First Committee Forwards 15 Drafts to General Assembly for Adoption on Nuclear and Other Mass Destruction Weapons, Conventional Arms, Missiles, Outer Space

31 October 2013
GA/DIS/3491

First Committee Forwards 15 Drafts to General Assembly for Adoption on Nuclear and Other Mass Destruction Weapons, Conventional Arms, Missiles, Outer Space

31 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3491
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

22nd Meeting (PM)

First Committee Forwards 15 Drafts to General Assembly for Adoption on Nuclear

and Other Mass Destruction Weapons, Conventional Arms, Missiles, Outer Space

Texts on Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty,

Nuclear Proliferation Risk in Middle East Draw Intense Debate

Taking up a range of texts spanning clusters on nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction and the disarmament aspects of outer space, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today approved a draft decision that would have the General Assembly include in the provisional agenda of its next session a sub-item on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.

That text introduced by Canada, among 15 approved today, took a recorded vote of 172 in favour to 1 against ( Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Zimbabwe).

Also approved today was a draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, India, Panama, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda).

By its terms, the Assembly would call upon Israel to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without further delay, and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons and place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region.

Prior to approval of the draft as a whole, separate recorded votes were taken on two paragraphs.  Preambular paragraph 5, by which the Assembly would call upon all States not yet parties to the NPT to accede to it at the earliest possible date, was retained by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 4 abstentions (Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan).

Another provision, preambular paragraph 6, would have States not party to the Treaty to accede to it and thereby accept an international legally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices and to accept Agency safeguards on all their nuclear activities.  That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 2 against ( India, Israel), with 4 abstentions ( Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region, by which the Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned to seriously consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish such a zone.

The Committee took three recorded votes on the resolution, entitled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world:  accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitment”.  The text was approved as a whole by 165 in favour to 7 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, India, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, China, Federated States of Micronesia, Pakistan, Palau).

A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 9, which, among other measures, would have the Assembly urge India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States.  It was retained by a recorded vote of 161 in favour to 5 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, France, United Kingdom).

By another provision, operative paragraph 11, the Assembly would urge all States to work together to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery and to immediately implement the three specific recommendations of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan.  That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against ( Israel, Russian Federation, United States), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom).

Also during the cluster on nuclear weapons, the Committee took recorded votes to approve drafts on follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations; a convention for the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons; reducing nuclear danger; and negative security assurances.

Acting without a vote in that cluster, the Committee approved drafts on missiles, the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, and the prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes.

The Committee approved without a vote the three draft resolutions in its weapons of mass destruction cluster, on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Of the two draft resolutions in the cluster on disarmament aspects of outer space, the Committee approved one on preventing an outer space arms race, by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions ( Israel, United States).  Among its terms, the Assembly would call upon States with major space capabilities to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an outer space arms race and to refrain from actions contrary to the objective.

During action on Cluster 1, Nuclear Weapons, the following delegations made general statements:  Cuba; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and Venezuela.

Representatives of the following delegations spoke in explanation of vote on that cluster:  Australia; Brazil; Canada; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Egypt; France; India; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Japan; Lithuania; New Zealand; Pakistan; Spain; Switzerland; and the United States.

During action on Cluster 2, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, the representatives of Cuba, India, Iran, Pakistan and Syria made statements in explanation of vote.

During action on Cluster 3, Outer Space, the representative of Cuba delivered a general statement.

During Cluster 4, Conventional Weapons, the representative of the Netherlands introduced a draft resolution transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/68/L.30).  Also on that cluster, the representatives of Egypt, New Zealand, Libya, Morocco and the Russian Federation made general statements, as well as the representative of the European Union Delegation on behalf of a number of countries.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 1 November, to continue taking action on its draft texts.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it, across the whole spectrum of its agenda items.

Cluster 1 on Nuclear Weapons, General Statements

Speaking before the voting on cluster 1, YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ (Cuba) said her delegation had co-sponsored a number of draft resolutions in that cluster, namely “L.21” on a nuclear weapons convention, “L.49” on negative security assurances and “L.20” on reducing nuclear danger.  Some 17,000 nuclear weapons were still deployable worldwide, which underscored the need to launch negotiations to conclude a convention on nuclear weapons that prohibited the possession, development, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use of those weapons, and which provided for their elimination. The security assurances so far were ineffective, and before the total elimination of nuclear weapons, negative security assurances were necessary.

She reaffirmed the need to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions of the world as a tangible step towards the end objective of general and complete disarmament.  In particular, she reaffirmed solid support for the prompt establishment of such a zone in the Middle East and said the lack of compliance in the convening of that conference was unacceptable.  The establishment of a zone in that region would be a significant contribution and a primordial step in ensuring that the peace process was successful.

Also speaking before voting, KIM JU SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) expressed deep concern over “L.35” concerning a fissile material cut-off treaty, as it contained provisions that allowed for the pursuit of negotiations outside the Conference on Disarmament, which was the appropriate venue for consideration of disarmament issues.  Any attempt to take negotiations away from the Geneva-based Conference would undermine its authority and confidence.  Canada, the draft’s sponsor, had a record of behaving irresponsibly.  The major problem facing the Conference on Disarmament was a lack of political will for countries to deal with the core issues. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would therefore abstain from the vote on “L.35”.

ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI ( Venezuela) fully supported all resolutions in cluster 1, and emphasized the text on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He deplored the non-compliance with the decision to convene, in 2012, a conference for that purpose and reiterated that that had been a significant component of the final outcome of the 2010 Review Conference.  He called on the relevant parties to ensure that the conference was convened as soon as possible.  He also highlighted the importance of the resolution dealing with the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and called on any nuclear-weapon State in the region to abide by the provisions of the relevant resolutions adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Security Council and the outcome document of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference.

Action on Cluster 1

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.2”, the representative of Israelsaid that every year he questioned the motivation behind that text.  He could not help but wonder whether the distance between New York and the Middle East had grown “unnaturally”.  There was no question regarding the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and Israel consistently pointed to that danger. It seemed to require no great cognitive powers to discern that.

The fundamental challenges to Israel’s security, he said, cast a “dark shadow” on the possibility of embarking on a meaningful peace process.  States exploited the “automatic majority” that existed against Israel.  Israel expected that with a resolution concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the international community would closely look at the cases of Iran and Syria, which were under ongoing investigation by the IAEA, owing to clandestine activities in contravention of their IAEA obligations.  Those countries had been the subject of numerous resolutions, and at the minimum, Israel would expect a call for compliance with their national non-proliferation obligations.  Those countries chose to ignore Security Council resolutions.

On “L.2”, he said that adopting such an ill-motivated and unbalanced resolution that singled out Israel in a biased manner would not serve the greater objective of curbing proliferation in the Middle East and would not be consistent with the behaviour of existing States with a true interest in regional security. He called on delegates not to “play into the hands” of those who wished to divert attention from the real problems of the Middle East and to instead vote against that resolution.

Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of the United States said he would vote “no” on “L.2”, as his country believed that, again this year, the text failed to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance, but rather confined itself to criticizing the activities of a single country.  The most glaring omission remained the lack of any reference to Iran’s violation of the IAEA obligations and the failure to cooperate fully in transparency with the IAEA.  Achieving universal adherence to the NPT was an attainable goal, provided that peace and security in the region could be strengthened by building the confidence necessary to designate a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.  A good start had been made recently, and the delegate hoped that the parties could proceed to a conference on the issue at the soonest possible time.  The pursuit of resolutions such as this one, year after year, however, did nothing to prepare for a conference or for peace in the region.

Iran’s representative, also speaking before the vote, said he wished to explain his position regarding the draft on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Such a zone was proposed by Iran in 1974, and since then, the General Assembly had uninterruptedly adopted resolutions endorsing that proposal.  Through such resolutions, the Assembly had recognized that the zone’s establishment would greatly enhance regional as well as international peace and security. It was of great concern that, despite repeated calls by the international community, in particular by the IAEA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Review Conference of the NPT, as well as successive summits and conferences of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Israeli regime had not acceded to the NPT.  Nor had any progress been made so far in the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.

He said that the possession of a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, a clandestine nuclear weapons programme and the unsafeguarded nuclear facilities of the Israeli regime was the only obstacle to the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that “volatile region”.  In order to pave the way for the establishment of that zone, as a first step, Israel should eliminate all of its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon party without further delay or preconditions.  To avoid additional negative consequences of delay in holding the conference, its co-conveners must exert utmost pressure on the Israeli regime to participate without any precondition.  What was expected from the conference was not merely a gathering of regional countries but an agreed plan of action and timetable for universalizing the NPT in the Middle East, which should be the summit’s high priority.

The representative of Pakistan , regarding “L.35”, said that the establishment of a Group of Governmental Experts on a fissile material cut-off treaty was an ill-advised move.  The Group would add no value to deliberations on such a treaty but would undermine the Conference on Disarmament.  The mandate of the Group could be better accomplished in the Conference.  Changing the format or the venue could not overcome the reasons for the stalemate.  A majority of Member States had said that nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority.  Indeed, nuclear disarmament had become “overripe” as it had been going on for three decades.  In line with its consistent position to not be a party to any move that undercut the Conference, Pakistan had decided not to join the Group.  Such a Group would be “stillborn”, and Pakistan would vote against the draft decision.

The representative of Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union Delegation regarding resolution “L.2” on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, said he intended to vote in its favour.  The Union strongly supported the outcome of 2010 Review Conference in that regard and stood ready to further support the process for a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and it fully supported preparations for a successful conference.  He called on all States to urgently and proactively engage with the facilitator so that a conference could be convened as soon as possible, and he likewise called on all States in the region to accede to the NPT, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, as well as the IAEA safeguards and Protocols.

Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes and Syria’s non-compliance and non‑cooperation with the IAEA were of concern, he continued.  Iran persisted in violation of the IAEA and relevant Security Council resolutions.  At the latest meeting of IAEA Board of Governors, the European Union had expressed its concerns in that regard.  The Agency had been unable to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran was intended for peaceful purpose.  Taking note of the joint statement by the IAEA and Iran of October 2013, he said the Union looked forward to swift implementation of practical measures regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.  At the same time, it respected Iran’s legitimate right to peaceful use of nuclear energy in conformity with appropriate instruments and supported the efforts of the “E3+3” with regard to that country.

It was regrettable, he added, that despite the IAEA resolution regarding Syria, it had not complied with its obligations.  He urged Syria to enable the Agency to carry out verification as soon as possible.  Syria itself was responsible for cooperating urgently in that regard.

The Committee then moved to take action on the draft resolution, introduced by Egypt, on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document A/C.1/68/L.1), approving it without a vote.

By its terms, the General Assembly would urge all parties directly concerned seriously to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.  It would call upon all countries of the region that had not yet done so, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution, introduced by Egypt on behalf of the League of Arab States, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East(document A/C.1/68/L.2).

Emphasizing the need for all parties to take practical and urgent steps to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, that text would have the Assembly call upon Israel to accede to the NPT without further delay.  It would also call on that State not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce the possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope Agency safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

A recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 5, which would have the Assembly recall the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, in which universal adherence to the Treaty was urged, and called upon all States not yet parties to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest possible date, particularly those States that operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 160 in favour to 2 against ( India, Israel), with 4 abstentions ( Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan).

A recorded vote was also requested on preambular paragraph 6, which would have the Assembly recognize that the 2000 NPT Review Conference had called upon States not party to the Treaty to accede to it, thereby accepting an international legally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices and to accept Agency safeguards on all their nuclear activities.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 2 against ( India, Israel), with 4 abstentions ( Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan).

That text was then approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, India, Panama, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda).

Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft decision, sponsored by Iran, on Missiles (document A/C.1/68/L.8).

Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution, also sponsored by Iran, on the Follow-up to Nuclear Disarmament Obligations Agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/68/L.11).

By its terms, the Assembly would call on States to reduce their nuclear arsenals, increase transparency, further reduce non-strategic nuclear weapons, further reduce the operational status of nuclear-weapons systems, decrease the role for nuclear weapons in security policies and engage in the process leading to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.  That text would also have the Assembly urge NPT States parties to follow up on the implementation of their Treaty obligations as agreed at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.

A recorded vote was requested on preambular paragraph 6, which would have the Assembly reaffirm the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and the importance of universal adherence to the Treaty and placement of nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 116 in favour to 5 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Palau, United States), with 49 abstentions.

A recorded vote was also requested on preambular paragraph 9, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption by the 2010 Review Conference of a substantive Final Document containing conclusions and recommendations for follow‑on actions relating to nuclear disarmament.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 5 against ( Canada, France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States), with 46 abstentions.

That text was then approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 52 against, with 7 abstentions ( Armenia, China, India, Pakistan, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Rwanda).

The Committee then took action on the draft resolution entitled Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Accelerating Implementation of the Nuclear Disarmament Commitments(document A/C.1/68/L.18).

A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 9, which would have the Assembly emphasize the fundamental role of the NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and call upon all States parties to spare no effort to achieve its universality, and in that regard, urge India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States promptly and without conditions, and to place all of their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 161 in favour to 5 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan, United States), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, France, United Kingdom).

A recorded vote was also requested on operative paragraph 11, which would have the Assembly urge all States to work together to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery and to immediately implement the three specific recommendations of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan.  It would also urge the Conference to commence without delay its substantive work to advance the agenda of nuclear disarmament.

That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against ( Israel, Russian Federation, United States), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom).

That text was then approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 7 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, India, Israel, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, China, Federated States of Micronesia, Pakistan, Palau).

Next, the Committee approved the draft resolution on Reducing Nuclear Danger (document A/C.1/68/L.20) by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 49 against, with 11 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines as well as for immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, including through de‑alerting and de-targeting nuclear weapons.  It would also request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures towards the implementation of the above.

The Committee then moved to approve the text on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/68/L.21), which would have the Assembly reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations in order to reach agreement on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

It was approved by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 49 against, with 9 abstentions ( Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).

Next, the Committee approved the text on a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (document A/C.1/68/L.35) by a recorded vote of 172 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Zimbabwe).

That draft would have the Assembly include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-ninth session, under the item entitled “General and complete disarmament”, the sub-item entitled “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”.

A draft for an African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (document A/C.1/68/L.46), which, among other provisions, would have the Assembly call upon the African States parties to the NPT had not yet done so to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive waste (document A/C.1/68/L.48), by which the Assembly would express grave concern regarding any use of nuclear wastes that would constitute radiological warfare and have grave implications for the national security of all States, and to call upon States to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe upon the sovereignty of States.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution, introduced by Pakistan, on the Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/68/L.49) by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to none against, with 58 abstentions.

The representative of Pakistan, explaining his country’s vote on “L.2”, said he supported the primary purpose of that resolution, but references within it were “lopsided”.  It was an “unrealistic goal” for Pakistan to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State since it was a nuclear-weapon State.  His delegation had therefore voted “yes” on the resolution as a whole but had abstained in the vote on preambular paragraphs 5 and 6.

He said he had abstained from “L.11”, on follow-up to the NPT Review Conferences, because it did not agree with its terms.  As a non-party to the NPT, Pakistan was not bound by the Treaty.  Notwithstanding that, he remained fully supportive of nuclear disarmament

On “L.18”, he said it was unrealistic to call on Pakistan to accede to the NPT.  Therefore, his delegation had voted against the resolution, and abstained from the votes on operative paragraphs 9 and 11.

The representative of Egypt, explaining his country’s vote on resolution “L.35”, said he had always considered a fissile material treaty an important step. However, recalling resolution 67/53 of 2012, he said that Egypt had maintained that the text did not adequately meet the basic requisite to include stockpiles of fissile material and lacked operative language that contributed to general and complete disarmament.  That said, Egypt welcomed the Group of Experts to make recommendations that could contribute to a fissile material treaty ban.  Egypt was keen to contribute substantively to its deliberations, with a view to ensure that any such treaty took into account both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The representative of Iraq, explaining his country’s position on “L.35”, said he had voted in favour of that decision, stemming from the belief in the need to arrive at an international treaty that was verifiable and did not discriminate.

The representative of India said that his delegation had voted against preambular paragraphs 5 and 6 of “L.2”.  That resolution should be limited to the region it intended to address.  Furthermore, the call on States remaining outside the NPT to accede to it did not “reflect current realities”.

Turning to draft resolution “L.18”, he said that India was concerned about the threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons, of the view that non-proliferation and disarmament were “mutually reinforcing”.  Nonetheless, India had voted against the draft as well as its operative paragraph 9 since it could not accept the call to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  The resolution “negated the principles of international law”.  There was no question of India joining the Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State given its nuclear status.  Likewise, he had abstained on operative paragraph 11 since it referred to that Treaty’s 2010 Action Plan.

Regarding draft decision “L.35”, India continued to supported negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material treaty.  It had submitted its views on the topic during consideration of General Assembly resolution 67/53.  Negotiations should take place in the Conference, whose work had India’s support.

With respect to draft resolution “L.46”, on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, India, he said, enjoyed friendly and beneficial relations with countries of the African continent and welcomed the successful entry into force of that Treaty.  It would respect the status of that zone as nuclear-weapon free.

The representative of Japan said that his country had voted in favour of “L.49” on negative security assurances since it believed in discussions on that issue pursuant to a world free of nuclear weapons.  But the draft should not preclude discussion in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material treaty as well as other issues.

The representative of New Zealand said that her country had voted “yes” on “L.2” consistent with its belief in a nuclear-weapon-free world.  New Zealand had demonstrated longstanding support of the NPT.  However, she wished to put on record its concern over the absence in the draft of any reference to other States in the Middle East.  Nevertheless, New Zealand supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region and regretted that it had not been possible to convene the conference on that issue.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that operative paragraph 10 of draft resolutionL.18” was unbalanced in singling out his country alone.  The issue was the responsibility of all six parties concerned as enshrined in the six-party talks.  All parties had steps to take to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula.  Denuclearization of the peninsula did not mean unilateral dismantlement on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  There was a process to remove completely all nuclear threats in the region.  Action-for-action remained a basic principle for finding a solution to the nuclear situation.  The United States had defined the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an enemy, however, with the goal of overthrowing his country.  This year, it had carried out large-scale military exercises, and as long as it persisted, his country would continue to bolster its nuclear weapons.

Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Israel said that his country had joined consensus once again on “L.1”.  However, it maintained that the issue could only be realistically addressed within the regional context.  Israel’s policy in the field of arms control was always a pragmatic and realistic approach that addressed the disturbing realities in the Middle East through a step-by-step approach.  That process was inherently an incremental one and could only realistically begin with a modest arrangement for confidence-building measures in order to build stable infrastructure and pave the way for more ambitious undertakings.  At present, no regional dialogue existed in the Middle East, and there was no regional forum to defuse tensions. 

At the same time, he said, the Middle East was undergoing historic and significant transformational change.  That turmoil demonstrated the region’s instability.  There was a continuing threat against the very existence of one State, Israel, with parties that did not accept its right to exist and wanted to “wipe it off the map”.  Despite that, Israel was positively engaged in the European Union seminar on confidence-building measures and other activities towards regional peace and security.  The only way to build confidence and trust was through regional dialogue based on the consensus of all parties involved.

Regarding “L.35” on a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said it was Israel’s longstanding position that prioritizing such an instrument subsumed the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of France , on behalf of the United States and the United Kingdom, said that “L.18”, on a nuclear-weapon-free world was not a new resolution, and those delegations’ reasons for not supporting it were as valid as before.  While he agreed with many elements in the text, it did not reflect an equitable balance among the NPT’s three pillars.  The new changes to the text had led the international community even further away from the action plan and from the consensus-based approach that had underpinned the strength of the NPT, and he regretted that the notion of a step‑by-step approach had also disappeared.

Canada’s representative said that “L.2”, on the risk of nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East, unfairly singled out Israel while failing to address serious non-compliance issues by States in the region that were already party to the NPT.  The resolution was also deficient in that it ignored Iran and Syria’s non-cooperation with the IAEA, whereas Canada was deeply concerned that Iran had failed to comply with multiple Security Council resolutions.  In the case of Syria, it had ample opportunity to cooperate effectively with the Agency, but had refused to do so.  For those reasons Canada had voted against “L.2”.

Explaining his delegation’s position on “L.20”, on reducing nuclear danger, Brazil’s representative said he had voted in its favour but was of the view that the most serious threat to humanity and the survival of civilization was the very existence of nuclear weapons.  In that context, measures such as de-alerting and de-targeting, while relevant, were no substitute for multilateral agreements conducive to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.  On “L.21”, concerning a convention to prohibit those weapons, his delegation had also voted in its favour, despite its well-known position on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons and not merely prohibit their use.

Switzerland ’s representative, speaking in explanation of vote on “L.2” and “L.21”, said he had voted in favour of “L.2”, which promoted the universalization of the NPT in the Middle East, as his delegation fully aligned with that objective.  He supported the Finnish facilitator’s efforts for the prompt convening of a conference in Helsinki as a crucial undertaking.  However, an operative paragraph of “L.2” only referred to one of the aspects of the risk of nuclear proliferation of the Middle East by singling out one State in the region.  The recent use of chemical weapons in Syria showed that it was urgent to address the global objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation in the Middle East.  By voting in favour of “L.2”, Switzerland had thus underscored the importance attached to the implementation, in full, of the commitments derived from the NPT imposed on all States in the region that were party to the instrument.  In that context, full cooperation by all Middle East States, with relevant international bodies starting with the IAEA, was essential.  He hoped that the negotiations process between Iran and the E3+3, launched on 15 October in Geneva, would allow for further progress to be achieved in the Iranian nuclear dossier.

Regarding “L.21” his delegation had not supported that resolution, maintaining its earlier position concerning the absence in the text of any reference to the international non-proliferation regime.  Switzerland remained of the view that a resolution aimed at prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons should contain an appropriate reference to the pertinence and viability of non-proliferation.  Any use of nuclear weapons, be it intentional or accidental, would have catastrophic humanitarian consequence.  Preventing further use of nuclear weapons thus remained a key challenge of the international community in the absence of a legally binding instrument in that field.

The representative of Australia, explaining his country’s abstention from “L.2”, said that his country was committed to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and was a strong supporter of the NPT and other disarmament and non‑proliferation instruments.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones that were freely arrived at by Member States were also welcome, and Australia placed importance on the issue of convening a conference to establish such a zone in the Middle East.  However, Australia believed that all States in the region should adhere to the NPT, and since the text referred only to one country, without making a reference to other risks, it was “unbalanced”.

The representative of Spain, explaining her country’s position after the vote on resolution “L.46”, on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, said that its entry into force contributed significantly to international peace and security.  Spain had always supported that Treaty and maintained close relationships with African countries.  However, after close study, it had decided not to become a party to its Protocol III for several reasons, among them, that it contained no provisions that Spain had not already adopted for its own territory.  In that regard, Spain would work with other delegates to find wording regarding operative paragraph 5 that would be satisfactory to all parties.

The representative of Iran, concerning “L.2”, said that, as in previous years, it had voted in favour of the resolution, which dealt with the most important threat in the region, namely that of the Israeli regime with its large arsenal of nuclear weapons, as well as its non-compliance with international norms and principles.  That was the only obstacle to a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that volatile region.  Against that backdrop, and to achieve the goal of such a zone, the international community had no choice but to exert maximum pressure on the Israeli regime to accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  It was ironic that the United States and Canada, as well as members of the European Union, had kept “deadly silent” on the clandestine weapons programme of the Zionist regime and made baseless allegations against the exclusively peaceful nuclear programme of Iran.  The rationale behind those statements was clear — by making absurd allegations they hoped to divert attention from the Israeli regime’s nuclear weapons and its non-compliance with international law.

Turning to “L.18”, he said that Iran had joined in the consensus adoption of that text, since it was acceptable in that much of the content was in line with the final document of the 2010 Review Conference.  Regarding references to meetings of nuclear-weapon States, as well as bilateral agreements between them, Iran believed that those measures could not substitute for cuts in nuclear weapon arsenals.  Iran called on those States to apply the principle of transparency and to further reduce their arsenals.

Cluster 2: Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

Speaking before the vote, the Committee Secretary read a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General regarding operative paragraph 10 of “L.10”, saying that the financial implications contained therein had been approved.

The Committee then approved that resolution, introduced by Hungary, on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.10), without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would encourage States parties to provide appropriate information on their implementation of article X of the Convention, and to collaborate to offer assistance or training in support of the legislative and other implementation measures of States parties needed to ensure their compliance.

Also without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution, introduced by India, on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.23).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge all Member States to take and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring those weapons, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

Next, the Committee approved without a vote a draft resolution, introduced by Poland, on the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/68/L.32).  That text would have the Assembly 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.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, India’s representative said he had joined consensus on “L.32”, but believed that the resolution did not fully reflect the “balance of points” included in the consensus final report of the Third Review Conference, as had been made clear to the sponsor.  Also, the consultations conducted could have been more comprehensive, and he thus called on the main sponsor to remedy that next year, in order to reflect the views of all Member States, thereby protecting the letter and spirit of the consensus nature of the resolution.

Also explaining his position on “L.32”, Syria’s representativeexpressed thanks to Poland for efforts made in developing the text.  However, the draft’s explicit reference to Syria in its fourth preambular paragraph was selective, referring to a specific incident that was partly covered in the report of the Commission of Inquiry.  It did not mention that the Commission continued its work in connection with all incidents covered in the agreement signed by Syria at the United Nations.  Syria continued to await the final and comprehensive report from the Commission.  Also, Syria objected to a reference in preambular paragraph 6, as the current draft resolution was not exclusively about chemical weapons in Syria.  Thus, the resolution was unduly selective.

The representative of Cubasaid that, as on previous occasions, her delegation had joined consensus on “L.32”.  This time, she had done so in a specific context, but to speak with candour, her delegation was not entirely satisfied with the manner in which that important text had been rendered.  The resolution could have struck a better balance if the proposed amendments had been taken into account.  She deplored that it did not meet the expectations set by the successful outcome of the Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  International cooperation had been one of the most hotly debated issues at that Conference, as had been the need to establish the necessary conditions for the proposed plan of action.  The text, however, was based on selective arguments.

The representative of Pakistan said that “L.32”, on the Convention on Chemical Weapons, said that was an important consensus resolution.  That said, he shared the concerns expressed by other delegations on its overall balance.  Despite his support for the text, the proposal to include a reference to the peaceful use of chemistry had not been taken on board.  That made the draft “lopsided”, which was regrettable.

Turning to draft resolution “L.23”, on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he said Pakistan shared concerns that terrorists and non-State actors might acquire material that could cause mass destruction.  It, therefore, supported the objectives of the draft text, but there was “room to improve it” by making it reflect reality more clearly.  In that regard, terrorists were more likely to use chemical and biological weapons, whereas acquisition of nuclear weapons was much less likely.  That said, the international community must not lower its guard against the threat of a “dirty bomb”.  The Security Council’s “1540” Committee, among other bodies, was useful in that regard.

He said that the best guarantee against the threat or use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons lay in their elimination, and existing instruments could effectively address most of those threats.  At the same time, as long as disarmament proceeded at such a slow pace, the possibility of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists remained.

The Biological Weapons Convention needed to be strengthened through the inclusion of a verification protocol, he said.  Revitalization of that process would address concerns expressed regarding this resolution and elsewhere.

The representative of Iran, also explaining his position on “L.23”, said that as a “main victim of terrorist attacks”, Iran had always supported measures in that field, and indeed, had always supported this resolution.  This year, however, the text contained a reference to so-called “nuclear security summits”, which were closed, selective gatherings, based on the assumption that nuclear weapons should continue to be owned by some countries.  A review of documents from those gatherings showed no single word about disarmament of nuclear weapons.

He said that certain countries discussed significant issues outside the United Nations and then asked for the Organization’s endorsement in order to legitimise them.  Such an approach was inappropriate.  Nuclear security should be addressed in relevant multilateral forums in an open and transparent manner with the participation of all States.  Therefore, while joining the consensus on the draft, Iran dissociated from the paragraph that mentioned “nuclear summits”.

Cluster 3 on Outer Space (Disarmament Aspects)

Making a general statement, Ms. LEDESMA HERNANDEZ ( Cuba) said her country had co-sponsored the draft resolution on prevention of an outer space arms race, “L.41”, as well as the draft resolution on confidence-building measures in outer space activities, “L.40”.  Cuba recognized the common interest of humankind in exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes and believed that an arms race in outer space would pose a serious threat to international peace and security.  The draft texts were a welcome contribution in that regard, as they would ensure greater transparency in space activities.  She stressed the importance of the Conference on Disarmament in developing an agreement on preventing such an arms race.

The Committee then took action on the draft resolution on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/68/L.41), approving it by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions ( Israel, United States).  That text would have the Assembly 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.

Cluster 4: Conventional Weapons

CLARA GANSLANDT, representing the European Union Delegation, made a general statement on this Cluster, also on behalf of Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mexico, Montenegro, Norway, Palau, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago and Turkey.

She said the group would join consensus on the resolutions in Cluster 4.  Over the last weeks those States had joined in attaching importance to the Arms Trade Treaty, which had been the conclusion of a seven-year-long process supported by a geographically diverse range of States.  The Treaty established a robust and effective common and international standard for regulating and improving the international arms trade, provided a new multilateral framework and helped prevent arms from being transferred irresponsibly and illegally.

She said that 154 States had voted in favour of the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, and 114 States had signed it.  When effectively and widely implemented, the Treaty would contribute to more transparent arms transfers and help eradicate illicit trade.  By signing and ratifying, States could sustain the international momentum of the Treaty.  All States for which she was speaking were signatories and had either ratified or had begun that process.

She underscored the importance of the first ever Security Council resolution dedicated to the issues of small arms and light weapons, namely, resolution 2117 (2013).  Small arms and light weapons were most frequently used in armed conflict, victimizing millions of civilians.  Resolution 2117 renewed efforts to tackle the illicit transfers of those weapons and would help to secure peace and stability and reduce human suffering.  Both the Arms Trade Treaty and Security Council resolution 2117 could address a wide range of humanitarian, social and economic consequences, as well as the impact on civilians in armed conflict, including the disproportionate impact of violence against women and children.

HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands) introduced draft resolution “L.30”, entitled “Transparency in armaments”, on behalf of its 66 co-sponsors.  The draft, he explained, would now be tabled every three years instead of every two years, and contained an additional reference welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty.

KATY CROWLEY ( New Zealand) said she would be pleased to join the consensus on draft resolution “L.4”, on the Arms Trade Treaty.  Her country had contributed actively to the effort that had led to its adoption, and although consensus on that text had proved elusive, the overwhelming majority of Member States had supported it.  The Treaty was a crowning achievement in recent disarmament efforts, as well as a necessary step forward, as it moved closer to the shared goal of mitigating the consequences of the illicit trade in conventional weapons.  She hoped that future resolutions could include stronger references to the success of the Treaty.

Also speaking before action on Cluster 4, GIUMA FARES of Libya said that, with respect to draft resolution “L.3”, on the Mine-Ban Convention, his country was not a member of the Mine-Ban Convention and the temporary Government was unable to consider the possibility of signing it at present.  Despite that, Libya shared international concerns pertaining to landmines, owing to the humanitarian tragedies they caused.  Libya itself had had a problem with landmines and explosive remnants of war since the Second World War.  That problem had been exacerbated since Muammar al-Qadhafi’s forces had planted landmines across the country.  In that regard, Libya was grateful to countries for their technical and financial assistance in clearing those mines.  Regarding action on that draft, his delegation would change its voting procedure for the first time, from abstention to a vote in favour.

BOUCHAIB EL OUMNI ( Morocco) said that, in connection with “L.3”, his country had actively contributed to the preparatory process for the Mine-Ban Convention and would continue to support the draft on it, as it had done since 2004.  That was a way to reiterate its support for the “eminently humanitarian” aspects of the Convention.  Highlighting Morocco’s efforts in mine clearance, he emphasized, among other things, his country’s support to others in the region in that regard.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV ( Russian Federation) said that, unlike in previous years, his country would have to abstain from “L.30”, on transparency in armaments, since the preamble made reference to a number of signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty, which had nothing to do with transparency in the field of armaments.  It was also questionable whether the Treaty’s entry into force would lead to greater

transparency.  A simple reading of the relevant articles showed that the Treaty only covered exchange of information between States parties.  Disclosure to the international community was not stipulated.  There were also exemptions whereby States were entitled to refrain from providing information, and there was no doubt that Governments would make use of those.  His delegation’s proposed compromises to the draft resolution, judging by the final version, had been ignored.  Given that, it could not support the draft as it stood.

MOHAMED REFAAT FARGHAL (Egypt) said that, as with Libya, his country had major problems with landmines.  Nonetheless, it would abstain from the vote on “L.3”, in view of the “unbalanced” nature of the treaty, which was developed outside the framework of the United Nations.  Furthermore, the Convention imposed no responsibility on States to remove their mines from other territories, a particular issue in Egypt where mines still remained from the Second World War.  It was imperative to conclude arms control agreements within the United Nations, and not outside.

* *** *

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