TEXT URGING NEGOTIATIONS ON FISSILE MATERIAL TREATY APPROVED BY DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE

GA/DIS/3291
4 November 2004

TEXT URGING NEGOTIATIONS ON FISSILE MATERIAL TREATY APPROVED BY DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE

04/11/2004
Press Release
GA/DIS/3291

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Committee

22nd Meeting (AM)


Text urging negotiations on Fissile Material Treaty

 

approved by Disarmament Committee

 


The General Assembly would urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a programme of work that included the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, according to one of threedrafts approved this morning by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).


That draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 2 abstentions (Israel, United Kingdom), as the Committee continued taking action on all draft resolutions and decisions.  (For details of the vote, see Annex I.)


The Committee has organized its draft texts into subject “clusters”, and this morning it approved texts in its clusters on nuclear weapons, other disarmament measures, and international security.


Explaining her negative vote on the fissile material cut-off treaty draft, the representative of the United States said that, while her country stood behind the idea of such an instrument, its experts had decided that effective verification would not be possible.  Since verification was central to the draft at hand, she had therefore been forced to vote in opposition.


Having abstained from the same vote, the speaker from Israel said non-compliance with international treaties and the unchecked dissemination of sensitive materials had become among the most pressing nuclear non-proliferation challenges facing the world today.  However, instead of adequately addressing such challenges, a fissile material cut-off treaty could actually complicate them.  In that regard, he called for a new effective non-proliferation arrangement pertaining to the nuclear fuel cycle.  Focusing on his own region, he added that issues related to nuclear disarmament could only be dealt with after achieving lasting peace and reconciliation.


By two texts approved without a vote this morning, the Assembly would express its appreciation to all parties that had implemented the recommendations made in the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation, and call upon all States to continue to take measures to help prevent conflicts in South-Eastern Europe.


The Committee will meet again at 9:30 a.m. Friday, 5 November, to finish taking action on all draft texts.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue and possibly conclude action on all draft resolutions and decisions on disarmament and international security.  It had before it texts related to clusters dealing with nuclear weapons, disarmament machinery, other disarmament measures, and international security.


Expected to be acted on under cluster 1, which concerns nuclear weapons, is a draft on the Conference on Disarmament decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The Committee is also expected to take up three draft resolutions from cluster 7, disarmament machinery.  All three deal with improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee.


From cluster 8, other disarmament measures, action is expected on a draft resolution on the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation. The Committee is also expected to take action on a draft from cluster 10, which concerns international security.  That text concerns the maintenance of international security in South-Eastern Europe.


Draft Summaries


Cluster 1


A draft resolution on the Conference on Disarmament decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a non-discriminatory, multilateral, internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/59/L.34) would have the Assembly urge the Conference to agree on a programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on such a treaty, under the conviction that such a treaty would be a significant contribution to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, CzechRepublic, Germany, Grenada, Ireland, Kenya, Luxembourg, Morocco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and Turkey.


Cluster 7


By a draft resolution sponsored by the United States on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (document A/C.1/59/L.1), the Assembly would decide to adopt seven measures to better the body’s operation.


First, the Assembly would limit the number of studies commissioned by the Committee to one per year.  Second, it would set a numerical limit on the number of draft resolutions and decisions tabled each year.  Third, it would introduce resolutions traditionally adopted by consensus only on a biennial or triennial basis.  Fourth, it would institute automatic “sunset” provisions for all the United Nations activities generated by the Committee.


Fifth, the Assembly would consolidate reports initiated by the Committee with other reports on related issues that the Secretariat was required to produce. Sixth, it would elect the Committee’s full Bureau one year in advance.  Finally, it would work towards improving the accuracy of projections related to the programme budget implications and increasing the advance notice provided to Member States regarding the financial implications of draft resolutions and decisions.


A draft resolution sponsored by Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, also on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (document A/C.1/59/L.13), would have the Assembly request Member States to elect the Chairman and other members of the Bureau at least three months before the meeting of the session.


By further terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to hold more interactive debates and urge them to submit draft resolutions in a more concise and action-oriented manner.  The Assembly would also invite Member States to consider the biennialization or triennialization of the Committee’s agenda items, on a voluntary basis, and in particular when no specific action is required to be taken for the implementation of the relevant resolutions.


The Assembly would further recommend that the Committee hold more informal consultations, with the participation of all interested Member States for furthering discussions on draft resolutions.  It would also urge the Committee to continue its existing methods of work in clustering its agenda items as a means of facilitating the thematic discussions and action on the draft resolutions.


The draft resolution would also have the Assembly consider that any change in the disarmament agenda and machinery, including the Committee, shall be made in the context of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.


A third draft on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (document A/C.1/59/L.60), sponsored by Indonesia, would have the Assembly invite Member States to consider the biennialization or triennialization of the agenda items discussed in the First Committee, on a voluntary basis, and particularly when no specific action was required to be taken for implementation.


It would also invite Member States to continue to hold interactive debates based on a programme and format elaborated through informal consultations between the Bureau and Member States in advance of each Committee session, and to submit draft resolutions in a more concise, focused and action-oriented manner and, where practical, to consider the possibility of submitting draft decisions.


By a further term, the Assembly would recommend that the respective sponsors of draft resolutions hold informal consultations, both before and during Committee meetings, with the participation of all interested Member States for furthering discussions on draft resolutions already submitted or yet to be submitted to the Committee.


Under a related provision, it would encourage Member States to introduce draft resolutions on related or complementary issues to find commonalities in the language and purpose of those draft resolutions, and invite Member States to consider pursuing mergers of such texts through consultations with all sponsors.


Cluster 8


By the terms of a draft resolution on the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/C.1/59/L.53/Rev.1) the Assembly would express its appreciation to the Member States, the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations, which, within their purview, implemented the recommendations made in the United Nations study, as discussed in the report of the Secretary-General.


It would also convey, once again, those recommendations to Member States, the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations and encourage them to report to the Secretary-General on steps taken to implement them.  In addition, it would request the Secretary-General to prepare a report reviewing the results of the implementation of the recommendations and possible new opportunities for promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education and to submit it to the General Assembly at its sixty-first session.


The draft resolution is sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, Estonia, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and Ukraine.


Cluster 10


According to a draft resolution on the maintenance of international security -- through good-neighbourliness, stability and development –- in South-Eastern Europe (document A/C.1/59/L.55/Rev.2), the Assembly would call upon all States the relevant international organizations and the appropriate organs of the United Nations to respect the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States and the inviolability of international borders.


The Assembly would also call upon all States to continue to take measures in accordance with the Charter and the commitments of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and through further development of regional arrangements, as appropriate, to eliminate threats to international peace and security and to help to prevent conflicts in South-Eastern Europe, which could lead to the violent disintegration of States.


Under a further term, the Assembly would call upon all participants in the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, as well as all concerned international organizations, to continue to support the efforts of the States of South-Eastern Europe towards regional stability and cooperation so as to enable them to pursue sustainable development and integration into European structures, taking also into account trans-Atlantic relations.


The Assembly would also call upon all States and relevant international organizations to contribute to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), on Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as of Security Council resolutions 1345 (2001) of 21 March 2001 and 1371 (2001) of 26 September 2001, and emphasize the importance of the standards review process, of the implementation of the “Standards for Kosovo” document endorsed by the Security Council in its presidential statement of 12 December 2003, and of the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan of 31 March 2004.


By additional provisions, the Assembly would reject the use of violence in pursuit of political aims, and stress that only peaceful political solutions could assure a stable and democratic future for South-Eastern Europe.  It would also urge the strengthening of relations among the States of South-Eastern Europe on the basis of respect for international law and agreements, in accordance with the principles of good-neighbourliness and mutual respect.


The Assembly would also urge all States to take effective measures against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and to help promote the collection and safe destruction of surplus stocks of such arms and light weapons. In addition, it would stress the importance of closer cooperation among States, inter alia, in crime prevention, combating terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organized crime and corruption, drug trafficking and money-laundering.


It would also call on all States to intensify cooperation with and render all necessary assistance to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 to bring all at-large indictees to surrender to the Tribunal in line with Security Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004).


The draft resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.


Action on Drafts


The Committee first took up the cluster on nuclear weapons.


The representative of Egypt, in explanation of vote before the vote on the draft resolution on the Conference on Disarmament decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a non-discriminatory, multilateral, internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, said that his country’s support was based on the belief that a convention could be reached and that such a convention would be an instrument to ensure progress toward disarmament.  His country supported the draft resolution and the document adopted by the Conference on Disarmament.  That document stated that such a convention should deal with nuclear disarmament.  That meant that it should extend its scope in order to include fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  The reserves with regard to scope covered reserves on stockpiles of fissile materials.


The Committee then took action on the draft resolution on the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/59/L.34).  The draft resolution was approved by a recorded vote of 147 in favour, to 1 against (United States), with 2 abstentions (Israel, United Kingdom) (Annex I).


Speaking after the vote, the representative of France said he had voted in favour of the draft because he had wished to demonstrate his support for the launch of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  However, he regretted that this year’s text, which was identical to previous versions, had not taken into account relevant developments.  Noting that the draft had always enjoyed consensus in the past, he found it unfortunate that this year the concerns of a number of delegations, which had wished to avoid division in the Committee, had not been taken into account.


The representative of the United Kingdom expressed regret over the fact that he had been forced to abstain from the vote, especially since his delegation had co-sponsored it in previous years.  Acknowledging that he was fully committed to a fissile material cut-off treaty, that such a treaty was already an agreed priority of the international community, and that he would continue to support the effective verification of arms control treaties, he lamented that the draft at hand, as currently worded, had divided the international community at a time when progress should be a prime objective.


The representative of Israel also explained his abstention, which had been made in light of both regional and global concerns.  In the regional context, issues related to nuclear disarmament could only be dealt with after achieving lasting peace and reconciliation, and he had already explained his country’s approach, which had been inspired by other regions, during his explanation of vote on the draft on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  In the global arena, non-compliance with international treaties and the unchecked dissemination of sensitive materials had become among the most pressing nuclear non-proliferation challenges.  However, instead of adequately addressing such challenges, a fissile material cut-off treaty could actually complicate them, he said.  In that regard, he called for a new effective non-proliferation arrangement pertaining to the nuclear fuel cycle.


The representative of the Russian Federation said that his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution on the Conference on Disarmament decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  It was, however, concerned that once again, there had been a need to have a vote on that text.  His Government was ready to begin discussion on the production on fissile materials for nuclear weapons at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on the basis of its mandate.


The representative of the United States, also on the draft resolution on the fissile material treaty, said that her country supported negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosives devices.  Such a treaty would contribute to disarmament.  The United States had, however, concluded that effective verification of such a treaty was not achievable.  Since the draft resolution called for effective verification, her country must, as such, vote in opposition.


The Committee then turned to the cluster on disarmament machinery.  The Chairman announced that two draft resolutions on improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee (documents A/C.1/59/L.1 and A/C.1/59/L.13) had been withdrawn and were being replaced by another draft resolution of the same title (document A/C.1/59/L.60).  The Chairman then proposed that the Committee dispense with the 24-hour rule in order to take up the new draft text.


The representative of the United States said that his delegation was not in a position to waive that rule.  He added that his country had joined as a co-sponsor of the new draft text.


The Committee decided to take up the draft resolution at its next meeting.


The Committee then took up the draft resolution on the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education (document A/C.1/59/L.53/Rev.1).


Prior to action, the representative of Mexico introduced an oral amendment to the draft’s fourth operative paragraph, which would have the Assembly “request the Secretary-General to utilize electronic means to the fullest extent possible in the dissemination, in as many languages as feasible, of information related to that report and any other information that the Department for Disarmament Affairs gathered on an ongoing basis in regard to the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations study.”


The amendment would add the word “official” before “languages”.


The draft as a whole, including the amendment, was approved without a vote.


The representative of Albania, in a general statement on the cluster on international security, said that his country had the intention of co-sponsoring the draft resolution on maintenance of international security through good-neighbourliness, stability and development in South-Eastern Europe, despite its reservations about it.  That had, however, not been possible.  The main sponsor, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, had not held a single consultation to bring together the most interested parties in the region.  Albania had wanted to propose an amendment to the eleventh preambular paragraph in order to improve it. That paragraph was vague and unclear and ran counter to the positive efforts that had been undertaken to counter illicit arms in the region.  He hoped that the situation with the current draft resolution would not be the case in future resolutions.  Because of his country’s reservations, it was not co-sponsoring the draft, but would join the consensus on it.


The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution on maintenance of international security through good-neighbourliness, stability and development –- in South-Eastern Europe (document A/C.1/59/L.55/Rev.2).


The representative of Saudi Arabia, said that he had not been present during the voting on the draft resolution on the treaty.  His country would have voted in favour of the text.


The representative of Egypt said his country had requested that the Committee consider the amount of resources allocated to servicing the Conference on Disarmament.  It had now been able to confirm that that amount was $3.7 million per year.  It was regrettable that the Conference on Disarmament had not agreed on a programme of work for seven years.  The amount allocated to the Conference was more than the amount allocated to the First Committee.  Egypt strongly urged that the Conference agree on a programme of work and hoped that it would meet substantively this year.


ANNEX


Vote on Fissile Material Treaty


The draft resolution on the Conference on Disarmament decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/59/L.34) was approved by a recorded vote of 147 in favour to 1 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  United States.


Abstain:  Israel, United Kingdom.


Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Honduras, Kiribati, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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For information media. Not an official record.