for negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation.  It emphasized the contribution that progress in disarmament and non-proliferation could make in international peace and security and called all Member States to renew their commitments to multilateral cooperation in those fields.

Since the attacks of 11 September, he said, the world community had demonstrated solidarity in the struggle against terrorism.  The time had come to build upon the consensus registered in one General Assembly and two Security Council resolutions by having a second look at the way multilateral disarmament diplomacy had been developing and by recognizing the significant contribution that the Committee could make to counter-terrorist efforts in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

The United Nations had a unique role in promoting multilateralism -- “to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attainment of these common ends” -- which was a fundamental purpose of the Organization that had been expressed in Article 1 of the Charter.  The Millennium Declaration had underscored that the responsibility for managing threats to international peace and security must be shared among the nations of the world.  There was no common end more important than the survival of humankind and no responsibility more solemn than for the leaders of all nations to work together against the gravest threats to international peace and security, such as terrorism, which transcended national borders.  Multilateralism offered a collective means of addressing the ills of globalization -- what the Secretary-General had called the problems of “uncivil society”.  The resolution, if nothing else, would provide a healthy reminder of our collective interdependence and duty.

The subject matter of the draft resolution, which was not tied to any specific items on the First Committee’s agenda, should be an overarching theme in the Committee’s deliberations.  The resolution was designed to be a message to the outside world that the First Committee was fully aware of its responsibilities.  It should be indicative of the new state of mind, of the new spirit prevailing in the Committee as it faced the unprecedented challenges of the twenty-first century.

Adopting a resolution on the topic of the fight against terrorism in the area of the Committee’s competence -- disarmament and international security -- was of the utmost importance, he said.  He would be working to find a language acceptable to all.  He hoped the text he introduced today would accommodate many viewpoints.  He would make a particular effort to reach consensus, but would withdraw the draft should he fail.  Putting the resolution to a vote, showing division on such an issue, would undermine the reputation of the First Committee, weaken the credibility of the United Nations and call into question the collective resolve needed to combat terrorism.

Right of Reply

ALON BAR (Israel), speaking in right of reply, said that the delegation of Egypt had introduced two resolutions regarding the Middle East.  With regard to the draft for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region (document A/C.1/56/L.5), that text had been adopted by consensus for more than 20 years and Israel would continue to be part of consensus.  Notwithstanding certain reservations regarding the modalities contained in the text, its overall objective was more important to him.

He said that with regard to the second draft presented today, on the "so-called" risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/56/L.25), he categorically rejected both the overall objective and specific working of the text.  It singled out Israel and was the only draft to have taken issue with the sovereign right of a country to adopt a particular position with regard to an international convention.  The text sought to embarrass and pressure Israel.  That one-sided resolution would have absolutely no effect on Israel's position.  It would not compromise on issues of its national security.  If the text had embarrassed anyone, it was its sponsors.  The language might not have changed from last year, but the entire context of international peace and security had changed.

Continuing, he said that a real solution to real problems was needed, not a politically divisive text that undermined confidence and sowed distrust.  He supported non-proliferation and Israel had an impeccable record in that regard.  It had never adopted any policy against the NPT regime and had joined consensus on the text for a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  That objective should be achieved through direct negotiation.  The text on the "risk" had only made attainment of the goal (of a nuclear-weapon-free zone) more remote by ignoring the real proliferation threat in the Middle East, to which his delegation had referred in the general debate.

Arms control and regional security in the Middle East could only be improved by introducing a culture of dialogue and peace, and not by confrontation, he said.  He hoped neighbours in the region would adopt a similar approach and make the "risk" resolution as obsolete as it was unhelpful.  He sought to create a better environment in arms control by showing a flexible spirit, wherever possible.  Support of Committee members for the "risk" resolution was a discouraging reaction to those efforts.  He was patiently awaiting a positive change in that regard.

Mr. KHAIRAT (Egypt) said, referring to his earlier statement, that the resolution was not an embarrassment to the co-sponsors, or to anybody.  It was trying to reflect the present reality in the Middle East, where only one State, Israel, had nuclear power and was not acceding to the NPT or placing its facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The text was not confrontational.  It had included wording unanimously agreed to by the NPT parties, highlighting the importance of accession to it and submitting nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  That was not a discouraging resolution, but an encouraging one, aimed at more security and stability in the region.

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For information media. Not an official record.