PREVENTION OF OUTER SPACE ARMS RACE, RATIFICATION OF NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

15 October 2002
GA/DIS/3233

PREVENTION OF OUTER SPACE ARMS RACE, RATIFICATION OF NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

15/10/2002
Press Release
GA/DIS/3233


Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

12th Meeting (AM)


PREVENTION OF OUTER SPACE ARMS RACE, RATIFICATION OF NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY


AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE


The General Assembly would reaffirm its recognition that the legal regime applicable to outer space did not, in and of itself, guarantee the prevention of an outer space arms race, according to one of six draft resolutions and one draft decision introduced this morning in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).


Speaking before the introduction of the text, which emphasized the need for further verification measures to prevent such an arms race, the representative of China said that the loopholes in existing treaties had revealed the need to negotiate a legal instrument to "arrest the negative slide" towards the weaponization of space.  A paper submitted by China and the Russian Federation to the Conference on Disarmament in June sought the inclusion of basic obligations in such an instrument, including not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons.


A draft resolution sponsored by Australia, Mexico and New Zealand on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would have the Assembly stress the importance and urgency of signing and ratifying that Treaty.  The Assembly would urge States to maintain their moratoriums on nuclear weapons test explosions, pending the entry into force of the Treaty, and to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level.


 (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).


Determined to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction, that were comparable in destructive capability to those identified by the United Nations in 1948, the Assembly would call upon all States to give favourable consideration to recommendations made by the Conference on Disarmament on undertaking specific negotiations dealing with that question, by the terms of a draft resolution introduced today by the representative of Belarus.


Malaysia introduced a draft solution on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.  By the text, the Assembly would call, once again, upon all States to commence multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention to prohibit the development,


Fifty-seventh General Assembly      - 1a -                        GA/DIS/3233

First Committee                                                   15 October 2002

12th Meeting (AM)


production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination.


According to a draft decision sponsored by Mexico on a United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers, the Assembly would decide to include that item in the provisional agenda of its next session.


Two more draft resolutions introduced today would have the Assembly:  stress the importance of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme as a significant instrument; and request the Disarmament Commission to meet from

31 March to 17 April of 2003 and to continue its consideration of ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament, as well as practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 16 October, to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussion and introduction of all draft texts.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on other weapons of mass destruction and disarmament aspects of outer space, as well as the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions


Introduction of draft texts on the following topics were expected:  the importance of signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); prevention of an arms race in outer space; a follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice; new types of weapons of mass destruction; a report on the Disarmament Commission; and the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme.


According to a draft resolution sponsored by Australia, Mexico and New Zealand on the CTBT (document A/C.1/57/L.4), the General Assembly would stress the importance and urgency of signing and ratifying the CTBT.


It would also urge States to maintain their moratoria on nuclear weapons test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, pending the entry into force of the Treaty.  Additionally, it would urge all States to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level.


Under a related term, the Assembly would urge all States that had not yet signed the Treaty to sign and ratify it as soon as possible while refraining from acts that would defeat its object and purpose in the meanwhile.  With respect to States that had signed but not yet ratified the Treaty, in particular those whose ratification was needed for its entry into force, it would urge them to accelerate their ratification processes.


A draft resolution sponsored by Belarus on Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.5), would have the Assembly call upon all States to give favourable consideration to recommendations made by the Conference on Disarmament on undertaking specific negotiations dealing with preventing the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction.


According to a draft resolution on the Report of the Disarmament Commission (document A/C.1/57/L.6), the Assembly would request the Commission to meet from

31 March to 17 April of 2003 to continue its work in accordance with its mandate.  It would also request it to continue the consideration of ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament, as well as practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.


Under a draft resolution on the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme (document A/C.1/57/L.20), the Assembly would stress the importance of the Programme as a significant instrument in enabling all Member States to participate fully in the deliberations and negotiations on disarmament in the various United Nations bodies, and in assisting them in complying with treaties, and in contributing to agreed mechanisms for transparency.


The Assembly would recommend that the Programme focus its efforts on, among other things:  generating public understanding of the importance of multilateral action, including by the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament, in the field of arms limitation and disarmament; and to maintain the Disarmament Internet Web site.


By a draft resolution on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/57/L.30), the Assembly would reaffirm the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space and the readiness of all States to contribute to that common objective.


The Assembly would also reaffirm its recognition that the legal regime applicable to outer space did not, in and of itself, guarantee the prevention of an outer space arms race and that there was a need to consolidate and reinforce that regime and enhance its effectiveness.  It would also emphasize the necessity for further measures, with appropriate and effective provisions for verification to prevent an arms race in outer space.


Under a draft resolution entitled “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/57/L.53), the Assembly would call, once again, upon all States to commence multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention to prohibit the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination.


General Statements and Introduction of Drafts


LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) lent his full support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  He said that the OPCW’s mission called for the destruction of massive arsenals and that commitment required huge financial contributions.  The OPCW also had to concern itself with chemicals used for agriculture, ensuring that such chemicals were not used for terrorist purposes.  The achievements of chemistry must only be used for the benefit of humankind, and developing countries should be able to expand in technical fields not prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention.  On the other hand, violators of the Convention must be monitored and punished.


He was pleased that an Argentinean diplomat had been put in charge of the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat and hoped that the Secretariat would become more dynamic under his leadership.  He also expressed hope that the Chemical Weapons Convention would be upheld throughout the world and that such weapons would eventually be banned and unable to jeopardize international peace and security.  Before concluding, he welcomed the decision of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to accede to the Convention.


VALENTIN B. RYBAKOV (Belarus) introduced the draft resolution entitled "Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons" (document A/C.1/57/L.5).  The draft was co-sponsored by Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.  It proposed to use the Conference on Disarmament as the main body for considering the issue of new mass destruction weapons and contained a reference to all previous resolutions on that question.  The operative portion of the text reaffirmed the need for effective measures to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction.  A similar resolution had been adopted in 1996 and 1990 without a vote.  He sought the same for the present text.


HU XIAODI (China) said one of humankind's greatest achievements had been the opening of the new frontier in outer space.  Yet, the research and development of space weapons and the unveiling of space combat theories clearly indicated that outer space was facing the increasing danger of an arms race.  If that trend was not reversed, countries would be compelled to take measures to protect the security of their space assets and relevant ground facilities.  Space would then be "weaponized", and also full of weapon debris.  Efforts for the peaceful uses of outer space would be retarded and fruitful achievements endangered. 


Over the years, he said, the international community had realized the severe consequences of an arms race in outer space and made unremitting efforts to codify and improve relevant global legal regimes.  Various treaties, including the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) had played a positive role.  Nevertheless, with the rapid development of space technology for military purposes, the loopholes of those treaties in countering that threat had been revealed.  The international community must negotiate and conclude a legal instrument to arrest the negative slide towards an arms race in outer space.  Progress had been lacking in implementation of the relevant Committee resolutions, and the Conference on Disarmament had yet to conduct substantive work on the issue. 


In June, China and the Russian Federation, together with several other countries, had submitted a paper to the Conference laying out their preliminary views on the general framework of a legal instrument on outer space, he recalled.  States should argue not to:  place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying any kinds of weapons; install such weapons on celestial bodies or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner; resort to the threat or use of force against outer space objects; and assist or encourage other States or groups of States or international organizations to participate in activities prohibited by such a legal agreement.  He was pleased that there was broad common understanding on the objective and he was open to amendments to further develop and improve the document.


MARIO MAIOLINI (Italy) began by expressing his condolences for the events in Indonesia.  As the Chairman of the Disarmament Commission and on behalf of the co-sponsors, he then introduced the draft resolution on the Report on the Disarmament Commission (document A/C.1/57/L.6).  He said the draft was the result of open-ended consultations and had been prepared in a similar manner to previous resolutions on the Commission.


He spoke of the need to achieve practical disarmament in the field of nuclear and conventional weapons.  It was no easy task to maintain an easy balance of diverging interests in the Commission, he said.  In previous years, however, these challenges had been met.


He expressed the hope that delegations would participate in inter-sessional consultative meetings.  He also expressed “guarded optimism” for the 2003 session, saying that the work of the previous session would provide a good foundation.  Finally, he hoped that the draft resolution he was introducing would enjoy solid support, as it had in previous years.


GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) introduced draft resolutions on the:  CTBT (document A/C.1/57/L.4) and the United Nations Information Programme on Disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.20.  (A revised CTBT draft will be reissued as a document of the Committee).  He also introduced a draft decision on a United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers (document A/C.1/57/L.19).


He said that adoption of the CTBT six years ago had demonstrated the international community's clear recognition of the danger of nuclear tests.  Completely banning them, thereby impeding the development and qualitative improvement of new weapons, would significantly promote international security, leading to nuclear disarmament.  Hopefully, the text would send a clear message about the CTBT and emphasize the importance of its early operation.


Turning to the draft on the United Nations Information Programme on Disarmament, he said that the operative portion lauded the measures that had been adopted to use the scarce resources more effectively.  It also highlighted the importance of the programme and submitted recommendations for future work.  It invited Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund and requested the Secretary-General to report on implementation of the Programme at the fifty-ninth session.


The co-sponsors of the draft on a United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers favoured such a conference, but felt that more consultations were needed on that initiative.  Thus, the draft decision sought to include the item on the provisional agenda of the fifty-eighth session.


HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) introduced the draft resolution on follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/54/L.43).  He said that it was an updated version of the resolution adopted at the 56th Session of the General Assembly and 15 out of its 17 preambular paragraphs and the four operative paragraphs were identical with resolution 56/24S.


The two new preambular paragraphs -- namely the ninth and fourteenth -- were introduced to reflect important international developments that had taken place since last year.  Specifically, the ninth preambular paragraph noted the signing of the Moscow Treaty by the United States and the Russian Federation, but also reiterated that the arms reduction agreed upon could be complemented by further efforts to ensure its irreversibility.  The fourteenth preambular paragraph summarized the view of the international community concerning the 13 practical steps for the implementation of article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).


Referring to operative paragraph 1, which underlined the International Court of Justice’s conclusion that there existed an obligation to pursue and conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control, he said that contrary to the views of some delegations, the draft resolution did not pretend that the paragraph was the only conclusion of the Court that could have an influence on disarmament policy, or that there were no other actions that could be taken in light of the Court’s decisions.


Before concluding, he insisted that the final goal of the international community must remain the elimination of all nuclear weapons, within a foreseeable, realistic and attainable time frame.  In that regard, he called for political will on the part of the nuclear-weapon States.


AHMED ABU ZEID (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution entitled "Prevention of an arms race in outer space" (document A/C.1/57/L.30).  The text was similar in substance to the resolution adopted at previous sessions.  The operative part of

the text stressed the need to strengthen negotiations to prevent an outer space arms race.  It called on the States involved in the use of outer space to refrain from taking any measures that would be contrary to that goal.  The text was made possible largely because of intensive efforts undertaken by the Sri Lankan delegation over the past year.


* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.