Fifty-seventh General Assembly
7th Meeting (PM)
MULTILATERAL DISARMAMENT SETBACKS, MIDDLE EAST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION, NUCLEAR
WASTE TRANSPORT IN CARIBBEAN AMONG ISSUES RAISED IN FIRST COMMITTEE DEBATE
Multilateral disarmament setbacks and calls for resolute determination to reverse them, the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and the threat of nuclear waste accidents in the Caribbean Sea were among the issues discussed this afternoon in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), as it began the second week of its general debate.
The representative of India said that a greater sense of urgency had permeated the disarmament discourse, while in sharp contrast the pace of multilateral efforts had suffered setbacks. Further steps must be taken within the United Nations framework to prevent weapons of mass destruction terrorism. Given the global implications, it was not enough to address that problem behind the closed doors of selective clubs. The call in the Millennium Declaration to eliminate the dangers posed by mass destruction weapons, including through a conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers, could no longer be ignored.
Multilateral mechanisms "raised the bar" against the proliferation of mass destruction weapons by establishing norms and facilitating verification of compliance, the Australian representative asserted. Indeed, the disarmament community must remain resolute in its collective determination to strengthen multilateral mechanisms to meet the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. He applauded efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism and sought fresh attempts to start talks to ban fissile material for nuclear weapons.
The representative of Libya called "alarming" the lack of results in implementing the aims of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, (NPT). The number of countries with nuclear weapons had grown, as had the number of the nuclear warheads they possessed. Their destructive capability could annihilate the world a thousand times over. All commitments under the NPT, as well as the final documents of its review conferences, must be upheld. That included multilateral agreement on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Also regretting the lack of progress towards achieving universality of the NPT in the Middle East the representative of Egypt said it remained a priority for his country, especially since the region had witnessed more violence during the past year than anyone thought possible. The credibility of the non-
7th Meeting (PM) 7 October 2002
proliferation regime in the Middle East and beyond depended, to a significant extent, on future action by the international community and by the Security Council towards realizing their wider objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.
On behalf of the Caribbean Community, the Jamaican representative called for the cessation of shipments of radioactive material passing through the Caribbean Sea. While recognizing the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear material, he called for the establishment of a comprehensive, regulatory framework to promote State responsibility in areas dealing with disclosure, liability, and compensation in the event of accidents during such shipments.
Expressing similar concern over the fate of the Caribbean Sea, the representative of the Dominican Republic said that the transport of nuclear waste constituted a serious threat to security, tourism, marine life, and the environment of the whole region. He cited scientific and academic sources when he pointed out that containers of nuclear waste were often shoddy, there were no appropriate emergency plan to deal with accidents, and there was a lack of sufficient liability rules for cases of damage. He called on the IAEA and International Maritime Organization to put in place safety measures to monitor the transport.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Senegal, Thailand, Lebanon, Venezuela and Gabon. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross also spoke. The representative of Iraq spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 9 October, to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security.
A number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements will be under consideration, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). With 187 States parties (India, Israel and Pakistan are not party to that Treaty), the NPT is considered a landmark instrument. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
It was decided at the 1995 Review Conference that the Treaty would continue in force indefinitely. At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and towards that goal, to 13 specific steps. The United States has repudiated two of those steps –- support for the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which it withdrew from in June 2002, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it signed in 1996, but its Senate failed to ratify in 1999.
On 24 May, the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, by which both sides would reduce the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 by 31 December 2012. It is significant because it commits two former adversaries with the world's largest nuclear arsenals to reductions of deployed weapons.
The CTBT opened for signature in 1996 and awaits ratification by 13 of 44 States before it can enter into force. Of those pending, two are nuclear-weapon States -- China and the United States. The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam. (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).
Concerns about the accumulation and use of missiles in both their regional and global dimensions will be considered through the United Nations study on missiles, prepared by a panel of governmental experts from 23 countries. It provides an overview of the current situation in the field of missiles and describes several areas of concern, including missile capability for delivering mass destruction weapons, in particular nuclear weapons.
The role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will also be discussed. Among its tasks is verifying, through its inspection system, that States comply with their commitments under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.
The Agency's safeguards system comprises extensive technical measures for independently verifying the correctness and completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities. Since 1992 -- in the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme -- the Board of Governors of the Agency has adopted or endorsed measures to strengthen the
safeguards system. Under a Model Additional Protocol adopted in 1997 that includes short-notice inspector access to any place on a nuclear site, the IAEA has continued to negotiate Additional Protocols with States to strengthen that system by verifying not only declared nuclear material and activities, but also undeclared material and activities.
Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).
The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered. Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).
The programme of action adopted at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York in July 2001, will also be discussed.
Landmines will be considered in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use: Protocol II of the Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament; and the Ottawa Convention, a total ban agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called "Ottawa process", which entered into force on 1 March 1999.
(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3222 issued
MICHAEL SMITH (Australia) said the disarmament community must remain resolute in its collective determination to strengthen multilateral mechanisms to meet the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Continuing close engagement by Member States in multilateral processes was of vital importance to promoting security objectives. Multilateral mechanisms "raised the bar" against the proliferation of mass destruction weapons by establishing norms and facilitating verification of compliance. Plus, they complemented plurilateral, regional and national non-proliferation efforts and arrangements.
Aware of Iraq's attempts over many years to circumvent international norms against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said that the international community could not allow those violations to go unchecked. Firm action by the United Nations Security Council was required to rectify that situation. Getting inspectors back into Iraq, backed by a strong Council resolution providing for full and unfettered access to all sites, was just the first step. It must be remembered that the goal remained disarming Iraq of its mass destruction weapons. Apart from addressing the threat to international security posed by Iraq, creating a precedent that tempted other "proliferators" to exploit must be avoided.
He said his country was particularly gratified by the recent announcement by Cuba to accede to the NPT, and urged the three States remaining outside that Treaty to reconsider their position and take steps toward accession. United States-Russian agreement on the Moscow Treaty was a tangible step towards realizing the NPT disarmament objectives. The CTBT was a key element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation framework. He encouraged other members to associate themselves with the Joint Declaration launched in New York last month by Australia, Japan and the Netherlands, which encouraged ongoing support for the development of the CTBT's verification machinery and adherence to the Treaty. It also set out an action plan to expedite entry into force -- a powerful global norm against nuclear testing.
Universal implementation of the IAEA's strengthened safeguards system was another clear nuclear non-proliferation priority, he said. Ratification and implementation of the Additional Protocols would contribute significantly to a climate favourable to further nuclear weapons cuts. He applauded recent efforts by the Agency to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism through work undertaken on the security and physical protection of nuclear material and facilities. At the current critical point in history, the momentum of the IAEA's work must be maintained. He appealed for the legal and technical group considering an amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials work constructively and expeditiously to achieve a consensus text that strengthened the Convention. Further, a fresh attempt should be made to achieve a breakthrough and commence negotiations on a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
JUAN RAMON GONZALEZ (Dominican Republic) said that the principal threat to State security today had little to do with military attacks on sovereignty and territorial integrity. Newer threats were more complex, involved non-State actors, and concerned such issues as drug trafficking, the illicit traffic of arms, terrorism, transnational crime, the transport of nuclear waste, natural disasters, and environmental degradation. He called for nuclear disarmament and voiced support for the NPT and the CTBT. In that regard, he welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to the NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco and was pleased that eight new States had signed or ratified the CTBT.
Of considerable importance to his delegation was the fate of the Caribbean Sea, he said. He expressed concern that the transport of nuclear waste constituted a serious threat to security, tourism, marine life, and the environment of the whole region. He cited scientific and academic sources when he claimed that containers of nuclear waste were often shoddy, there were no appropriate emergency plans to deal with accidents, and there was a lack of sufficient liability rules for cases of damage. He called on the IAEA and International Maritime Organization to put in place safety measures to monitor the transport of radioactive waste.
He also expressed concern over the traffic and possession of small arms. He said that in order to combat such weapons, his government was reinforcing its borders, demanding increased vigilance from its customs agents, educating its population about the dangers of small arms, and attempting to improve the lives of its citizens. Peace did not only entail the absence of war: rather, the idea of peace was interdependent with disarmament, economic and social development, protection of human rights and the environment, strengthening of democratic institutions, and improvement of ordinary citizens’ quality of life through a more equitable distribution of wealth.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said the plague of our era -- terrorism -- had emerged as one of the most serious threats to world peace. The international community did the right thing by adopting measures against that terrible evil, as did the Committee when it adopted a resolution last year condemning terrorism and highlighting the dangerous link among terrorism, illicit arms trafficking and weapons of mass destruction. He regretted the absence of meaningful progress, however, in the realms of arms control and non-proliferation. The countries of the world should take every opportunity to build a world free from the spectre of collective annihilation.
Unfortunately, he said, the 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament, identified at the last NPT Review Conference, had not produced the desired results. The criteria for verification and irreversibility must be strictly observed, and universality of the NPT must remain the highest priority. He welcomed Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT and called upon those States not party to it to join it as soon as possible. In the absence of a reliable multilateral disarmament regime, bilateral arrangements could contribute to the promotion of international security. In that connection, he welcomed the Moscow Treaty and the planned reductions of strategic nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, much remained to be done to banish the nuclear peril once and for all.
Also critical was the early entry into force of the CTBT, he said. He applauded the agreement to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, which should be followed in all parts of the world. Concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention, it was imperative for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to have the funds needed to discharge its verification and inspection functions. Regarding biological weapons, it was urgent to conclude a protocol designed to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. The promotion of international security should also apply to small and light arms, which had devastated so many countries, particularly in Africa. Small-calibre and light weapons were a serious threat to the security of peoples and the stability of States.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) on behalf of the Caribbean Community said that the promotion of disarmament should play a central role in United Nations’ efforts to encourage peace and cooperation among States. The Conference on Disarmament, however, had been unable to even agree upon a programme of work. Compounding the problem was the fact that global military expenditures had been on the rise since 1998. Globalization itself helped the arms industry, since it made export controls more difficult.
Nevertheless, pessimism was not the answer, he continued. What the world needed instead was more perseverance. Jamaica would be doing its part by hosting a regional seminar for Caribbean and Latin American States to help promote universal adherence to the CTBT. He welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to the NPT and ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco. The nuclear powers, however, needed to do more to fulfil their NPT obligations and implement commitments agreed upon at the 2000 Review Conference.
Speaking about small arms, he emphasized that the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on small arms had to be implemented as soon as possible. The illicit trade in small arms was linked to the drug trade, terrorism, and organized crime and it negatively affected security and economic development in the Caribbean. Existing mechanisms to regulate such arms trafficking were inadequate. He welcomed the intentions of the Department of Disarmament Affairs in establishing a small advisory service to assist in the implementation of the programme of action. He also praised the work of the Regional Centre for Disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean, and hoped that it would continue to attract sufficient funding.
He called for the cessation of shipments of radioactive material passing through the Caribbean Sea. In that regard, he supported the conclusions and recommendations of the Sixth Review Conference of the NPT. He recognized the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear material. However, he called for the establishment of a comprehensive, regulatory framework to promote State responsibility in areas dealing with disclosure, liability, and compensation in the event of accidents during such shipments.
AHMED OWN (Libya) said that more than three decades had passed since the entry into force of the NPT and six review conferences had been held, yet the results achieved thus far had been "alarming" and portended catastrophe for all States. The number of countries with nuclear weapons had increased, and the number of nuclear warheads they possessed could annihilate the world a thousand times over. All commitments and undertakings made under that Treaty, as well as the final documents of its review conferences, must be upheld. Multilateral agreement on security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT must be concluded and a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East must be established.
He recommended the following steps towards the reduction of strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons: bilateral and unilateral initiatives; the promotion of confidence-building and transparency measures by nuclear-weapon States; immediate establishment in the Conference on Disarmament of an ad hoc committee to deal with nuclear disarmament; and the resumption, in the Conference, of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The international community, in particular the five major Powers, must bring all pressure to bear on the Israeli entity to accede to the NPT and to place all its military and civilian facilities under the IAEA safeguards regime. It was the only country in the region that had not yet assumed such commitments.
Failure to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, despite persistent calls by the majority of States, made it imperative to consolidate and implement the Final Document of the first such session in 1978. The Fifth Review of the Biological Weapons Convention, held in 2001, had failed to adopt a final declaration. The United States delegation had proposed a termination of the ad hoc group, which had been mandated to negotiate a protocol to strengthen that Convention. That was clear evidence of the lack of political will needed in all spheres of disarmament.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) said that in the field of disarmament, it was essential to reinforce multilateralism. He proposed three methods for making full use of multilateral institutions. First, maintain, if not accelerate, the momentum of multilateral disarmament regimes. In that regard, he welcomed Cuba’s accession to the NPT. He also expressed satisfaction that the IAEA has highlighted the importance of international cooperation in nuclear radiation, transport and waste safety, nuclear verification, and security of materials. Developing countries should have access to technical assistance so that they could ensure greater safety in the development of research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Second, reverse the detrimental trends in some multilateral disarmament regimes brought about by both inaction and unilateral action, he said. He criticized, for example, the failure of the Fifth Review Conference on the Biological Weapons Convention to produce substantive results. Third, it was important to support new initiatives to strengthen multilateral disarmament regimes. In that regard, he called for the early convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.
Although weapons of mass destruction were constantly looming over the world, he cited small arms and light weapons as “the real culprits”. He said that his Government had taken many steps to implement the programme of action of the United Nations Conference on small arms. For example, a coordinating body, led by the National Security Council, had been established to oversee implementation. His Government was also actively participating in the group of governmental experts dedicated to examining the feasibility of an international instrument to trace illicit small arms and light weapons.
RAKESH SOOD (India) said a greater sense of urgency had permeated the disarmament discourse, while, in sharp contrast, the pace of multilateral efforts had suffered setbacks. "If we do not get our act together, we are in danger of engaging in activities 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'", he said. Further steps should be taken within the United Nations framework to prevent weapons of mass destruction terrorism, since that problem was not specific to a particular country or region. Given the global implications, it was not enough to address that problem behind the closed doors of selective clubs. He would introduce a new resolution requesting the Secretary-General to undertake a study on issues related to terrorism and mass destruction weapons, to be completed during the first half of 2003.
The failure of the existing non-proliferation regime could be attributed to its discriminatory nature, which had been extended in perpetuity, he continued. Until unequivocal undertakings for the total elimination of nuclear arsenals were honoured, all nuclear-weapon States must reassure the world that they would reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. There could be no justification for thousands of nuclear weapons to be maintained in a state of hair-trigger alert, with possible disastrous consequences. The call in the Millennium Declaration to eliminate the dangers posed by mass destruction weapons, including through a conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers, could no longer be ignored.
As President-designate to the Conference on Disarmament, India, along with the outgoing President from Hungary, would engage in extensive consultations on the margins of the Committee in an attempt to untie the Gordian knot, he said. The validity of multilateral disarmament negotiations in the sole forum designed for that purpose must be upheld. It should be possible to translate lamentations about the current state of global security issues into a collective effort to breathe life into the Conference, so that it could be put to work for the collective good. He also sought the strengthening of the norms against missile proliferation through transparent, multilateral agreements that did not adversely affect civilian space applications.
He said the anthrax incidents of last year, instead of prompting the world community to act collectively to challenge the threat of biological weapons, had instead led to a rejection of the framework for multilateral action and might threaten the norm that had existed for 30 years. He hoped the resumed Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention could be saved from failure by at least reaching agreement on modest follow-up work in a truly multilateral context. At a time when the threat of those weapons was of great concern, it would be tragic to undermine the norm established by that Convention. Overall, unilateral actions, or those taken by exclusive alliances, did not meet the test of legitimacy and thus weakened international norms.
IBRAHIM ASSAF (Lebanon) said that weapons, instead of promoting security, had become a true threat to the people of the world. Thus, it was the duty of mankind to destroy them. He said that the political will needed by States to destroy weapons could be reinforced through public education about disarmament, provided by the Internet, or through the work of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). He also called for transparency in disarmament to promote confidence between States. An example of such transparency was the United Nations Registry of Conventional Arms. His government was willing to provide information to the registry and demonstrate how its military expenditures had decreased. However, the registry should include nuclear weapons, and not just seven types of conventional arms.
He praised the idea of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Unfortunately, however, in the Middle East, Israel had refused to support the idea of such a zone. Israel had declared that General Assembly resolution 56/21 had not adequately reflected the Israeli position, as if the Israeli position were more important than that of the General Assembly. He reminded delegates that all of the countries in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, had acceded to the NPT.
He also described links between disarmament and development. He said that vast sums of money throughout the world were being devoted to military expenditures. That was unfortunate, given the amount of global poverty. Also, he cited mines as a particularly serious problem, especially in the agricultural regions of southern Lebanon. Those mines -- the result of Israeli occupation, -- interfered with the work of local farmers and thus negatively affected production.
ALAA ISSA (Egypt) welcomed the endeavours of the five Central Asian States to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in their region, as well as Cuba's intention to adhere to the NPT. While Cuba's decision highlighted the critical importance of the NPT as the cornerstone of both nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, the urgent goal of achieving universality of the Treaty remained elusive, both in South Asia and in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament efforts lacked the necessary momentum. The five nuclear-weapon States had a moral and legal responsibility to pursue the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. In that context, Egypt, along with its partners in the New Agenda Coalition, would present a draft resolution addressing the "laxity" that had crept into nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
[The New Agenda 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].
He said he deeply regretted the lack of progress towards achieving the universality of the NPT in the Middle East, an objective that was overwhelmingly supported by the wider international community. The Middle East had witnessed more violence during the past year than anyone thought possible. Universal adherence to the NPT in the Middle East remained a priority for Egypt, which would continue to pursue that course through the introduction of the relevant resolution. He welcomed the announcement by Iraq to allow the resumption of arms inspections on its soil by the United Nations and its cooperation in those efforts. Those were essential steps towards the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iraq more than a decade ago.
Efforts to be pursued in Iraq had been mandated by the Security Council in 1991 as steps towards the goal of establishing a zone free of mass destruction weapons and missiles for their delivery in the Middle East, he continued. The credibility of the non-proliferation regime in the Middle East and beyond depended, to a significant extent, on future action by the international community and by the Security Council towards realizing their wider objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East. The updating of strategic doctrines in a manner that set out new rationales for the continued retention of nuclear weapons, their development and deployment, and even their possible use, was among the more serious challenges.
MARLY CEDEÑO REYES (Venezuela) said that her government was unequivocally committed to disarmament. She welcomed Cuba’s accession to the NPT and ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. She hoped that the universality of the NPT was next on the international agenda. She welcomed the concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones and was pleased by the progress made by the Central Asian States to form one. With respect to the CTBT, she announced that her government had ratified it last May.
With respect to the nuclear States, a binding legal instrument was needed to ensure that nuclear States would not be able to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear States. She also urged nuclear States to negotiate in good faith and reduce their nuclear arsenals. In regard to outer space, she supported Russia and China’s proposal to prevent an arms race there. Insisting that weapons of mass destruction represented a threat to the entire international community, she expressed satisfaction with negotiations for the creation of the International Code of Conduct for ballistic missiles.
She called for international reductions in military spending. Her Government supported diverting funds away from defence and towards such areas as education, health care, and the environment. Her Government was also working in close cooperation with other South American countries to promote peace and security throughout the region.
GEORGES PACLISANU, International Committee of the Red Cross, began by outlining positive developments in the Convention on Certain Chemical Weapons. More specifically, he praised the decision to extend the scope of the Convention’s protocols to apply also to non-international armed conflicts. That was crucial, since domestic conflicts were more prevalent in today’s world. Because of the decision, the Red Cross’s promotion of the Convention’s rules would now be easier. He also expressed satisfaction with the decision of States parties to the Convention to begin formal efforts to address the issue of explosive remnants of war and anti-vehicle mines.
Continuing to discuss the Convention, he urged all States Parties to accede as early as possible to its extended scope and to any Protocol to which they were not yet party. He also urged them to support a new legally binding protocol dealing with explosive remnants of war. With respect to the Ottawa Convention, he praised its effectiveness in reducing the number of mines and in mobilizing States, international agencies, and NGOs to eliminate them. He reminded delegates that upcoming deadlines for stockpile destruction needed to be met.
Expressing concern that the “biotechnology revolution” could inadvertently facilitate the use of biological weapons, he regretted that negotiations to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention through a compliance-monitoring regime had not been concluded. Warning delegates that biological weapons had the potential to cause disease and spread fear among large numbers of people, he urged governments, the scientific community, and the biotechnology industry to work together to ensure that biotechnology would never be put to hostile uses.
Before concluding, he spoke about the Conference on small arms. He expressed satisfaction that it had helped draw attention to the enormous human costs of the unregulated availability of such weapons. Nevertheless, there was more work to be done in that area. More specifically, he urged States to review their laws and policies governing the transfer and availability of arms and ammunitions, with a view to limiting access for those who were likely to violate international humanitarian law.
ALFRED MOUNGARA-MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) stressed the importance for Africa of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Togo. Sufficient resources should be supplied to enable the Centre to conduct its critical activities. He supported the convening of an international conference to identify ways and means of eliminating nuclear dangers. Two years after the successful review of the NPT, and despite the Millennium Summit's vision on disarmament, the world was "so very far" from achieving the goal of general disarmament. The deadlock, indeed the paralysis, of multilateral diplomacy had raised serious doubts about the prospects for a world free from weapons of mass destruction.
He urged faithful compliance with the critical disarmament instruments, in particular, the NPT, which remained the pillar of the disarmament process. Also, more countries should join the CTBT. Meanwhile, the nuclear-weapon States should adopt moratoriums on nuclear tests until that Treaty's effective operation. Gabon had a seismological monitoring station of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO) on its territory and would continue to cooperate with its preparatory activities, aimed at a world regime governing compliance with that Treaty. The horrific terrorist attacks against the United States recalled the urgent need to keep weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from falling into the hands of “outlaws” willing to stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
The international community, and in particular the nuclear powers, should uphold the multilateral nature of the disarmament process. They should consider the imperative need to maintain the authority of the disarmament treaty regime and promote the process of arms control and disarmament overall. The United Nations must continue to play a leadership role in that area and international norms and instruments preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems must be strengthened. Additional effort must be made to revitalize multilateral diplomacy in the disarmament realm. The relationship between disarmament and development on the one hand, and disarmament and the environment on the other hand, should no longer be disregarded.
Right of Reply
The representative of Iraq, replying to the statement made today by the representative of Australia and to his "false accusations" against his country, said he wished to make clear some facts. First, Iraq had not contravened international norms or instruments. Iraq was committed to all international disarmament treaties and to the resolutions of the United Nations and Security Council. The fact that the United Nations inspectors left Iraq was not based on a decision from Iraq or the United Nations Secretary-General, or by a resolution of the Security Council. That was a unilateral decision made by Richard Butler -- incidentally, an Australian -- then the Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). Moreover, that decision had been made in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom, in order to prepare for the attack against Iraq in December 1998.
Second, he said, Iraq voluntarily, without a Security Council resolution, had declared its unconditional acceptance of the return of United Nations inspectors to Iraq, in order to prove to the world that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Iraq negotiated with the United Nations in Vienna in order to put in place the final arrangements for the return of the inspectors. However, the United States opposed the return of the inspectors. They also opposed the agreement reached with the United Nations in Vienna.
Third, Iraq was not the one threatening international peace and security, he said. Those who threatened international peace and security were those preparing themselves for war against Iraq and for war against peoples and countries that opposed their aggressive policies. Why was the Zionist entity in the Middle East not branded as a threat to international peace and security? he asked. Didn't the daily attacks on the Arab States and the Palestinian people and its possession of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons represent a threat to international peace and security? Was that taking place with the support of its United States?
He called it strange that some countries should make statements as if they were totally unaware of what was happening around the world now. How could Iraq be attacked on a daily basis for more than a decade by the United States and the United Kingdom, daily killing innocent civilians and daily destroying the economic and industrial infrastructure of Iraq, without any of those States uttering a word?
Did the representative of Australia have evidence on the manner in which Iraq threatened international peace and security? he asked. The Australian naval forces were present in the Gulf monitoring everything going into and out of Iraq.
The international community must hear the truth about the conspiracies being
hatched against his country and the plans to carry out an act of aggression against it, without any legitimate right to do so or any international law justifying it.
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