Time Now Opportune for Nuclear-Armed States to Take Effective Disarmament Measures to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, by 1 of 12 Drafts Approved in First Committee

27 October 2010
GA/DIS/3423

Time Now Opportune for Nuclear-Armed States to Take Effective Disarmament Measures to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, by 1 of 12 Drafts Approved in First Committee

27 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3423
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

First Committee

20th Meeting (PM)

Time Now Opportune for Nuclear-Armed States to Take Effective Disarmament Measures

to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, by 1 of 12 Drafts Approved in First Committee

Committee Sends Other Texts to General Assembly for Adoption on Biological,

Chemical Weapons, Prevention of Outer Space Arms Race, Illicit Arms Trafficking

A vigorous nuclear disarmament text recognizing that “the time is now opportune for all nuclear-weapon States to take effective disarmament measures to achieve the total elimination of these weapons at the earliest possible time” was forwarded to the General Assembly today, 1 of 12 draft resolutions approved by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

Aiming to reign in the nuclear weapon threat, the draft, approved by a vote of 107 in favour to 44 against, with 20 abstentions, would have the Assembly urge the nuclear-armed States to commence plurilateral negotiations among themselves at an appropriate stage on further deep reductions of nuclear weapons as an effective measure of nuclear disarmament.  It would urge them to carry out further reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process.

The Assembly would also urge those States to stop immediately the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, and, as an interim measure, to de-alert and deactivate immediately their nuclear weapons and to take concrete measures to reduce further the operational status of their nuclear-weapon systems.

In a further provision of that wide-ranging text, the Assembly would call on the nuclear-armed States, pending the achievement of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, to agree on an internationally and legally binding instrument on security assurances of non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

Prior to the vote on the draft as a whole, a recorded vote was requested on the text’s operative paragraph 15, by which the Assembly would call for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

The Committee retained that paragraph by a vote of 135 in favour to 22 against, with 8 abstentions ( Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan).

The Committee also approved, by a vote of 144 in favour to 3 against ( France, United Kingdom, United States), with 22 abstentions, a draft resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems.

Recalling that the maintenance of nuclear weapons on high alert was a feature of cold war nuclear postures, and welcoming the increased confidence and transparency since the cessation of the cold war, the Assembly would, by that text, call for further practical steps to be taken to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status.

A separate vote was taken on operative paragraph 1, by which the Assembly would welcome the adoption by consensus of the Eighth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions, including the commitments of the nuclear-weapon States to promptly engage with a view to, inter alia, consider the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States in further reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons systems in ways that promoted international stability and security and looked forward to the nuclear-weapon States’ report in terms of that undertaking to the NPT Review Conference Preparatory Committee in 2014.  The paragraph was approved by a vote of 145 in favour to 1 against ( United Kingdom), with 18 abstentions.

Prevention of an arms race in outer space was the subject of a draft approved by a vote of 170 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions ( Israel, United States).  The Assembly, stressing that the growing use of outer space increased the need for greater transparency and better information on the part of the international community, would call on States to contribute to the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.

Deeply concerned about the magnitude of human casualty and suffering, especially among children, caused by the illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons, the Assembly would call on the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to take action to combat the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, according to a draft approved without a vote on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on information on confidence-building measures on the field of conventional arms.  The text would have the Assembly, considering the important role that confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms can play in creating favourable conditions for progress in the field of disarmament, encourage Member States to continue to adopt confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms and to provide information in that regard.

The following additional resolutions were approved by recorded votes:  measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol; and implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved two draft resolutions on other weapons of mass destruction:  on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction; and on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.

It also approved, without a vote, draft resolutions on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and another on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba); and Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons).

Explanations of vote were made on draft texts considered yesterday under Cluster 1 (Nuclear weapons) by the representatives of Germany, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Iran, Cuba, Syria, United Kingdom, China, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Australia and United States.

General statements on Cluster 1 on drafts on today’s schedule were made by the representatives of Spain and Cuba.

Explanations of vote on drafts acted on today in Cluster 1 were made by the representatives of Pakistan, India, Israel and France (on behalf of United Kingdom and United States).

General statements on Cluster 2 (Other weapons of mass destruction) or introductions of draft texts were made by the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), United Republic of Tanzania and Iran.

Explanations of vote were made by the representatives of India, Pakistan and Iran.

A general statement on Cluster 3, (Outer space, disarmament aspects of) was made by the representative of Cuba.

A general statement on Cluster 4 (Conventional weapons) was made by the representative of Norway.

Explanations of votes were made by the representatives of Cuba, Republic of Korea, Libya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The representatives of Malta, Germany, Norway, Greece, Montenegro, Italy, France, Serbia, San Marino, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Monaco, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia, Nigeria, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan spoke on procedural matters.

The representatives of Syria and Egypt exercised rights of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 28 October, to continue taking action on all disarmament and security-related draft resolutions.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to continue taking action on draft resolutions and decisions before it.

Explanations of Vote on Cluster 1:  Nuclear Weapons

The representative of Germany, speaking on draft resolution L.10, on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, said his country supported the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones as a contribution to the global non-proliferation regime.  It, therefore, welcomed the establishment of such a zone in Central Asia, but decided to abstain from the vote to show its disappointment over the outstanding issues regarding that Treaty.   Germany called upon all the concerned countries to consult and to resolve those outstanding questions.  It welcomed the recent declarations in that regard and hoped to see progress in the future that would allow it to support the resolution.

The representative of Brazil, speaking on draft resolution L.26, on a nuclear weapons convention, said that his country had voted in its favour even though its position was well known on the need, not merely to limit nuclear weapons, but to eliminate them completely.  The 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference had noted in its final document that the final phase of non-proliferation should be pursued within an agreed legal framework.  The majority of countries believed that that should be within a specified timeline.  Such an approach constituted the necessary way forward for disarmament.

He said he had voted in favour of draft resolution L.27, on reducing nuclear danger, because it believed that nuclear doctrines must be reviewed in order to reduce the risk of accidental use of nuclear weapons.  However, it was the mere existence of those weapons that posed the most serious threat to mankind.  In that case, de-alerting the weapons, while relevant, could not be a substitute for their total elimination.

On draft resolution L.33, on a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons, Brazil had voted yes because it considered that commencing negotiations on a treaty banning fissile materials for nuclear weapons, as called for in operative paragraph 1, did not prejudge the outcome of negotiations.  Those negotiations should take into account other aspects related to fissile material. Brazil believed that any treaty on fissile material served the objective of non-proliferation.

He added that Brazil had abstained from the vote on draft resolution L.43, on united action towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, because of the introduction of a new operative paragraph 12, which seemed to suggest that the unilateral statements by nuclear-weapon States in 1995 exhausted multilateral approaches on the issue of negative assurances. Brazil did not believe that those statements were sufficient.  His country would like the draft text, in line with 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference, to support the immediate negotiation within the Conference on Disarmament of effective arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States of the non-use or non-threat of use of nuclear weapons against them.

The representative of Israel spoke in explanation of his country’s vote on draft resolutions L.1, on establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and on L.48, on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Israel had joined the consensus on L.1, despite its concerns and substantive reservations about certain elements within it.  Israel believed that there was the need to build a common vision of peace in the Middle East and that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation could only be realistically addressed in a regional context.  The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region should begin with confidence-building measures, followed by the establishment of peaceful relations among the countries of the region.  That process could, in due cause, lead to more ambitious goals.

In the Middle East, the delegate said, the proliferation realities posed a continuing threat to the existence of Israel due to the irresponsible behaviour of certain States in the region, as well as other States that exported weapons of mass destruction to the region.  The international community should always bear in mind that the majority of non-compliance cases with the NPT had taken place in the Middle East.  Thus, the basic prerequisite for reaching the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free zone did not exist in the Middle East.   Israel had not abandoned the hope that that the region could become nuclear-weapon-free.  However, that needed to be reached through an inclusive process in which all states of the region would take part.   Israel would continue to dedicate its effort to the achievement of that environment.

Turning to draft resolution L.48, he said that his country had decided to vote in its favour because of the importance it attached to the CTBT, but it had strong reservations on the text’s preambular paragraph 6.  The CTBT and the NPT were not one and the same, and that distinction should be preserved.  The draft resolution could undermine the NPT and its goals.  Israel appreciated the significant progress on the CTBT, but that regime still required effort.  For Israel, the regional security situation in the Middle East was a major consideration for its ratification of the CTBT.  The verification regime of the Treaty needed to be robust in order to detect abuse.  Israel’s status in the policy-making organs for the Treaty should be addressed and sovereign equality must be assured.

The representative of Japan, speaking on draft resolution L.5, on negative security assurances, said that his country had voted in its favour, but that the draft resolution should not prejudge discussions in the Conference on Disarmament.  States should demonstrate flexibility in the Conference and advance work on the fissile material cut-off treaty and other substantive issues.

Turning to draft resolution L.10, on a nuclear-weapon-free Central Asia, he said that he was speaking on behalf of eight delegations that had voted “yes”, including Austria, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malta, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland), welcomed the entry into force of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, which was the first such zone in the northern hemisphere and which covered areas where nuclear weapons had previously existed.  Those countries welcomed continued consultations on the Treaty and expressed their readiness to contribute in that vein.  They also welcomed the announcement by the United States to continue consultations to allow it to join the Treaty’s protocol.

The representative of Iran said he had supported both L.1 and L.3, respectively, on establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  The General Assembly had constantly endorsed a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Yet the “Zionist regime” remained the only impediment to such a zone.  By pursuing unproductive policies, certain nuclear-weapon States were hindering efforts, and certain countries of the European Union and Canada had further hindered progress.

He said that that regime should be forced to eliminate all of its nuclear weapons, to accede to the NPT and to place all its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision.  Approval of L.1 showed the majority of the international community’s position.

The representative of Cuba, on L.43 and L.48, respectively, on united action towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), said her country had maintained a clear position on disarmament and the need for action to be taken to reach that goal.  Her delegation had abstained from voting on L.43 because the text lacked substance in view of the end goal.  The text, including controversial new elements, did not reflect Cuba’s proposals.

On L.48, she said Cuba had always supported the resolution on the CTBT, however, in this year’s text, operative paragraph 5 was not acceptable.  She was concerned about the lack of progress among nuclear-weapon States in eliminating their arsenals.

The representative of Syria said the delegation had abstained from voting on L.48 because his country had underlined that a treaty of such importance could not ignore the legitimate concern of non-nuclear-weapon States — the overwhelming majority in the world — which were not offered guarantees against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  The text did not include such a commitment from nuclear-weapon States to dismantle their arsenals or to provide negative security assurances.  Furthermore, the text was limited to banning nuclear tests, without banning the development of new weapons.

The representative of the United Kingdom said her country had abstained from voting on L.25, on a nuclear-weapon free world:  accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments.  She said that, at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, agreements on, among other things, non-use of nuclear weapons were, in the United Kingdom’s opinion, part of a new agenda in the field.  However, she was disappointed that a number of resolutions focused on disarmament only.  If 2000 was the year of the 13 steps, then 2010 was the year of the three pillars.  She would also have liked to have seen in the resolutions that “all” States would contribute to making the world safe and secure.

The representative of China, speaking on draft resolution L.33, on a fissile material treaty, said that his country had voted in its favour.   China supported the negotiation of such a treaty and had always said that the Conference on Disarmament was the only place to conclude one, in which all sides could participate.  It supported concluding that “good” treaty through “good” negotiation at the Conference, on the basis of a comprehensive work plan.  That meant intergovernmental negotiations based on the rules of procedure of the Conference.  A good fissile material cut-off treaty meant one that all sides could eventually join.

On the draft resolutions on nuclear disarmament, (L.25, L.43, and L.22, the latter text to be voted on today, he noted that his country had always advocated the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  It believed in going ahead with disarmament effectively so as to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.  As a result, it was in favour of L.22.  It was also in favour of the purposes and goals of L.25 and had voted in its favour.   China, however, believed that some of the text could be improved.  Some elements went beyond the provisions of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Measures should be gradually implemented in accordance with the agreement reached at that Review Conference.

On L.43, he said his country did not support its operative paragraph 9 on the declaration of a moratorium on the production of fissile material.  It had therefore voted against that paragraph and had abstained in the vote on the resolution as a whole.

He said that China would vote in favour of draft resolution L.22, but that the country believed that it was important that any measures should abide by the two important principles, namely that of maintaining global stability and not harming the security of countries, and ensuring that intermediate steps were implemented at the right time and under the right conditions in nuclear disarmament.  The goal should be the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

The representative of Venezuela, speaking on draft resolution L.43, said that as party to the NPT and the CTBT, that country had voted in support of the draft text.   Venezuela acknowledged that the draft was part and parcel of efforts in support of multilateral non-proliferation, which should involve the United Nations and bring about steps leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  It was not sufficient to bring about general and complete disarmament, and the present text was diluted if compared to the one that had been adopted last year.  Important references had been deleted.   Venezuela also expressed reservation about the reference to the Nuclear Security Summit.  There had been limited attendance to that event, which discussed major issues in a way that excluded many Member States.  The draft resolution should be looked at so as to make it more comprehensive in order to appeal to more delegations in future.

The representative of Kazakhstan, said that on preambular paragraph 5 of draft resolution L.3, his country had voted in favour, but it was recorded as an abstention.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on draft resolution L.43, said that his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution, although it was aware of two weaknesses.  First, its operative paragraph 12 on negative security assurances had been drafted in a manner reflecting Security Council resolution 984 (1995) as a satisfactory basis, while failing to mention legally binding assurances as had been adopted by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Also, the draft did not mention the urgency of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as had been the case at the NPT Review Conference.   Egypt, however, supported other important elements in that draft and had decided to vote in its favour this year.

The representative of Australia, speaking on L.3 and L.26, the latter concerning a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, said his country was committed to a goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Australia endorsed the convening of a conference in 2012 on a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  However, he had abstained from voting because the text did not include all the nuclear threats in the region.

He said that L.26 called on the Conference on Disarmament to start discussions on a nuclear weapons convention, but did not mention a treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or the imperative of the early entry into force of the CTBT, which was one of the steps towards furthering the nuclear disarmament process.

The representative of the United States said her country, on L.25, had engaged in consultations with sponsors.  However, she had been unable to reach agreement on changes that would have made the text acceptable to the United States.  The United States voted against the resolution because it did not further its aims by singling out Israel.  The text did not contain the balance found the 2010 NPT Review Conference document.  While her country had voted “no” on the text, and on operative paragraph 12, she anticipated further dialogue on those and other issues.

General Statements on Cluster 1

JAVIER GIL CATALINA ( Spain ) expressed happiness at seeing the Pelindaba Treaty enter into force and said that the country would make the necessary effort to support the States parties to acquire the capacity to implement it.  Spain had studied the invitation to sign the Treaty’s protocol, but had decided not to proceed.  The Treaty did not contain any provision or guarantees which Spain had not already adopted.  It had signed up to and observed a number of measures which went further than the treaty.  Secondly, the Spanish territory had been demilitarized of nuclear weapons since 1996.  Consequently, it had already taken all the steps in order for the contents of the Treaty to be applied throughout its territory.  It had joined the consensus since the draft resolution was introduced.

YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba), speaking on draft resolution L.22, said that the text would contribute to nuclear disarmament, which could not be constantly postponed.  The goal should be for the process to culminate in the total and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, with a legally binding and irreversible timetable.  Until that occurred, there needed to be legally binding security assurances granted to non-nuclear-weapon States.

The Committee took up a draft resolution on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/65/L.22), which would have the General Assembly stress the importance of the 13 steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to achieve the objective of nuclear disarmament leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as agreed to by the States parties in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  The draft would also have the Assembly recognize the important work of the 2010 Review Conference and express that its plan of action was an impetus to intensify work aimed at beginning negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention.

Further to that wide-ranging text, the Assembly, seized of the danger of the use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, in terrorist acts and the urgent need for concerted international efforts to control and overcome it, would welcome and encourage the efforts to establish new nuclear-weapon-free zones in different parts of the world, including the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, on the basis of agreements or arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the regions concerned. 

The draft resolution would, among other things, have the Assembly urge nuclear-weapon States to commence plurilateral negotiations among themselves at an appropriate stage on further deep reductions on nuclear weapons as an effective measure of nuclear disarmament.  The Assembly also urge those States to carry out further reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process.  The Assembly would call for the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, multilateral andinternationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissilematerial for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

The Assembly would urge nuclear-weapon States to stop immediately the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, and, as an interim measure, to de-alert and deactivate immediately their nuclear weapons and to take concrete measures to reduce further the operation status of their nuclear-weapon systems, while stressing that reductions in deployments and in operational status could not substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons.

Further terms of the text would have the Assembly call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake the step-by-step reduction of the nuclear threat and to carry out effective nuclear disarmament measures with a view to achieving the total elimination of those weapons within a specified framework of time.  It would also have the Assembly call upon nuclear-weapon States, pending the achievement of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, to agree on an internationally and legally binding instrument on a joint undertaking not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and calls upon all States to conclude an internationally and legally binding instrument on security assurances of non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

The Assembly would also, by the draft, call for the conclusion of an international legal instrument or instruments on adequate security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, for the early entry into force and strict observance of the CTBT, and for the convening of an international conference on nuclear disarmament in all is aspects at an early date to identify and deal with concrete measures of nuclear disarmament.

A separate recorded vote was taken on operative paragraph 15, concerning the call for the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

The Committee decided to retain that provision by a vote of 135 in favour to 22 against, with 8 abstentions ( Georgia, Guinea Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan).

The draft resolution as a whole was approved by a vote of 107 in favour to 44 against, with 20 abstentions.

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems (document A/C.1/65/L.42).  Recalling that the maintenance of nuclear weapons on high alert was a feature of cold war nuclear postures, and welcoming the increased confidence and transparency since the cessation of the cold war, the Assembly would, by the text, call for further practical steps to be taken to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status.  The draft would have the Assembly urge States to update the General Assembly on progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

A separate recorded vote was taken on operative paragraph 1, by which the Assembly would “welcome the adoption by consensus of the Eighth Review Conference of the NPT of “conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions” including the commitments of the nuclear-weapon States to promptly engage with a view to, inter alia, consider the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States in further reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons systems in ways that promote international stability and security and looks forward to the nuclear-weapon States’ report in terms of that undertaking to the NPT Review Conference Preparatory Committee in 2014”.

The Committee decided to retain that provision by a vote of 145 in favour to 1 against ( United Kingdom), with 18 abstentions.

The draft resolution as a whole was approved by a vote of 144 in favour to 3 against ( France, United Kingdom, United States), with 22 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (document A/C.1/65/L.54).  Considering that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, the Assembly, by that text, would enhance the security of Africa and the viability of the African nuclear-weapon-free zone and call upon African States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. 

The representative of Malta said his country had co-sponsored L.42.

The representative of Pakistan, speaking on draft resolution L.22, said that his country had consistently supported the goals contained in the draft resolution.  It shared the view of several elements contained in the resolution, but felt that it also contained an unnecessary reference to the NPT.  As a result, Pakistan had abstained in the vote on the draft resolution as a whole.  Its operative paragraph 15 referred to the NPT.   Pakistan’s position on that matter was known and unambiguous.  That was why it had decided to vote against the text.

He said Pakistan was in favour of the draft resolution on decreasing the operational status of nuclear weapons, L. 42.  Actions in that regard should be based on reciprocity.  His country had proposed a strategic restraint regime in South Asia.  As non-member of the NPT, his country’s support for the draft resolution should not be taken as an endorsement of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The representative of India, speaking on draft resolutions L.22, L.44, and L.54, said that on L.22, India attached the highest priority to nuclear disarmament.   India had been constrained to abstain from the vote on L.22 because of the reference to the NPT, on which its position was well-known.  That should not be construed as India’s lack of support for nuclear disarmament.

On L.42, he said that India had been sponsoring a resolution on reducing nuclear danger for more than a decade.  When the text of L. 42 was first introduced, India had supported it because of the congruence.  Despite the “no” vote of some States for the Indian resolution, India had voted in favour of L.42 as a process of de-legitimizing nuclear weapons.  It had abstained on its operative paragraph 1 because it was not party to the NPT and was, therefore, not bound by the outcome of the NPT Review Conference.

On L.54, he said that India respected the sovereign choice to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of agreements freely arrived at by the States of the region concerned.   India enjoyed friendly and beneficial relations with countries of Africa and conveyed its greetings top them on the successful entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty.   India would respect the provisions of that Treaty.

The representative of Israel, speaking on draft resolution L.54, said that his country had joined the consensus, owing to its support for the Middle East evolving into a nuclear-weapon-free zone based on arrangements freely arrived at by the States of the region.  The African zone had been established through that process.  It was strange that Egypt, which was pushing for such action in the Middle East, had refrained from ratifying the African treaty.  He hoped that the States of the Middle East would learn from the other regions.

The representative of France, speaking on draft resolutions L.42 and L.54, on behalf of his country, the United Kingdom and the United States, said that those countries continued to disagree that the current level of alertness of their nuclear weapons increased the risk of their use.  The operational readiness was maintained at a level consistent with the current security needs.  In reflection of that, they had already decreased the alert level since 1996 and the weapons were no longer targeted against any States.  Those steps had reduced the value of further de-alerting them.  The relationship between the alert level and security was a complex one.  Those weapons were subjected to rigorous oversight to avoid accidental use.  In addition, the countries would like to see greater emphasis placed on all States possessing nuclear weapons, and not just those that were party to the NPT, as that would ensure more security.  In that way, all States would contribute to the shared objective.

The three countries had joined consensus on the Pelindaba Treaty text, he went on.  In a few days, the parties to the Treaty would meet in Addis Ababa.  That was a way to strengthen the Treaty’s implementation.  The Treaty’s protocols stipulated that nuclear-weapon States should agree not to use nuclear weapons against the States parties.   France and the United Kingdom had complied by signing all the protocols. The recent announcement by the United States to begin the process towards signing it was a promising gesture.

The following representatives said their votes on operative paragraph 15 of L.22, on nuclear disarmament, should have registered “yes”:  Germany, Norway, Greece, Montenegro, Italy, Serbia, San Marino, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Monaco, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, and Latvia.

The representative of France said the delegation would like to register an abstention on operative paragraph 15.

The representative of Slovenia said he had voted properly, but he requested a reissue of the vote.

General Statements on Cluster 2

DESRA PERCAYA  (Indonesia), speaking on behalf the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced draft resolution L.12 on measures to uphold the Geneva Protocol, saying that the Movement would continue to make efforts for the effective prevention of the use of chemical weapons.  The draft resolution reasserted strong support for the protocols against the use of chemical and biological weapons.  It reaffirmed the critical necessity of upholding the provisions of the protocols.  The Non-aligned movement commended the non-governmental organizations that had worked and promoted opinion on those weapons.  It hoped that the draft resolution would get wide support in the Committee.

Action on Drafts

The representative of Iran, speaking on draft resolution L.29 on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, said that having been a victim of terrorist acts, his country had always supported measures to confront terrorism.  It had supported that resolution since its first introduction, but the draft this year contained a reference to the Nuclear Security Summit, a closed selective meeting.  A thorough review of the documents of that gathering did not show that that it had tackled nuclear disarmament.  The nuclear-weapon State hosting the meeting had gone outside the United Nations to draft a document and then bring it to the United Nations.  Thus, while joining the consensus, Iran dissociated itself from the paragraph on that summit.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution, on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) (document A/C.1/64/L.20), which would have the Assembly call upon States parties to the Convention to participate in the implementation of decisions reached at the Sixth Review Conference.  The draft text would also have the Assembly urge States parties to continue to work closely with the implementation support unit in fulfilling its mandate. It would also have the Assembly note the proposal to hold the Preparatory Committee Meeting of the Seventh Review Conference of the Convention in April 2011 and the Seventh Review Conference itself in Geneva in December 2011.  It would request the Secretary-General to render the necessary assistance and provide such services as might be required for that Review Conference and for its preparations.

The Committee approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution, on the 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.1/64/L. 23), by which the Assembly would stress the importance to the Convention that all possessors of chemical weapons, chemical weapons production facilities or chemical weapons development facilities, including previously declared possessor States, should be among the States parties to the Convention, and welcome progress to that end.  It would stress that the full and effective implementation of all provisions of the Convention, including those on national implementation (article VII) and assistance and protection (article X), constituted an important contribution to the efforts of the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The Assembly would further 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.  It would reaffirm that the Convention’s provisions should be implemented in a manner that avoided hampering the economic or technological development of States parties and international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the Convention, including the international exchange of scientific and technical information, and chemicals and equipment for the production, processing or use of chemicals for purposes not prohibited under the Convention.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution, on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/C.1/64/L.29), which would have the Assembly call upon all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and appeal to them to consider early accession and ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  By the draft, the Assembly would also urge Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (document A/C.1/65/L.12), which would have the Assembly recall the long-standing determination of the international community to achieve the effective prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical and biological weapons as well as the continuing support for measures to uphold the authority of the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925.

The draft text would also have the Assembly renew its call to all States to strictly observe the principles and objectives of the Protocol, and call on those States that continued to maintain reservations to the 1925 Geneva Protocol to withdraw them.

The Committee approved the text by a recorded vote of 168 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions ( Israel, Marshall Islands, United States).

The representative of Pakistan said, on L. 29, that States should undertake national measures, however, in order to prevent weapons of mass destruction from reaching terrorists, there was a need to eliminate those weapons.  A global strategy was needed.  The international community should also consider the causes of terrorism.

The representative of Iran said he had voted in favour of L.23, on the Chemical Weapons Convention, but was concerned that certain States were delaying in destroying those arms.  He called for all States to comply with the Convention.

The representative of the United Kingdom said her vote on L.12, on the Geneva Protocol, should have been recorded as an abstention.

Making a general statement on Cluster 3: Outer Space (disarmament aspects of), YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba) said that an arms race in outer space would cause grave danger to the world.  The draft resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/65/L.2) was a tremendous text containing elements that would help.  However, the Conference on Disarmament should play a major role in preventing an outer space arms race.

The representative of Uzbekistan asked to be listed among the co-sponsors of L.2

The Committee then took up draft resolution L.2, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, sponsored by Egypt, which would have the General Assembly, stress that the growing use of outer space increased the need for greater transparency and better information on the part of the international community and call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.

By a further term of the text, the Assembly would, among other things, urge States conducting activities in outer space, as well as States interested in conducting such activities, to keep the Conference on Disarmament informed of the progress of bilateral and multilateral negotiations on the matter, if any, so as to facilitate its work.

The Committee approved the text by a vote of 170 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions ( Israel, United States).

Making a general statement on Cluster 4: Convention Weapons, HILDE JANNE SKORPEN ( Norway) said she supported L.8, on implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention) and hoped others would too.

In an explanation of vote before the vote on that draft, the representative of Cuba said her country would abstain.  Cuba was a State party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) and the protocol that pertained to anti-personnel mines.  Cuba had been subjected to aggression from the world’s super-Power and had to defend itself.  She joined the call, however, for all States able to do so to provide assistance to other States to help remove mines.

The representative of Republic of Korea, also on L.8, said that that important Convention played a central role in alleviating human suffering.  However, due to the unique position on the Korean peninsula, his country was unable to join the instrument.  Therefore, his country would abstain from voting on that draft.  The Republic of Korea supported the banning on landmines, and had joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including Protocol V.  In addition, his Government had contributed since 1993 more than $7 million in mine removal projects.

The representative of Libya said his country would abstain from voting on L.8 because international instruments did not take into account the security needs of some States, among other things.  Incomplete studies through the Mine-Ban Convention had deprived States of less expensive ways of defending their borders.

The Ottawa Convention should be revisited if it was to be an effective instrument.  States should also have assistance and compensation for mine clearance.  As it stood, the Convention was not balanced.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo said that his country was a co-sponsor of draft resolution L.8, on the Mine-Ban Convention.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that during the general debate, he had invited Member States to use rats to detect anti-personnel mines.  That technology had been developed by his country and a Norwegian non-governmental organization.  He was reiterating that call.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution, on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them (document A/C.1/65/L.11).  It expressed deep concern about the magnitude of human casualty and suffering, especially among children, caused by the illicit proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons, and contained a number of provisions aimed at combating that scourge.

The draft, sponsored by Mali on behalf of the States members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), would, among its other terms, call on the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to take action to combat the illicit small arms and light weapons trade.  It would invite the Secretary-General and those States and organizations in a position to do so to provide assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in those weapons and collecting them.  The text would also have the Assembly encourage the international community to support implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/65/L.8), which would have the Assembly renew its call upon all States and other relevant parties to work together to promote, support and advance the care, rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of mine victims, mine risk education programmes and the removal and destruction of anti-personnel mines placed or stockpiled throughout the world.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would also urgeall States to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level and, where in a position to do so, to promote adherence to the Convention through bilateral, subregional, regional and multilateral contacts, outreach, seminars and other means.

The draft would also have the Assembly, noting with regret that anti-personnel mines continue to be used in some conflicts around the world, causing human suffering and impeding post-conflict development, stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the Cartagena Action Plan 2010-2014.

The Committee approved the text, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 155 in favour to none against, with 18 abstentions.

The Committee took up a draft resolution on information on confidence-building measures on the field of conventional arms (document A/C.1/65/L.31).  The text would have the Assembly, considering the important role that confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms could play in creating favourable conditions for progress in the field of disarmament, encourage Member States to continue to adopt confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms and to provide information in that regard.

The draft would also have the Assembly welcome the establishment of the electronic database containing information provided by Member States, and request the Secretary-General to keep the database updated and to assist Member States, at their request, in the organization of seminars, courses and workshops aimed at enhancing the knowledge of new developments in this field.

The Committee approved the text without a vote.

The Committee took up a draft resolution on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (document A/C.1/65/L.44), which would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties, as soon as possible.  It would have the Assembly call on all States to take all measures to become parties to the Convention.  The draft also expressed support for the work conducted in 2010 by the Group of Governmental Experts of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention to continue its negotiations to urgently address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations.

The Committee approved the text, as orally revised, without a vote.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Syria , speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that there was global consensus that the only true global nuclear threat resided in the Israel.  That country’s means of delivery for those weapons could reach far outside the Middle East.  Those who rejected that evident fact would like to open argument with suspicious intent that they were keen to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in the region.  The representative of Israel had made false claims at a time when his country had refused to comply with United Nations resolutions for decades.  It had refused to accede to the NPT and to subject its facilities to IAEA safeguards.  Those who hid that fact were the ones who supported its transgression in possessing nuclear weapons and impeding the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.  That 2010 NPT Review Conference had mentioned Israel by name as one of those that impeded the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.

He said his country regretted to have to listen to what confirmed an alliance with Israel in the statement made by Belgium on behalf of the European Union.  Casting doubt on Syria’s cooperation with IAEA was out of place, provocative and protected Israel’s proliferation in the Middle East.   Belgium was not in a position to criticise others.  Other European countries did not comply with the NPT because of the presence of nuclear weapons on their territories.   Syria preceded many of them in acceding to the NPT and it was committed to its provisions and to the comprehensive safeguards completed with the IAEA.  It had welcomed IAEA inspectors and was in full adherence to its safeguards.   Israel had attacked and destroyed a building under construction in Syria which had nothing to do with nuclear activities.  That required that that aggression be clearly condemned, especially as the IAEA considered that it had undermined its ability to verify the nature of the building.   Belgium should give its opinion on that aggression if it was interested in international law.  Many European countries had assisted, and were assisting, Israel in developing its nuclear programmes, which had military applications.  Making fabricated claims about that building had no credibility, especially as they had been made many months after the Israeli aggression.

On Canada’s statement, the representative of Syria said that it had confirmed concerns about that country as the “defenders of the devil”.   Canada should review the IAEA reports about Syria’s positive cooperation with it. The state of nuclear hypocrisy that had dominated the statements of the representatives of some countries did not push the issue of non-proliferation forward.

The representative of Egypt, responding to statements by the representative of Israel implying inconsistency by his country for not signing the Pelindaba Treaty, said that his country had earlier made a statement on that matter.  He encouraged Israel to avoid weak rhetorical statements and to engage in efforts to address, on the basis of equal security for all, the issues of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  That goal could not be served by refraining from joining the NPT or by activities that would be a factor in generating an arms race in the region.  The outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference represented a valuable opportunity for all countries, including Israel, to further a more secure Middle East.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.