BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS, MIDDLE EAST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY 13 TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

17 October 2002
GA/DIS/3235

BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS, MIDDLE EAST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY 13 TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

17/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3235

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)

BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS, MIDDLE EAST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED BY 13 TEXTS INTRODUCED IN FIRST COMMITTEE

       "Deliberate disease is a real and present danger," the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today during the introduction of 13 draft decisions and resolutions, including on mass destruction weapons and dual-use technologies.

Introducing the text on the Biological Weapons Convention, the representative of Hungary said that the anthrax incidents in the United States last year had demonstrated the potential threat of the misuse of biological technology, should that "genie" escape the bottle.  The destructive potential of deliberate disease as a weapon was second to none.  Writing off that Convention's regime, or declaring it redundant, was an unaffordable luxury, he warned.

The other texts introduced in the two meetings today concerned the Chemical Weapons Convention; reducing nuclear danger; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament; and transparency in armaments.

Also:  the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia; the Standing Advisory Committee in Central Africa; regional disarmament; and the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament in Africa and Asia and the Pacific; and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The General Assembly, determined to achieve the effective prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, would emphasize adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention, under a draft resolution tabled today by the representative of Poland, also on behalf of Canada.

The two draft resolutions concerning the Middle East were introduced by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States.  The first covers the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; and the second the risk of nuclear proliferation in that region.  The latter would call upon Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. 

Under the draft resolution sponsored by Mongolia on its international security and nuclear-weapon-free status, the Assembly would welcome the

consultation of the five nuclear-weapon States with Mongolia on measures to be taken to institutionalize its status at the international level.

The Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines and immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, according to a draft resolution on reducing nuclear danger submitted by the representative of India.  A further term would request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures towards implementing that provision.

The representative of India also introduced the traditional text on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament.  It would have the Assembly urge member States to undertake multilateral negotiations with the participation of all interested States in order to establish universally acceptable, non-discriminatory guidelines for international transfers of dual-use goods and technologies and high technology with military applications.

A draft resolution on transparency in armaments, introduced by the representative of the Netherlands, would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a group of governmental experts to be convened in 2003, to prepare a report on the continuing operation of the Register of Conventional Arms and its further development, with a view to a decision at its fifty-eighth session.

On the activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, the Assembly would reaffirm its support for efforts aimed at promoting regional and subregional confidence-building measures and emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational to prevent the outbreak of future armed conflicts.

Concerning regional disarmament, the Assembly would stress that sustained efforts were needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues.

Three more drafts were introduced on:  the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.  Each focused on revitalizing the Centres through sufficient resources.

Statements and introductions of drafts were also made by the representatives of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Belarus, Central African Republic, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, China, Iran, Poland, Canada, Brazil, Qatar, Kenya, and Libya.  The Organization of Islamic Conference also spoke.  The representative of Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs spoke, following the introduction of the draft on the Regional Centre in Asia and the Pacific by the representative of Nepal, concerning the Host Country Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow Friday, 18 October, to continue its thematic discussion and introduction of draft resolutions and decisions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to continue its second phase of work, namely thematic discussions on regional disarmament, confidence-building measures -- including transparency in armaments  -- and other disarmament measures and machinery, as well as the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions and decisions.

Introductions of draft texts on the following topics were expected:  the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; the Biological Weapons Convention; the Standing Advisory Committee in Central Africa; the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament for Africa and for Asia and the Pacific; transparency in armaments; regional disarmament; the Chemical Weapons Convention; reducing nuclear danger; the role of science and technology in international security and disarmament; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia.

A draft resolution on the activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/57/L.15) would have the Assembly reaffirm its support for efforts aimed at promoting regional and subregional confidence-building measures and for the Committee’s programme of work.

Additionally, the Assembly would emphasize the need to make the early-warning mechanism in Central Africa operational to prevent, in part, the outbreak of future armed conflicts.  It would also appeal to Member States and to governmental and non-governmental organizations to make additional voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for the implementation of the Committee’s programme of work.

A draft resolution sponsored by Trinidad and Tobago on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/57/L.16) would have the Assembly reiterate its strong support for the role of the Centre and congratulate it for expanding the vast range of activities carried out last year in the field of peace, disarmament and development.

The Centre would be asked to take into account the proposals to be submitted by the countries of the region in promoting confidence-building measures, arms control and limitation, transparency, disarmament and development at the regional level.  The Assembly would appeal to Member States, particularly in the region, and to international governmental and non-governmental organizations to make and increase voluntary contributions to strengthen the Centres, its programme of activities and their implementation.

By a draft resolution on Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status (document A/C.1/57/L.21), the Assembly would welcome the consultation of the five nuclear-weapon States with Mongolia on measures to be taken to institutionalize its status at the international level.  The Assembly would invite Member States to continue to cooperate with Mongolia in that regard, and appeal to Member States of the Asia and Pacific region to support Mongolia's efforts to join the relevant regional security and economic arrangements.

According to a draft decision sponsored by Hungary on the Biological Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.22), the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to render the necessary assistance to depositary governments of the Convention to provide services as required for implementing the decisions and recommendations of the review conferences, as well as the decisions contained in the final report of the Special Conference of the States parties to the Convention, held from 19 to 30 September 1994.  It would also ask him to render the necessary assistance for the Fifth Review Conference, to be held in Geneva from 11 to 22 November.

Under a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League of States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.27), the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel's accession to the NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

The Assembly would call upon that State to accede to the NPT without further delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, and to renounce possession of those weapons, and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region, and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

A further draft text sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.28) would have the Assembly urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish such a zone and, as a means of promoting that objective, would invite the countries concerned to adhere to the NPT.

The Assembly would call upon all countries of the region that had not yet done so, pending the zone's establishment, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards.  It would invite the nuclear-weapon States and all others to render their assistance in establishing such a zone and, at the same time, to refrain from any action that ran counter to both the letter and spirit of the present text.

By another draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the Group of African States on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/L.29), the Assembly would reaffirm its strong support for the Centre's revitalization and appeal once again to all States, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions in order to strengthen its programmes and activities.

Under a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/57/L.35), the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to ensure the physical operation of the Centre from Kathmandu within six months of the date of signature of the Host Country Agreement, and to enable it to function effectively.

The Assembly would appeal to Member States, in particular those within the Asia-Pacific region, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, the only resources of the Centre, to strengthen its programmes of activities and their implementation.

By a draft resolution on transparency in armaments  (document A/C.1/57/L.37), the Assembly would reaffirm its decision, with a view to the further development of the Register of Conventional Arms, to keep the scope of and participation in the Register under review and, to that end:  recall its request to Member States to provide the Secretary-General with their views on the Register's continuing operation and further development and on transparency measures related to weapons of mass destruction; request the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a group of governmental experts to be convened in 2003, to prepare a report on the continuing operation of the Register and its further development, with a view to a decision at its fifty-eighth session.

A draft resolution on regional disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.39) would have the Assembly stress that sustained efforts were needed, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament and under the umbrella of the United Nations, to make progress on the entire range of disarmament issues.

The Assembly would affirm that global and regional approaches to disarmament complemented each other and should therefore be pursued simultaneously to promote regional and international peace and security.  It would call upon States to conclude agreements, wherever possible, for nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and confidence building measures at the regional and subregional levels.

According to a draft resolution sponsored by Canada and Poland on implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) (document A/C.1/57/L.48), the Assembly would emphasize the necessity of universal adherence and call upon all States that had not yet done so to become parties to it without delay.

The Assembly would also stress the importance to the Convention that all possessors of chemical weapons and production or development facilities, including previously declared possessor States, should be among the States parties to the Convention.

It would also stress the importance of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in verifying compliance with the Convention, as well as in promoting the timely and efficient accomplishment of all its objectives, and would urge all States parties to meet in full and on time their obligations under the Convention and to support the OPCW in its implementation activities.

A draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.50), would have the Assembly urge member States to undertake multilateral negotiations with the participation of all interested States in order to establish universally acceptable, non-discriminatory guidelines for international transfers of dual-use goods and technologies and high technology with military applications.

According to a draft resolution entitled reducing nuclear danger (document A/C.1/57/L.52), the Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines and 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.

It would also call upon Member States to take the necessary measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects and to promote nuclear disarmament, with the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Thematic discussion and introduction of drafts

ALAA ISSA (Egypt) introduced the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.27), on behalf of the Arab League of States and other Member States.  The draft drew attention to the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and throughout the world.  Nuclear installations not subjected to comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, continued to exist in the region.  The preambular portion noted that Israel was the only State in the region that had not yet acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  It appealed to all States of the region to submit all nuclear activities to comprehensive safeguards, with a view to turning the region into a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

He noted that among the terms of the operative portion of the text was a welcoming of the Review Conferences of the NPT.  It also stressed the need for Israel to accede to that Treaty and submit its nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards.  He would have liked to have recorded progress during the past year and to have been able to take note of steps taken by Israel in the direction of implementing that draft.  Nonetheless, the text was still awaiting implementation. Hopefully, the majority of delegations would, once again, highlight the importance the international community attached to the call for Israel's accession to the NPT.

Next, he introduced the draft resolution calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.28).  The text reflected the interest of the international community in creating such a zone in the Middle East and seeing specific measures taken by the countries of the region towards that goal.  It also emphasized the overriding role of the United Nations in that pursuit.  It called upon the States of region to take specific measures and refrain, meanwhile, from any military nuclear activities.  It called upon parties outside the region to support that effort, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly.  He hoped the text would, once again, enjoy consensus. 

He also introduced the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/C.1/57/L.29).  Among its terms, the text sought to ensure the Centre's financial and organizational stability.

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) began by extending condolences to the Indonesian Government and the families who were affected by the Bali tragedy.  He said that the international community had made significant progress in combating terrorism.  However, there was still much to be done.  In that regard, he called on the international community to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.  He also wanted to see universal respect for the IAEA.

He voiced support for the draft resolution put forth by Egypt on the proposed nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Unfortunately, Israel was the only State in the region that had not expressed support for the draft.  He called on other States to convince Israel to accept the idea of such a zone in the region.  He did not want to see a discriminatory policy of double standards, in which the international community condoned nuclear weapons in Israel, but not in other Middle Eastern States.  Reminding delegates that his Government had acceded to the NPT, he expressed concern about Israel’s reluctance to do the same and to submit to IAEA safeguards.

CHRIS SANDERS (Netherlands) introduced the traditional annual draft resolution on transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/57/L.37), on behalf of more than 100 co-sponsors.  The text was an updated version of the resolution adopted the previous year.  He said that transparency in armaments constituted a major confidence-building measure and diminished misperceptions between States.  It was exemplified by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, which, he noted, was currently celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Although the Register had been successful, he maintained that it had not yet achieved true universal participation.  He added that transparency in armaments should not be limited to conventional arms.  For its part, his Government would work to promote greater transparency in the field of weapons of mass destruction, as well.  Before concluding, he expressed hope that the draft resolution in question would receive widespread support and be adopted by consensus.

TAREQ AL-BANAI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, expressed support for transparency as a measure that could help consolidate global peace and security.  Transparency must be governed by clearly determined, basic principles, which were all-encompassing and non-selective.  The Register of Conventional Arms was a first attempt by the international community to settle the issues and, although its value in terms of confidence-building loomed large, it had encountered several obstacles stemming from the fact that nearly half the Member States of the United Nations had not submitted data to it.

He said the Register must be expanded to cover current security needs.  Its success would hinge on the readiness of the international community to build greater confidence, flowing from greater transparency that included nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  That would make the Register more balanced and comprehensive, and draw more participants.  So far, the Register had not taken into account the weapons imbalance in the Middle East region.  Regrettably, the Working Group to consider expansion of the Register had failed to attain the goal desired by the League.  Given its concerns and desire to guarantee international participation in the Register, he called for progress along those lines.

NARAYAN DEV PANT (Nepal) began by extending condolences to the Indonesian Government and the families who were affected by the Bali tragedy.  He then introduced a draft resolution concerning the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/57/L.35).

Although the draft greatly resembled its counterpart from the previous year, he called attention to the second and eighth preambular paragraphs, which underscored the validity of the Centre as a vehicle to promote peace and disarmament in the region.  He also referred to the sixth operative paragraph, which expressed the wish of the co-sponsors to see the Centre function effectively from Kathmandu, upon conclusion of the host country agreement.  He was confident that the draft would bring about concrete results and an early relocation of the Centre from New York to Kathmandu.  He also hoped that it would be adopted without a vote, as was customary.

SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan) introduced a draft resolution concerning regional disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.39).  He said that in most areas of tension and potential conflict, a regional approach could best to promote disarmament and enhance security.  Accordingly, the draft resolution noted the recent proposals for disarmament at the regional and subregional levels and expressed the conviction that endeavours to promote such disarmament should take into account the specific characteristics of each region in order to be successful.  He said adoption of the draft would encourage countries that were pushing for regional disarmament.  He hoped that, like last year, the draft would be adopted without a vote.

MARIUSZ HANDZLIK (Poland) said his Government had deemed non-proliferation, arms limitations, disarmament and export controls to be central priorities.  Such priorities were becoming increasingly important, since some countries, as well as non-State actors, were coveting new weapons and dangerous technologies.  In that regard, he called on the international community to effectively regulate exports of dual-use items.

Turning to the destabilizing effects of missiles and related technologies, he said initiatives only existed in three areas:  limitation and elimination of military missile inventory; missile launch transparency; and the prevention of proliferation of nuclear-armed missiles.  The only multilateral mechanism that explicitly addressed the threat of proliferation was the draft of the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.  He insisted that the universalization of Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines and procedures would be the only way to successfully combat the proliferation of missiles and related technologies.

TIBOR TOTH (Hungary) introduced the draft decision on the Biological Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.22).  He said the anthrax incidents, which had occurred against the tragic background of 11 September 2001, had demonstrated the potential threat of the misuse of biological technology, should that "genie get out of the bottle".  The destructive potential of deliberate disease as a weapon of terror was "second to none".  Miniscule quantities of biological agents could cause massive destruction of life, widespread terror and critical disruption of basic activities.

"Deliberate disease is a real and present danger," he said.  As a result of setbacks encountered in the past 18 months, there was a new realism emerging about the regime of the Biological Weapons Convention.  Its potential new role -- less ambitious, but still meaningful -- could provide a unique framework for measures to benchmark and enhance implementation and decrease the likelihood of deliberately or accidentally occurring diseases.  That could be done through successive steps, which would not necessarily be legally binding, and through efforts undertaken both nationally and internationally.  Such an incremental advance was not just "pseudo" action; as demonstrated by the regulatory and safety activities of the IAEA, such incremental steps could be feasible and meaningful.

In order to reach the critical mass for such a complementary role for the Convention's regime, some basic questions should be answered, he said.  For example, beyond norm setting, was there any real-life functional requirement for such a regime?  Could all other containment and mitigation means, such as civilian defence, preparedness and vaccination, individually or collectively, handle the whole spectrum of threat without any margin of error, thus making complementary tools, such as the Treaty regime, redundant?  If the slightest doubt existed that there still might be a future margin of error, writing off the Biological Weapons Convention regime, or declaring it redundant, was an unaffordable luxury.

VALENTIN B. RYBAKOV (Belarus) said that the spread of conventional weapons threatened global security and stability.  The rise of tensions in a region and the uncontrolled deployment of arms and military technology could spread to other regions, as well.  Key elements for conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels were confidence building and security measures.  The primary objective of those steps was to strengthen regional security as an active element of international security, and lower the risk of the outbreak of armed conflicts.  The formulation of such measures was aimed at avoiding misunderstandings, thereby lowering the risk of military confrontation and creating a regional climate in which the importance of the military element would decline.

He hailed the efforts of those countries that had concluded appropriate multilateral and bilateral agreements and called upon other States to support initiatives aimed at achieving regional and subregional conventional arms control.  The adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) was an example of a regional agreement.  Belarus had been among the first countries to ratify that instrument, which had incorporated the new geopolitical conditions in Europe and symbolized a shift from old relations in Europe, characterized by bloc confrontation and resistance, to a new stage, based on cooperation and confidence.

FERNAND POUKRÉ-KONO (Central African Republic) introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/C.1/57/L.15).  He said that the Committee’s aim was to prevent future conflicts in that region.  It, therefore, encouraged cooperation between the Central African States’ security forces, increased contact between administrative and military authorities, and summit meetings devoted to security issues between the governments of the region.

He said that the draft text did not differ from preceding versions.  However, the signal it was sending was one of reaffirmation of confidence-building measures and the peace, development and security that such measures entailed.  Development, he said, could only take place in an environment of peace.

MOHAMMED MANA AL-OTAIBA (United Arab Emirates) said the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones greatly contributed to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the danger of nuclear war.  It was also a key measure towards the elimination of nuclear weapons and to general and complete disarmament.  The Middle East was ruled by an obvious power imbalance, due to the fact that Israel, an occupying country that practiced terrorism and aggression in the occupied Palestinian lands, possessed a huge arsenal of weapons -- at its forefront, nuclear weapons.  In addition, it refused to join the NPT or subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.

He said that such actions created a direct threat to the security of the Arab nations and weakened the credibility and universality of the NPT.  It also hindered the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, thereby perpetuating the dangerous tension there.  He called for States that possessed nuclear weapons and who were members of the Security Council to undertake their responsibility to ensure the establishment of a zone free of those weapons and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.  He also urged the adherence of all parties in the region to the NPT.  Finally, comprehensive nuclear disarmament in the Middle East should not impede gaining knowledge about the peaceful, scientific use of nuclear energy.

MILAD ATIEH (Syria) supported the draft resolution presented by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.28).  However, he wished to clarify some points.  He said Syria was one of the first States in the region to sign the NPT.  It was, thus, among the first to promote the idea of the Middle East as a region free of nuclear weapons.  He was convinced that the possession of nuclear weapons by any one State in the region would cause serious security threats, not only to Middle Eastern States, but to the entire world.  He reminded delegates that all Arab States had acceded to the NPT.  Israel, on the other hand, had not.  Israel had also failed to adhere to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the IAEA and to subject its nuclear facilities to inspection.  Furthermore, it had refused to abide by any international resolution concerning nuclear disarmament.

Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, spoke concerning the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/57/L.35).  He acknowledged that the issue of the relocation of the Centre from New York to Kathmandu was a matter of deep concern to the Government of Nepal.  He, therefore, expressed a desire to see early implementation of the Secretary-General’s stated readiness to make progress with respect to the Host Country Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding.

He noted that such agreements, taking different countries’ particular conditions into account, were not always identical.  Additionally, the United Nations had to consider the issue of security for its employees and related costs before implementing relocation.  He also acknowledged that previous Host Country Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding had been signed in 1988 and were, therefore, in need of updates, especially with respect to current costs.  Such updates were required to ensure that financial difficulties would not impede the Centre’s progress.  In that regard, he reminded the Government of Nepal that it would be required to bear the Centre’s operational costs in Kathmandu.

He said the Secretariat had agreed to the Nepalese Government’s request that its voluntary contributions up to 1997, amounting to $63,000, be set aside for the initial establishment of the Centre and its required equipment and facilities.  The Secretariat was now awaiting a favourable reply with regard to the proposed Host Country Agreement.  He concluded by reiterating the readiness of the United Nations and the Department of Disarmament Affairs to cooperate with the Government of Nepal and the Member States to seek feasible and satisfying solutions to the relocation issue.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, exercising the right of reply, said that earlier this morning, the Egyptian representative had presented two drafts dealing directly with the Middle East.  While he shared his hopes for one of them, namely the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, he did not share the call for support of the draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  He would be part of the consensus on the nuclear-weapon-free zone text and would describe, as usual, his views in detail.  At the same time, one-sided and unbalanced resolutions that aimed at isolating and alienating Israel, such as the one on the nuclear proliferation risk, did not contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Moreover, he said, such resolutions undermined the confidence and climate of cooperation that were an essential basis for achieving that goal and ignored the complex reality of the region.  Further, such a text could not substitute for the need to conduct direct negotiations, build confidence, reduce threats and establish stable peaceful relations in the region.  He urged those countries wishing to promote a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East to vote against that draft.

Further, countries not willing to participate in the Register of Conventional Arms -- a voluntary mechanism -- took the floor to advance their rejectionist attitude, in order to single out Israel, he said.  Their ambitious proposals regarding the expansion of the Register, in the name of strengthening it, would only undermine it.

PHILIP SEALY (Trinidad and Tobago) introduced, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group of States, a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/57/L.16).  Acknowledging that his region had recently, to a large extent, been spared the destructive effects of internal and inter-State conflicts, he claimed, nevertheless, that it was still necessary to strive for continued peace and stability, as well as increased security and development.

Evaluating the Centre’s work, he noted that in each of its seven areas of concentration -- firearms, ammunitions and explosives, anti-personnel landmines, conventional weapons, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and information and public events –- it had carried out many tasks.  Those tasks included organizing seminars and workshops, participating in symposiums, assessing the feasibility of and observing the destruction of firearms in Latin America and forging links with other regional organizations and treaty bodies.  Satisfied with the Centre’s work, he expressed confidence that the draft resolution would once again receive the support of the General Assembly.

HUGO FLORES (Peru) also spoke about the draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/57/L.16).

Because his country served as the host of the Centre, he was able to assure delegates that the Centre was functioning properly.  Among its achievements was the assistance it had provided and continued to provide to States in the region to implement the Inter-American Convention on Firearms.  It had also worked with the Swedish Cooperation Centre to urge governments to sign and implement international agreements and draft national legislation related to firearms.  Reiterating that the resolution was supported by all Latin American and Caribbean countries, he said the Centre would continue to need support and consultancy services from the international community.

HU XIAODI (China) said that the Chinese State Council, on

14 October, promulgated the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Export Control of Dual-use Biological Agents and Related Equipment and Technologies.  It clearly set out Chinese export control measures over those agents and related equipment.  China had always advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all mass destruction weapons, including biological weapons.  As a State party to the Biological Weapons Convention, it had always earnestly fulfilled its obligations and had never developed, produced or stockpiled any biological weapons, nor assisted any country to acquire or develop those weapons.

He said the Regulations would further improve the country's export control.  According to the provisions of the relevant Convention, States parties were obligated to promote international exchanges and cooperation activities for peaceful purposes in the biological field.  The entering into force of the Regulations, along with existing regulations related to export control, would establish a comprehensive non-proliferation and export control system covering all sensitive items in nuclear, biological, chemical and missile fields.  That marked the further improvement of legislation and export control by law and, thus, had a significant bearing on fulfilling China's international non-proliferation obligations.

HAMID BAEIDI NEJAD (Iran) said that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones had been widely recognized as a decisive means for promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Those zones had become a necessary complement to achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Despite strong calls by the international community to establish such a zone in the Middle East, no practical steps had been taken to do so.  Ridding the region of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons had not been facilitated by the accession of all States in the region to the NPT.  Instead, Israel had opted for a policy of terror, intimidation and expansion.  It pursued an active programme in nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, thereby placing the entire region in insecurity and volatile tension.

He said that Israel was operating a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, which remained unsafeguarded.  It had not allowed any inspector, even from allied countries, to enter the site.  Its policy of rejecting multilateral disarmament agreements had bred regional insecurity.  Iran, as an original State party to the NPT and the biological and chemical weapons conventions, was extremely concerned about that threatening situation.  Ultimately, Israel was trying to justify its false and unverified accusations against other countries in the region.  Israel should first accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Second, the developed States should refrain from exporting relevant technology and materials to Israel.

KRZYSTOF JAKUBOWSKI (Poland) introduced, on behalf of his Government and that of Canada, a draft resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/57/L.48).  As in previous years, the draft’s goal was to strengthen the role of, and further mobilize support for, the Convention.  He was satisfied with the progress that had been made in meeting the Convention’s objectives over the last five years.  Nevertheless, there was still much work to be done.  Additionally, with the threat of chemical terrorism growing, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was becoming more important than ever.

Calling for the universalization of the Convention, he, nevertheless, stated that his Government and that of Canada had decided not to invite additional co-sponsors to back their draft resolution.  He did, however, thank all delegations for their support of the Convention.  He concluded by expressing the hope that the draft would be adopted without a vote.

LAURA HIGGINS (Canada) said that, in addition to the horrific characteristics of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons were also "repugnant", as stated in the Biological Weapons Convention.  The obligations under the relevant Conventions must be fulfilled to rid the world of those weapons  Her delegation was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention, just introduced by the representative of Poland.  That relatively young international instrument had an impressive number of States parties -- nearly 150 -- and had already demonstrated its value in the collective fight against that scourge. 

She said that, this year, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was embarking on a new era.  As States parties prepared for the Convention's first review conference, it was important for the Committee and General Assembly to send a message of strong endorsement.  Turning to biological weapons, she said those were among the most fearful of mass destruction weapons.  Canada, therefore, was determined to strengthen and use the Convention to eliminate them.  She urged all those who maintained reservations to the        1925 Geneva Protocol to remove them.  (The formal title is the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare). 

SANTIAGO IRAZABAL MOURÃO (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the associated States of Chile and Bolivia, said that his region was one accustomed to peace, dialogue, and cooperation.  Transparency had been vital for building confidence between the States in the region and increasing security in the entire Western Hemisphere.  He expressed pleasure that the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, meeting in Miami next year, would continue work on promoting confidence-building measures in the Americas.

MESHAL ALKUBAISI (Qatar) said that a collective response was required in the face of current challenges to the international community, especially international terrorism.  Disarmament and global security must take on new dimensions, leading to a firm collective commitment and a new approach.  The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.27) asked non-members of the NPT to adhere to it without delay and to take measures to adopt the verification regime.  It also called upon the States of the region to take effective and practical steps towards the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.

He said that Israel was the only State in the region that had not supported the NPT.  Moreover, there had been no progress in that regard, nor had it subjected its nuclear installations to the IAEA safeguards regime.  In many international forums, Qatar had reiterated its sincere wish to rid the region of mass destruction weapons.  The report of the Secretary-General on the danger of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East recalls that the General Assembly last year reiterated the importance of Israel's adherence to the NPT and of placing its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The IAEA, at its General Conference in September, had adopted resolution 16 on the implementation of its safeguards in the Middle East.  That text stressed the urgent need for acceptance by all countries of the region.

MICHAEL OYUGI (Kenya) expressed support for the draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (document A/C.1/57/L.33), which had been introduced by the delegation of Japan yesterday.  He said that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a serious threat to the international community.  He recognized the programme of action, adopted at the related United Nations Conference as a positive development and said that, since its adoption, the Department of Disarmament Affairs, States, civil society and non-governmental organizations had all taken steps to address the issue of small arms.

Two key issues, however, had not been agreed upon at the Conference.  Those concerned the supply of arms to private individuals and to non-State actors.  Referring to “recent news of an individual roaming certain cities taking pot shots at innocent citizens and killing a few”, he stressed that now was the time to reach a consensus on those issues.

Concerned with the illicit trade in small arms, his Government had co-hosted an African conference on implementing the programme of action.  Additionally, because the African Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa were the areas of the world most affected by the uncontrolled spread of such weapons, he felt that he needed to support the draft resolution in question.  He called on all States to do the same.

RAKESH SOOD (India) introduced the draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.50).  The issue, brought before the Committee in draft form since  1989, was of fundamental importance, particularly to the developing world.  It was important to recognize, however, that several advances in the field could have military applications, thus making those technologies "dual use" in nature.  The present text reiterates that access to scientific and technological advances for development purposes was a crucial prerequisite for developing countries in their quest for economic growth and global trade.  Many of those countries were denied access, however, because of the persistence of discriminatory control regimes formulated in exclusive groupings of countries.

Indeed, he said, those regimes often acted as "non-economic" barriers to normal trade and went against the principles of global economic relations.  Exclusive export control policies were initiated to address proliferation concerns, at a time when there were no global agreements comprehensively addressing that issue.  Questions had since arisen about whether such exclusive arrangements had really been effective in achieving their stated purpose of strengthening the international non-proliferation regime -- especially in the context of scientific and technological applications related to advanced weapons or weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.

The Chemical Weapons Convention could eliminate a complete class of weapons of mass destruction and offered an opportunity to put in place a multilaterally negotiated, non-discriminatory, legal mechanism that would simultaneously address proliferation concerns emanating from unregulated transfers, while promoting the economic development of States parties.  That Convention had obligated the parties to review their existing national regulation in the field of trade in chemicals, in order to ensure that those were consistent with the Convention's objectives.  The setback to negotiations for an effective protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention had prevented its realization.  The lack of a genuinely non-discriminatory universal agreement on nuclear weapons had also reduced the effectiveness of efforts to achieve nuclear non-proliferation.

ZAGAR ERENDO (Mongolia) introduced the draft resolution on the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia (document A/C.1/57/L.21).  Incorporating elements from last year’s version, the text also took note of, and expressed appreciation for, the work of the Secretary-General.  The draft already enjoyed wide support, and he hoped that it would be adopted without a vote.

TAJOURI SHRADI (Libya) said he supported the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Those zones were key to international peace and security.  There was also a need to eliminate mass destruction weapons, particularly nuclear weapons.  Libya was a party to the NPT and had signed the Pelindaba Treaty to render Africa nuclear-weapon-free.  The call to establish such a zone in the Middle East had been met by Israel's refusal to adhere to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The United Nations had called for it, as had the fifth and sixth review conferences of the NPT.  The international community should insist on implementation by the Israelis, who should also submit a specific time frame for destroying their mass destruction weapons.

He thanked Hungary’s representative for his introduction of the draft decision on the Biological Weapons Convention and for his explanation about the dangers of violating it.  As a State party, Libya had participated in talks to strengthen it.  The ad hoc group had held 24 meetings over seven years.  Regrettably, it failed to agree to a final draft to be presented to the fifth review conference of the Convention, due to the opposition of one State.  The fifth review conference had also been unable to issue its final declaration because one State had proposed terminating the Working Group, despite the will of the majority.  He rejected the imposition of unilateral policy.  The best means to achieve the goal of strengthening the Convention was through the Working Group, which would prepare a binding instrument.

AHMAD HAJIHOSSEINI, Organization of the Islamic Conference, said he was following with interest the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Central Asia and the Middle East.  Such zones were positive developments, and he hoped that they would lead to complete nuclear disarmament in the world.  Referring to the Middle East, he regretted the fact that Israel remained the only obstacle standing in the way of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  In that regard, his organization had adopted a resolution urging all States, especially nuclear-weapon States, to exert pressure on Israel to accede to the NPT.  It had also called on the international community, especially the Security Council, to compel Israel to implement IAEA resolutions and subject its atomic facilities to the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguard system.

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For information media. Not an official record.