3 October 2002


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

5th Meeting (AM)



Just as the world was turning away from the "balance of terror" between the super-Powers, it found itself confronted with a dramatically increased threat of terrorism, an arms control expert for the United States said this morning, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate.

He said that Americans had seen first-hand the havoc terrorists could wreak when armed with knives.  He shuddered to imagine how much more death and destruction they could inflict with weapons of mass destruction.  Now was a time of both great promise and great danger.  It was promising because the two States with the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons by far had decided to dramatically reduce their nuclear forces.  It was dangerous because the spread of mass destruction weapons was increasing and the terrorist attacks against his country had made abundantly clear the threats to be faced if terrorists acquired those weapons.

The representative of the Republic of the Congo stressed that, in the face of the threat of mass destruction weapons, an "imperative necessity" had been thrust upon the world to make every effort to eradicate those weapons.  He had expected real breakthroughs, but instead had witnessed such unfortunate trends as the dizzying increase in global military expenditures and the proliferation of small arms.  Efforts to step up demining were promising, especially for countries like Angola and his own, which were emerging from murderous conflicts and faced the threat of mines all over their territories.

Nigeria’s representative said it was "simply unconscionable" that annual global military spending was at a staggering $850 billion, in a world where hundreds of millions of people earned less than $1 per day.  Hope for a nuclear-weapon-free world was fast being dashed in light of the enormous increase and

qualitative improvement of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems.  That had been further complicated by new threats in the form of excessive accumulations of conventional arms, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the massive deployment of landmines in conflict areas and international terrorism.

Also highlighting recent discussions about the spread of mass destruction weapons and the possibility of their use by terrorists, the Syrian representative said that that danger was not restricted to any specific region.  Nevertheless, some circles were undertaking an unjust campaign against Arab and Islamic

countries, while turning a blind eye on Israel's acquisition of mass destruction weapons, including a huge nuclear arsenal.  If Israel really wanted peace and security, it would subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and join the quest for a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Guatemala, Croatia,  Viet Nam, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Côte d'Ivoire.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 4 October, to continue its general debate.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security.

     A number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements will be under consideration, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and towards that goal, to 13 specific steps.

     The United States has repudiated two of those steps –- support for the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which it withdrew from in June 2002, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it signed in 1996, but its Senate failed to ratify in 1999.  Refusal by the United States to complete the ratification process of the Second Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), which would have eliminated all land-based multiple-warhead missiles, had led the Russian Federation to announce this year on 14 June that it would no longer regard itself as bound by that Treaty.

The START II, signed in 1993, committed both parties to reducing their strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 3,000 to 3,500 each.  Only START I, signed in 1991 and committing the parties to a reduction to 6,000 strategic nuclear weapons each, has entered into force.  The START process was linked to the ABM Treaty, which, for many years, had been widely regarded as the cornerstone of international stability and security.

On 24 May, the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, by which both sides would reduce the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200 by 31 December 2012.  It is significant because it commits two former adversaries with the world's largest nuclear arsenals to reductions of deployed weapons.

The CTBT opened for signature in 1996 and awaits ratification by 13 of     44 States before it can enter into force.  Of those pending, two are nuclear-weapon States -- China and the United States.  The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam.  (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).

Concerns about the accumulation and use of missiles in both their regional and global dimensions will be considered through the United Nations study on missiles, prepared by a panel of governmental experts from 23 countries.  It provides an overview of the current situation in the field of missiles and describes several areas of concern, including missile capability of delivering mass destruction weapons, in particular nuclear weapons.

The role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will also be discussed.  Among its tasks is verifying, through its inspection system, that States comply with their commitments under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.

The Agency's safeguards system comprises extensive technical measures for independently verifying the correctness and completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities.  Since 1992 -- in the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme -- the Board of Governors of the Agency has adopted or endorsed measures to strengthen the safeguards system.  Under a Model Additional Protocol adopted in 1997 that includes short-notice inspector access to any place on a nuclear site, the IAEA has continued to negotiate Additional Protocols with States to strengthen that system by verifying not only declared nuclear material and activities, but also undeclared material and activities.

Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered.  Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).

At the opening of the session on Monday, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala announced that the countries of the Central Asian region -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan  -- had just agreed on the text of a treaty to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia and that the signing should take place as soon as possible.  He also announced a decision by Cuba to accede to the NPT and to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

The programme of action adopted at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York in July 2001, will also be discussed.

Landmines will be considered in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use:  Protocol II of the Convention on the 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), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament; and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), a total ban agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called "Ottawa process", which entered into force on 1 March 1999.

(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3222 issued

27 September.)


ENNY ONOBU (Nigeria) said that, regrettably, hope for a nuclear-free world was fast becoming dashed, as the world continued to witness an enormous increase and qualitative improvement of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.  That had been further complicated by new threats in the form of the excessive accumulation of conventional arms, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, massive deployment of landmines in conflict areas and international terrorism.  Annual global military spending was at a staggering $850 billion, which was "simply unconscionable" in a world where hundreds of millions of people earned less than $1 per day.  That situation called for the urgent implementation of the action Programme adopted at the 1987 International Conference on the Relationship between Disarmament and Development.

He said that new strategic doctrines were being proposed that would not improve the quality of human life, but rather would spark a new arms race whose only relevance was the development or acquisition of a new generation of mass destruction weapons.  He understood the immense feeling of power that the possession of nuclear weapons accorded to those States that possessed them.  He also understood the danger that entailed for all States.  The pervasive presence of nuclear arms, at best, brought the world closer to a possible nuclear accident, if not a nuclear conflagration.  Despite recent efforts towards genuine disarmament, divergent views persisted about the way forward, thus stalling progress on various issues on the disarmament agenda.  Yet, global peace could only be achieved through multilaterally agreed, legally binding agreements, which provided a full monitoring and implementation machinery.

Nigeria was committed to the total elimination of landmines, he said.  In many post-conflict African countries, civilians, especially women and children, could not move around freely for fear of being maimed or killed by landmines.  Available arable land could not be cultivated due to the presence of those weapons, even in the face of hunger and famine.  Their escalating proliferation and indiscriminate use around the globe demanded urgent attention.  He called for further international assistance to support mine action programmes in mine-affected countries and on Member States that had not done so to accede to the Ottawa Convention as soon as possible.  Small arms and light weapons were a major cause of political instability in developing countries, especially in Africa.  In that regard, he reiterated the call by his President for a legally binding international instrument to identify and trace illicit small arms.

LUISA BONILLA (Guatemala) said that disarmament could no longer be discussed without taking terrorism into account.  Resolutions based on reports of the First Committee represented hope for peace and security.  However, they needed to be enhanced through universal participation and implementation.  She called for action against terrorism to be carried out on national, regional and global levels.  She also maintained that it was important for States to work within a multilateral framework.

She acknowledged that the events of 11 September had produced divergent views on how disarmament should be carried out.  She insisted, however, that now was not the time to back away from progress made in that arena.  On the contrary, the best way to guarantee international security was to respect commitments already made in the field of disarmament.  Political will was necessary.

Because the world was becoming so interconnected, she said it was important for States to coordinate their disarmament activities with regional and global initiatives.  The actions of one State, after all, could have repercussions on the entire world.  She called for the international community to unite and ban the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as small arms, light weapons, anti-personnel mines, munitions and all explosive devices.  She called for all legal instruments related to disarmament to be respected and applied rigorously.  In addition, she expressed hope that the feelings that had united the world after 11 September would not diminish. 

VICE SKRACIC (Croatia) said the Conference on Disarmament was deadlocked.  In addition, the chasm between the conflicting demands of not only the nuclear-weapon States themselves, but also between nuclear and non-nuclear States was widening.  He called for a return to common goals and values.  He was worried about the threat of stagnation in the field of disarmament.

Croatia took the issue of disarmament very seriously, he said.  He said his government regularly reported to the United Nations Registry of Conventional Weapons.  It had also ratified Amended Protocol II on mines and other booby traps and Protocol IV on blinding laser weapons of the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention.  Furthermore, he supported proposals for extending the scope of the Convention to internal conflicts.  With respect to the Ottawa Convention, Croatia planned to fulfil its article IV obligation to destroy its stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines on 23 October, 2002.  Other initiatives included a successful “Farewell to Arms” program that encouraged citizens to turn in small arms and light weapons for destruction.

Representing a non-nuclear NPT State party, he called on other such countries to join him in calling on nuclear-weapon States to abide by the obligations they themselves had agreed to implement through the NPT.  He would be co-sponsoring a resolution in that regard and encouraged other non-nuclear NPT States parties to do the same.  He said he would resist initiatives, however, to form a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central and Eastern Europe until it received the support and consent from the other countries of the region.  He added that such support would not be coming soon.  He told sponsors who were proposing such a zone to consult with the States of the region, before once again tabling an unpopular initiative.  With respect to military forces, he said that Croatia, like other States in Central and Eastern Europe, was preparing to downsize.

Before concluding, he criticized members of the Conference on Disarmament for not pushing for expansion.  He reminded delegates that Croatia had been on the waiting list for membership for 10 years, and it seemed that it was no closer to joining the body than when it had first applied.  He urged members of the Conference to not dwell on unresolved problems at the expense of expansion.

BASILE IKOUEBE (Republic of the Congo) said that only collective action would be able to forge the necessary response to the events of 11 September 2001.  In the face of the real threat of mass destruction weapons, an "imperative necessity" was thrust upon everyone to eradicate those weapons and work towards the universality of the various disarmament instruments.  In that context, he was expecting real breakthroughs.  But, today, there was little cause for optimism.  Unfortunate trends existed, such as the dizzying increase in global military expenditures in excess of $850 billion and the proliferation of small arms. 

He urged new life for the Conference on Disarmament, as the only suitable forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations.  The disarmament community should also pay attention to the 2001 Programme of Action on small arms, since that category of weapons was responsible for the major loss of human life recorded around the world.  At the recent meeting of States parties to the Ottawa Convention, it was decided that efforts should be stepped up to achieve the humanitarian goals of the Convention, which affected many peoples, especially in Africa.  In Angola, for example, which was emerging from a murderous war, Angolans today had to face the threat of mines all over their territory.  Congo, a neighbour also emerging from war, attached great interest to that issue.

As president of the Economic Community of Central African States, his country wished to enlighten the Committee about some of the main concerns of the 11 countries in that subregion, he said.  In the face of armed conflicts, waves of refugees and displaced civilian populations, large-scale destruction and the absence of an effective regional organization, the member countries had called for United Nations support.  In May 1992, it set up the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa.  That was aimed at evolving confidence-building measures, encouraging disarmament and promoting development.  In        10 years, it had indeed worked out important confidence building steps, such as the establishment of an early warning system.  That had also led to the creation of a subregional parliament and centre for human rights and democracy. 

He said that the greatest achievement of the Economic Community so far had been the organization of a framework for meeting regularly to discuss specific national, as well as subregional, situations.  Still, there were many murderous conflicts in the subregion and millions of dollars were spent each year to feed those war efforts, which, beyond their humanitarian tragedy, had impeded development financing.  Perpetual war had created a security environment that was hardly propitious for the achievement of development programmes.  That, in turn, led to further conflict and a rise in insecurity.  On the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Standing Committee, the members of the Economic Community recently recommitted themselves to revitalizing their organization, to better promote subregional peace and security.

PHAM THI NGA (Viet Nam) said her country consistently advocated complete and total disarmament, especially with regard to the elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction.  Viet Nam had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, acceded to the NPT, and signed the CTBT.  She was deeply concerned, however, that this year had brought little progress in international cooperation on disarmament.  Nuclear disarmament was the toughest hurdle.  The many steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed upon at the 2000 NPT Review Conference had not been implemented.  All nuclear-weapon States must reaffirm their unequivocal commitment to that Treaty and fulfil their obligations under its article VI. 

She emphasized that the nuclear-weapon States must bear the primary responsibility to halt the development, production, and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.  The signing by the United States and the Russian Federation of the Moscow Treaty was welcome, as was Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT and ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  At the same time, she was seriously concerned about the decision of one nuclear-weapon State to withdraw from the ABM Treaty.  That action contravened the principle of the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament agreements and threatened international peace and security. 

On small arms, she said her country exercised strict control over the manufacturing, stockpiling, transporting and possession of those arms within its jurisdiction.  While her country supported that and other measures aimed at preventing the illegal trafficking in weapons, those should not prevent States from exercising their right of self-defence and security.  Her country also strongly supported the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which would contribute to curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and to regional and international peace and security.  Viet Nam, therefore, acceded to the Bangkok Treaty.  She called on all nuclear-weapon States to ratify the Protocol annexed to that Treaty, in order to demonstrate their serious commitment to the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

ROLAND KPOTSRA (Togo) said that progress towards disarmament had been praiseworthy, but not sufficient.  Within Africa, that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons were of the utmost concern.  They had led to the phenomenon of armed bands of ex-combatants, engaging in criminal activities and threatening stability in countries that were only just emerging from conflict.  He, thus, supported programmes of reintegrating ex-combatants back into society as components of peace-building operations.  He also expressed concern overanti-personnel mines.  The United Nations had reported that production was declining.  Nevertheless, continued work to prevent the production and transfer of mines was still important.

He was pleased that the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa was located in his country.  He did, however, express concern over the fact that it was suffering from a severe lack of funding.  Although it was Africa’s desire to become a self-sufficient continent, he reiterated his gratitude to countries that had offered financial support to the Centre.

He was worried about the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and insisted that nuclear disarmament should be an international priority.  He did not want to see the arms race extended to new areas.  Calling for universal adherence to the NPT, he urged States that had not yet done so to accede to it.  He welcomed Cuba’s decision to adhere to the treaty.  With respect to missiles, he regretted that the ABM Treaty had just been denounced by one of its contracting parties and hoped that an erosion of stability would not occur as a result.  He concluded by saying that in the “post-9/11” world, where even a civilian aeroplane could be used as weapon, it was important for the world to collectively deal with terrorism and security issues.

ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said that the events of 11 September had taught the world two lessons.  First, weapons of mass destruction had the potential of making terrorist attacks infinitely more lethal.  Second, more destructive than any other weapon were “the feelings of resentment, hatred and anger that lay concealed behind all types of conflicts and wars.”  In addition to disarmament measures, therefore, he called for commitments to eliminate the roots of conflict.  Foreign occupation, poverty and ethnic issues provoked conflict and a global increase in arms expenditures had been accompanied by a decrease in spending for economic development programmes.  He called on States to endorse disarmament conventions, such as the NPT and the CTBT.

With respect to the Middle East, he welcomed Iraq’s acceptance of the return of United Nations weapons inspectors.  He criticized Israel, however, as an “occupying State” and maintained that peace and security could never be attained in the region as long as Israel possessed nuclear weapons.  He, therefore, urged the “great influential countries” to pressure Israel to accede to the NPT and subject all its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of the IAEA.  One of his goals was to see a nuclear-weapon-free zone established in the Middle East.  He also demanded that Israel refrain from using non-conventional weapons against Palestinian citizens in the occupied territories.  Turning to South Asia, he urged India and Pakistan to “pursue wisdom” and settle their disputes through peaceful dialogue.

STEPHEN G. RADEMAKER (United States) said "we meet at a time of both great promise and great danger".  It was promising because the two States with by far the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons had decided to reduce their nuclear forces dramatically.  It was a dangerous time, because the proliferation of mass destruction weapons was increasing and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had made abundantly clear the threats to be faced if terrorists gained access to such weapons. 

Not everyone had appreciated the new opportunities presented by the demise of communism in the former Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, he continued.  It was widely predicted, for example, that the ABM Treaty could not be ended without plunging the world into a new arms race.  It had been proved that those predictions were ill-founded.  The ABM Treaty was "amicably terminated" and the United States and the Russian Federation had promptly agreed to implement the largest reduction ever in deployed nuclear forces.  The rapid negotiation of the Moscow Treaty and the accompanying Joint Declaration on the New Strategic Relationship had been made possible by the new strategic framework constructed by United States President George Bush with the Russian Federation.

In a few short months, he noted, the parties were able to record in that formal, long-lasting Treaty the decisions each had made on the reduction of its strategic nuclear warheads:  1,700 to 2,200 by the end of 2012, which was a cut of about two-thirds below current levels and far below the cold war figures.  The Joint Declaration addressed broader aspects of the new strategic framework.  It focused on the closely linked threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, and acknowledged the major improvements in the nature of the United States-Russian strategic relationship.  It established a Consultative Group for Strategic Security, which, with the participation of the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, would permit them to continue to explore ways to enhance transparency and predictability.

Regrettably, just as the world was turning away from the "balance of terror" between the super-Powers, it found itself confronted with a dramatically increased threat of terrorism, he said.  Americans saw first-hand the havoc terrorists could wreak when armed with knives.  He shuddered to imagine how much more death and destruction they would seek to inflict if they chose to use weapons of mass destruction.  Against that fight between civilization and barbarism, the arms control community could strengthen the international framework to prevent those weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or States that supported terrorism, as a matter of national policy.  The possibility of terrorists obtaining possession of radiological material and constructing a radiation dispersion weapon or "dirty bomb" must also be foreclosed.

He urged every country in the world to belong to and fully comply with the provisions of the NPT, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Universal adoption of the IAEA Additional Protocol would provide greater assurance of compliance with the NPT.  Earlier this year, President Bush submitted to the United States Senate his country's Additional Protocol.  Through IAEA safeguards and other means, the international community must sustain efforts to reduce the threat of diversion of nuclear materials, equipment, and technology.  On the Conference on Disarmament, effort by some to hold up progress on a ban on the production of fissile material in an attempt to force negotiations in unrelated areas was a perversion of the consensus role of the Conference.

MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that a culture of disarmament should be promoted.  He called for the reduction of military spending throughout the world.  He also supported confidence-building measures as ways to increase international security.  He expressed satisfaction at the substantial work carried out so far in the realm of disarmament, especially in the sphere of nuclear weapons.  He welcomed the Moscow Treaty, for example, but believed that broader efforts in a multilateral framework would be more helpful.  He cited the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as a scourge affecting many regions of the world, especially Africa.  He, therefore, praised the adoption of a programme of work with respect to curbing that illicit trade.

He said that his Government, as one that cherished peace, was committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes, especially in Africa, which had suffered from both colonialism and the cold war.  He supported a regional grouping of the Maghreb States in which the five members would respect each other’s territorial integrity.

Morocco attached particular importance to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He urged all States that had not yet done so to adhere to the NPT, the cornerstone of the disarmament regime.  He welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to that treaty.  Additionally, he was convinced that nuclear-weapon-free zones greatly contributed to peace and security.  Morocco had signed the Treaty of Pelindaba and supported other nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world.  He was pleased by the possibility of the Central Asian States creating their own such zone.  He wanted to see the Middle East made a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and said it was deplorable that its creation was rejected by only one State in the region, namely Israel.

MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that the Millennium Declaration had reaffirmed the inadmissibility of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction or threatening their use under any pretext.  The international community must strive to eradicate them.  It was most important not to allow double standards or "playing around" with the destiny of peoples under different guises.  While some were denying the right of a people to defend their dignity, land and their right to self-determination, those same parties were allowing others to stockpile all forms of weaponry, both heavy and light, and to manufacture their own nuclear weapons.

Highlighting recent discussions about the seriousness of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and the possibility of their use by terrorists, he said that danger was not restricted to any specific region.  Yet, some circles were undertaking an unjust campaign against Arab and Islamic countries, while turning a blind eye on Israel's acquisition of mass destruction weapons, including a huge nuclear arsenal.  Israel had also rejected the appeal to rid the region of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  If it was really seeking peace and security, both regionally and internationally, it should join the quest for such a zone, and subject its nuclear facilities to full-scope IAEA safeguards, as all other Arab and Islamic countries in the Middle East had done. 

He said he welcomed Cuba's announcement to accede to the NPT.  His country supported the convening of a fourth special session on disarmament, in order to review and evaluate implementation of the conclusions of the first such session held in 1978.  He also recalled the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  On transparency in armaments, he reaffirmed the position of the Arab Group of States about the need to expand the Register of Conventional Arms to also include weapons of mass destruction, taking account of the situation in the Middle East with respect to Israel's acquisitions.

KOUAME GUESSAN (Côte d'Ivoire) said that on 18 and 19 September, his country had been the victim of a violent aggression.  The strategic towns of Cote d'Ivoire had been attacked by terrorists, causing a loss of life and material destruction.  The ministers of state and the interior, as well as army officers, were among the victims.  It had been thought initially that it was a mutiny by the army, but the methods and diversity of the nationalities of the assailants, as well as their statements to the foreign media, had led to the understanding that it had been a terrorist attack, designed to overthrow a democratically-elected government.

He said that group had had considerable financial means and had enrolled young people from the towns they had held hostage.  Among the captured assailants were some military men who had deserted from the army in 2000 and sought refuge abroad, as well as mercenaries from neighbouring English- and French-speaking countries.  In its continuing effort to stabilize the country, the new Government had won the support of the international community, which had welcomed the work done to organize a forum for national reconciliation.

That forum had led in August to the establishment of a Government that had taken into account the diversity of political beliefs, he recalled.  Economically, efforts by the Government had resulted in a reduction of the negative growth rate.  In the struggle against poverty, the country had been eager to become a master of its own fate, thereby loosening the grip of those "shadowy hands" that had tried to topple the Government.

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For information media. Not an official record.