10 October 2002


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)



The threat of force loomed larger than ever in South Asia, manifested by the presence of nuclear weapons and naked threats of military action, which warranted the creation of a new security structure, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today, as it concluded its general debate.

The representative of Pakistan outlined his proposal for a "strategic restraint regime in South Asia", which, among others, would have India and Pakistan:  formalize their respective unilateral nuclear test moratoriums; not operationally weaponize nuclear-capable missile systems; not operationally deploy nuclear-capable ballistic missiles; formalize the understanding to provide prior notification of flight tests of missiles; observe a moratorium on the acquisition, deployment or development of anti-ballistic missile systems; and open discussions on nuclear security doctrines, with a view to forestalling an "all out" nuclear arms race. 

Also from South Asia, the Sri Lankan representative said it would be preposterous to entertain notions that weapons of mass destruction could be used as a means of achieving security.  He stressed that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) could prevent both the horizontal and vertical spread of nuclear weapons and served as a concrete commitment to roll back stockpiles.  There was also an urgent need to ensure that outer space, the last frontier, was used only for non-offensive and non-belligerent purposes.

Israel’s representative told the Committee that effective arms control could only be sustained once wars, terror and non-recognition ceased to be part of everyday life.  Terrorism had touched almost every family in Israel, and terror had become a "strategic weapon" in the Middle East.  Also, small arms had not had small consequences; a people that had lost one-third of its number in living memory could not allow itself to underestimate the killing power of any kind of weaponry.  The region also faced the ever-growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation.

Addressing the Abkhazia/Georgia conflict, the Georgian representative said that the "metastasizing" of “white spots”, or conflict zones beyond the reach of any national or international legal order, had brought the international security to the verge of fragmentation and bred terrorism.  Two separatist regions of his

country -- Abkhazia and the former South Ossetia -- had effectively developed into ethnocratic and terrorist enclaves with increasingly aggressive policies of

militarization, aided by the Russian Federation's unabated proliferation of firearms and ammunition into the area.

Statements were also made today by the representatives of Belarus, Guinea, Ukraine, Chile, Colombia, Armenia, Ghana, Cyprus, Malawi, Philippines, Myanmar, Yemen, Cameroon, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey.

The representatives of Iraq, Lebanon and Israel spoke in exercise of their right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 14 October, to hear the introduction of all draft resolutions and decisions in the category of nuclear weapons.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security.  Next week, the Committee will begin its second phase of work -- the introduction of all draft resolutions and decisions.

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).  With 187 States parties (India, Israel and Pakistan are not party to that Treaty), the NPT is considered a landmark instrument.  Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament in general and complete disarmament.

It was decided at the 1995 Review Conference that the Treaty would continue in force indefinitely.  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.

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 for 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).

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 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 additional information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3222).


ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) voiced his support for the NPT, calling it a key instrument for progress in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to the Treaty and called for the setting up of new nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Attaching special significance to the earliest entry into force of the CTBT, he called upon all States who had not yet joined it to do so.  He also welcomed the signing of the Moscow Treaty and the decision of the United States and the Russian Federation to continue reducing their nuclear arsenals.

With respect to fissile materials, he expressed concern about their production for destructive purposes and called on the Conference on Disarmament to begin discussions on that problem as soon as possible.  He also announced that he had submitted a new draft resolution entitled “Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons”.  He hoped that it would be supported and adopted without a vote.

On small arms, he voiced support for greater transparency in military expenditures and regional confidence-building measures.  He added that his Government regularly submitted data to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  Welcoming the adoption of a programme of action by the United Nations Conference on small arms he said that his Government was taking the necessary steps to prevent and eradicate illegal small arms trafficking.  Additionally, although his country did not produce anti-personnel landmines, he viewed them as a threat to international security.  Lacking the necessary financial and technological resources, his Government had not joined the Ottawa Convention.  It was, however, considering joining in order to receive international financial and technological assistance for demining and stockpile elimination activities.

ALPHA OUMAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the science and technology for weapons, now made available to nearly everyone, was “fat” with the threat of human annihilation.  But, fear had not been able to reverse the reversible.  An effective plan for concerted and agreed action was needed.  The most urgent duty now was to save the world from self-destruction.  In that regard, multilateral cooperation was the most appropriate response.  He deplored the serious misunderstandings that had prevented the Conference on Disarmament from agreeing on its programme of work.  The bloody terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had made utterly clear the urgent need for greater progress in the multilateral disarmament sphere.

He said that the non-proliferation initiatives of the NPT, the CTBT and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START), as well as a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, provided the core elements for achieving international peace and security.  He urged States that had not done so to accede to and ratify the NPT.  Some positive events had included:  the signing of the Moscow Treaty; Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT and to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco; and the announcements made by leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G-8) to raise nearly $20 million over 10 years to sustain implementation of multilateral treaties aimed at non-proliferation.

Noting the presence of some 65 million small arms in global circulation, fueling more than 20 conflicts, he said those arms had made hotbeds of tension more deadly in peacetime.  Thus, national, regional and international measures to combat the illicit traffic of small arms must be strengthened and the    2001 programme of action implemented.  He was pleased at the extension in 2001 of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) moratorium.  Anti-personnel land mines were another scourge, resulting in unspeakable human suffering and impediments to development.  Demining operations in stricken areas must be accelerated.  Unfortunately, funds were currently lacking to improve medical aid to mine victims and assist in their reintegration. 

MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) said that universal adherence to the NPT and CTBT and the enhancement of those treaties’ efficiency remained among the major tasks in the field of disarmament.  He welcomed the signing of the Moscow Treaty and hoped that the United States and the Russian Federation would find further areas of cooperation in the field of anti-ballistic missiles.  Having participated in the implementation of the now defunct ABM Treaty, his Government would be ready to assist in that regard, especially in the context of ballistic missile defence for Europe.  He stressed the need for international multilateral instruments to deal with threats posed by missile proliferation.

He expressed concern that non-State actors had aspirations to gain access to weapons of mass destruction.  He also called on all countries that had not yet ratified or signed the Chemical Weapons Convention to do so as soon as possible, since a complete ban on chemical weapons would enhance international security.  With respect to biological weapons, he supported additional measures to ensure full compliance by the States parties with the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention.  He hoped that the Convention would not be weakened because of the suspension of the negotiations on its Protocol.

On the issue of small arms, he said that joint efforts by the international community were necessary to curb their proliferation.  The adoption of a programme of action by the United Nations Conference on small arms was only a first step.  Its implementation now needed to become more efficient.  Before concluding, he voiced his support for the European Union’s launching of the “Targeted Initiative”, which promoted multilateral instruments, export control, international cooperation and political dialogue as tools for dealing with     non-proliferation, disarmament, arms control and terrorism.

PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka) said he joined those who had reaffirmed the efficacy of multilateral approaches to disarmament as a way of achieving greater security for all.  In that context, the complete and universal elimination of weapons of mass destruction should remain the primary goal of the Committee's work.  Attaining that objective might vary, depending upon the security perceptions and needs of each State.  It would be preposterous, however, to entertain notions that weapons of mass destruction could be a means of achieving security.  Such security doctrines would only lead to further proliferation.

He said the NPT regime remained the cornerstone of multilateral efforts to prevent both horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons and as a concrete commitment to eventually roll back stockpiles.  He welcomed the Moscow Treaty, Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT and ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the growing adherence to the CTBT.  Although the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to do meaningful work in the last several years, that was not the fault of the institution.  As the special coordinator on the improved and effective functioning of the Conference for nearly four sessions, he understood that reform of its procedures was not seen as a panacea for the Conference's substantive ills.

Meanwhile, he said he supported the early establishment of an ad hoc committee in the Conference on the prevention of an outer space arms race.  Foreclosing opportunities for negotiation on that subject now might force the international community to grapple with calls for non-proliferation of belligerent weapons systems deployed in outer space in the future.  The issue of missiles was another priority, and should be approached in a comprehensive, non-discriminatory and balanced manner.  Attempts to deal with the issue must not circumscribe technology transfers for peaceful purposes and should not be designed as selective or discriminatory.

CRISTIÁN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said that multilateralism and respect for the United Nations and other international disarmament organizations were necessary for progress in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  He regretted, however, that negotiations in the field were at an impasse.  That was disturbing, because one of the chief means of guaranteeing international peace and security was the negotiation and entry into force of universal, binding, international instruments to regulate weapons of mass destruction.  He said that his Government had done its part by signing the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement of the IAEA and by signing and ratifying the CTBT.

He described his region as a positive example with respect to non-proliferation.  Because of Cuba’s decision to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Latin America and the Caribbean had now fully established the world’s first inhabited nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He also reminded delegates of the Declaration of South American Presidents, which had created the South American Zone of Peace and Cooperation.  Additionally, his Government had been working hard to promote and implement confidence-building and transparency measures in the Americas.

He voiced support for the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on small arms.  He also mentioned that the first regional experts’ workshop to propose methods of evaluation of the Conference had already been held at the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

JOSÉ NICOLÁS RIVAS (Colombia) appealed for universal accession to the multilateral disarmament treaties and insisted on the explicit prohibition of the use of weapons of mass destruction.  The development of new technologies for those weapons must also be restricted, and it must be ensured that the chemical and biological weapons already in existence did not fall into terrorists' hands.  The best guarantee for that was their total elimination.  The countries that possessed chemical weapons should destroy them and submit detailed plans on that process.  He awaited agreement on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention.

Now, more than ever, it was vital for the international community to assume its responsibilities with respect to the NPT and CTBT, he continued.  He rejected deterrence and strategic alliance doctrines, as well as the doctrine that proposed new uses for nuclear weapons.  General and complete disarmament under effective international control was not a utopia, but a necessity.  Of particular concern was the four-year paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament, which had made it impossible to work on issues recognized as critically important to global security. 

In light of Colombia's own internal conflict, the Ottawa Convention and the 2001 small arms programme of action were of fundamental importance, he said.  Despite some gains made on the former, there was still an urgent need to finally achieve universality, especially the participation of the largest producers of anti-personnel mines.  With regard to small arms, he drew attention to a resolution he would submit, by which the Assembly would decide to convene in July 2003 the first of the biennial meetings stipulated in the programme of action.  He noted the open meeting to be held in the Security Council on 11 October on its role in eradicating the small arms trade.

SHAUKAT UMER (Pakistan) said that in the decade following the end of the cold war, there was a significant retreat from the principle of equal and collective security as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  There was economic integration on the one hand, and fragmentation of security on the other.  While the impact of the former on human welfare was so far mixed, the verdict on the latter “is out and is unequivocal”.  International security must be security for all, underpinned by a global architecture founded on cooperation and concord.  The impulse for the accumulation and brandishing of power to create asymmetrical security equations, regionally or globally, was intrinsically subversive of peace and had been repeated throughout history.

He said that the horrors of war had triggered the vision of a world body acting as the custodian of international peace and security.  Retrenchment of that role would be fraught with irreversible and incalculable consequences.  Inter-State relations, therefore, must return to the fold of the Charter.  Use of force, except strictly in self-defence, was fundamentally repugnant to the Charter.  Yet, the threat of force loomed “larger than ever” in South Asia, which had been described as the most dangerous place on earth.  Nearly one million troops were deployed along the borders and the Line of Control in Kashmir, aimed at forcing Pakistan back from the principled position that disputes between India and Pakistan should be resolved through the application of the Charter, and not the use of force. 

The rejection of that legitimate demand had been accompanied by “naked threats” of military action and pre-emptive strikes, he went on.  It was a monumental irony that aggression was being threatened against a country for urging implementation of Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.  Irresponsible sabre- rattling and threats of aggression should now stop and make way for dialogue.  Continued repression of the Kashmiri people and the organization of electoral charades had not provided the basis for durable peace in South Asia.  A reckless build-up of conventional and strategic weapons to underpin the flawed policy of aggrandizement negated the aspirations of the people of South Asia, including the billion citizens of India itself.  Indeed, “military adventurism”, fuelled by the misplaced and unachievable illusion of supremacy, had already brought the region to the edge of catastrophe. 

He said that the “nuclearization” of the region also warranted the creation of a new security structure.  His Government proposed a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia in which India and Pakistan would:  formalize their respective unilateral nuclear test moratoriums, perhaps through a bilateral treaty; not operationally weaponize nuclear-capable missile systems; not operationally deploy nuclear-capable ballistic missiles; formalize the previous understanding to provide prior notification of flight tests of missiles; observe a moratorium on the acquisition, deployment or development of anti-ballistic missile systems; open discussions on nuclear security doctrines, with a view to forestalling an “all out” nuclear arms race; agree on the non-use of force, including the non-use of nuclear weapons; and agree on a conventional arms balance and a political mechanism for the resolution of disputes.

MOVSES ABELIAN (Armenia) said his country’s geographical position and geopolitical neighborhood had made it difficult to avoid contact with the traffic of weapons, delivery systems and other sensitive materials.  Nevertheless, his Government remained committed to non-proliferation.  In that context, it had rejected the option of developing nuclear energy except for peaceful purposes, and respected IAEA safeguards.

He welcomed the Central Asian States’ efforts to form a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Nevertheless, he insisted that such zones should only be established when a consensus was reached among the concerned States.  Another method for promoting nuclear non-proliferation involved effective systems of export control.  In that regard, his Government was creating a new infrastructure, so that international non-proliferation criteria could merge with national legislation.  Through optimizing the export classification, licensing and reporting processes, his Government hoped to strengthen multilateral cooperation in the field of non-proliferation, without unnecessarily burdening peaceful commerce.

Turning to small arms, he said that curbing their proliferation was a matter of priority.  He was pleased with his Government’s success in establishing strict State control over small arms and light weapons within its territory.  He also welcomed the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention and thanked Canada for leading the worldwide campaign to address the threats posed by anti-personnel landmines.

YAW ODEI OSEI (Ghana) said that the world's effectiveness in dealing with threats to international peace and security lay in forging and sustaining the existing multilateral platform.  Yet, the disarmament machinery continued to grind ever more slowly, with its lynchpin -- the Conference on Disarmament -- failing again to agree on a programme of work.  Of critical importance was banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  The Conference's paralysis must be overcome to accelerate the momentum of negotiations.  That would have a salutary impact on ongoing efforts to universalize the NPT and the biological and chemical weapons Conventions.  In the present uncertain environment, the next session of the Disarmament Commission was an important opportunity to consider new ways and means to achieve disarmament and examine new steps for restoring trust in negotiations. 

He said that the proposal of the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, for establishing an international commission on weapons of mass destruction deserved careful and sober consideration.  Its projected objective examination of problems related to the production, stockpiling, proliferation and terrorist use of such weapons, as well as their delivery means, by a panel of experts would help bring to the fore consideration of latent issues that had recently languished.  Ghana continued to uphold the conclusions of the 2000 NPT Review Conference as relevant to multilateralism in disarmament, and urged the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their commitments in that regard.

Nuclear-weapon-free zones were stepping stones in the nuclear disarmament process and the promotion of international stability, he said.  The menace posed by small arms and light weapons, mainly to developing countries, was a matter of deep concern.  The easy availability of those arms to non-State actors, often procured with the connivance of State actors, had contributed to that phenomenon of their illicit trafficking.  West Africa now faced new threats to its stability with the new conflict in Côte d'Ivoire.  As Ghana fully supported efforts by the United States to curb that illicit trade, he urged Member States to join in the early implementation of the 2001 programme of action on small arms.

YIORGOS CHRISTOFIDES (Cyprus) began by talking about landmines.  An original signatory to the Ottawa Convention, his Government was exerting all its effort to complete the ratification process before the end of the year.  That effort continued, despite the foreign occupation of almost 40 per cent of his country’s territory.  Demonstrating its political will, his Government had participated in mine clearance operations, the refurbishment of existing minefields, and the destruction of stockpiles.  Since 1983, it had cleared ten minefields adjacent to the island’s buffer zone, and during the last two years it had destroyed more than 11,000 mines.  Furthermore, his Government had put forth a proposal to clear minefields within the buffer zone and was determined to proceed unilaterally, in case the Turkish side decided not to cooperate.

Concerned with threats to national security, he recalled the proposal made by President Clerides for the demilitarization of Cyprus, which his Government considered a genuine offer for peace on the island, that proposal called for dismantling of all local military forces, and the withdrawal of all foreign forces and settlers from the territory.  It also envisaged an international force to be stationed there with an appropriate mandate from the Security Council.  He added that his Government, with the assistance of United Nations Peacekeeping forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) had proceeded with the destruction of 4,500 small arms, which had been under United Nations custody since 1972.  That move was aimed at improving the climate of the peace talks and heeding the call to reduce armaments on the island.

Before concluding, he expressed concern over the Conference on Disarmament’s inability to undertake substantive work, especially regarding negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He also expressed his Government’s desire to participate in the Conference.  He expressed the belief that expansion would not hinder the Conference’s work, but would instead give it a new impetus.

ISAAC C. LAMBA (Malawi) said that the 11 September 2001 attacks proved that terrorism constituted a serious new threat to international security.  He also expressed concern over weapons of mass destruction.  He regretted that the 13 measures on nuclear disarmament annexed to the NPT had not been fully implemented.  He hoped that all States with nuclear weapons would strive towards the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Noting the increase of criminal activities in his country, he expressed concern over the illegal use of small arms and light weapons.  In that regard, he looked forward to the adoption of a comprehensive package of far-reaching measures that would aid the international fight against those types of weapons.  He expressed the belief that such arms were preventing political and social stability, as well as economic development.  He, thus, called on States to collaborate with each other and with civil society to address the problem.  Criminals dealing in small arms were flouting the relevant national laws and international treaties too frequently, he said.

Before concluding, he expressed satisfaction with the Ottawa Convention.  He also welcomed Angola as the last member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to join the Convention.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) expressed satisfaction with the following developments in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament:  the signing of the Moscow Treaty by the United States and the Russian Federation; Cuba’s decision to accede to the NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco; the continued increase in signatures and ratifications of the CTBT; and the agreement of the Central Asian States to conclude a treaty to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He also hoped that negotiations with the nuclear Powers on the South-East Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone would lead to its full implementation in the near future.

He then expressed disappointment with what he considered to be examples of the lack of progress made in the multilateral arena of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Specifically, he criticized the fact that the CTBT had still not entered into force, and the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a programme of work and to hold negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty.  He also expressed disappointment with the nuclear weapon States’ lack of commitment to the transparent, accountable and verifiable elimination of their nuclear arsenals, and with the much delayed convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.

Turning to small arms, he welcomed the adoption of a programme of action by the United Nations Conference on small arms.  He recognized, however, that the problem needed to be tackled on a regional basis, since conditions and circumstances varied from region to region.  In that regard, his Government had hosted a regional seminar dedicated to the implementation of the programme of action.  A ceremony, in which over 1,000 small arms and light weapons were destroyed, had taken place in conjunction with the seminar.

REVAZ ADAMIA (Georgia) said that the "metastasizing" of the so-called "white spots" -- zones of conflict, beyond the reach of any national and international legal order -- had brought the international system to the verge of fragmentation with all its consequences, including the creation of havens for breeding terrorism.  That threat was felt in many communities around the world.  The "white spots" were not about the intrinsic nature of some people to resort to violence or terrorism; they were about broken commitments, ill-defined national interests and a residual cold war mentality.  Two separatist regions of his country -- Abkhazia and the former South Ossetia -- had effectively developed into ethnocratic and terrorist enclaves, with increasingly aggressive policies of militarization. 

As a result, a huge amount of armaments, mines and ammunition had accumulated in those territories, he said.  Just three days ago, the former South Ossetia's separatist regime received yet another shipment from the Russian Federation, through the border checkpoint controlled solely by Russian border guards.  Those kinds of shipments never stopped crossing the Russian-Georgian border into Abkhazia, as well.  What the Russian Federation would call "humanitarian aid" was, in reality, a clear case of the unabated proliferation of firearms and ammunition.  On the one hand, there was a commitment by the Russian Federation to prevent illicit arms smuggling, as well as the proliferation of nuclear and other dangerous materials.  On the other hand, that country created conditions prone to those dangers.  The situation in those enclaves of instability posed the threat of nuclear terrorism. 

He said that the conditions for the storage of radioactive materials at the Institute of Physics and Technology in Sokhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia were deplorable, according to the IAEA.  At least on one occasion, the uranium that disappeared from the Institute could have fallen into the hands of terrorists.  The Institute was still under the control of Russian authorities, who, against all odds, still insisted on the construction of a nuclear waste storage site in that lawless, separatist region.  That same porous section of the Georgian-Russian border would be unable to stop the smuggling of radioactive materials.  Since 1995, more than 197 unaccounted sources of radiation had been found in Georgia, deliberately left by the Russian Army; among them, uranium, strontium, and cesium.

In general, the situation in Abkhazia had important security and disarmament dimensions, due to the illegal presence of the Russian military base in Gudauta, he said.  Apart from directly participating in the conflict in Abkhazia, it was providing arms to the separatist regime.  It was in the context of that base that a number of Chechen terrorists were trained and, reportedly, Russian Special Services still maintained terrorist training camps in Abkhazia.  The illegal operation of the Gudauta base itself was a good example of Russia's selectivity in honouring its commitments in the field of disarmament.  Russia had not only flagrantly flouted the 1999 Istanbul agreement on the withdrawal of Russian military bases, within the framework of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty), but now demanded 11 years for the withdrawal of 3,000 servicemen from Georgia.  It had even declared the Gudauta based closed, but denied all requests for global verification.

MYA THAN (Myanmar) said that the urgency and importance of arms control and disarmament were greater than ever.  Nevertheless, the world was seeing several positive developments in this field.  For example, the Central Asian States were moving towards establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in their region, Mongolia was consolidating its status as a nuclear-weapon-free State, Cuba had decided to accede to the NPT, and the United States and the Russian Federation had signed the Moscow Treaty.

He hoped that the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on small arms would be acted upon and was pleased that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had resolved its difficulties and was now conducting its activities with renewed momentum.  He expressed regret, however, that the fifth Biological Weapons Convention review conference had adjourned without any concrete results.  He was also disappointed by the continued impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.  He urged all Member States, particularly those with nuclear weapons, to show maximum flexibility, so that the Conference could at least agree on a programme of work and begin substantive work.

JEREMY N. ISSACHAROFF (Israel) said his delegation had historically supported the draft resolution on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, since that region was clearly lacking any confidence-building measures or dialogue relating to arms control and regional security.  The second resolution, relating to the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, was a contentious text that sought to focus on only one aspect of the regional security environment and ignore the region's greatest proliferation dangers and its inherent instability.  It also chose to disregard the extreme hostility of certain countries in the region that continued to reject any form of peaceful reconciliation and coexistence with Israel.

In many ways, he said, the tabling of that resolution constituted an annual declaration by its sponsors that they preferred to continue to alienate Israel, rather than engage it and pursue ideas that might foster regional stability.  The basis for coexistence between Israel and its neighbours lay in the bilateral peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and it still hoped to widen that process.  Effective arms control measures could only be achieved and sustained in a region where wars, terror and non-recognition ceased to be features of everyday life.  The political reality mandated a step-by-step approach, based on a comprehensive peace and followed by confidence-building measures and arrangements on conventional arms.  That would culminate in the eventual establishment of a mutually verifiable zone free of ballistic missiles and biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, he said, terror in the form of cross-border attacks, the indiscriminate murder of civilians, attacks on civil aviation, the use of short-range rockets against population centres, savage bombings at universities and the "ultimate insanity" of suicide bombings had become part of Israel's reality.  Those terrorist acts, in one form or another, had touched almost every family in Israel.  Indeed, terror had become a "strategic weapon" in the context of the Middle East.  Similarly, conventional weapons in sufficient quantities could have a clear strategic impact.  Small arms had not had small consequences.

Any people that had lost one-third of its population in living memory could not allow itself to underestimate the killing power of any kind of weaponry, he said.  Thus, it followed closely the flow of increasingly sophisticated conventional arms into the area and their security impact.  The region also faced the ever-growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation in several countries and the excessive number -- in the thousands -- of short-range ground-to-ground rockets that had been transferred to Hezbollah in South Lebanon by Iran.  In order to complete that bleak picture, the past activities of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA in Iraq demonstrated the real risk of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile proliferation.

MOHAMED ALNAJAR (Yemen) said his country was keen on joining all international agreements limiting weapons of mass destruction.  Despite the efforts of Yemen and other Member States, international cooperation on disarmament had been extremely disappointing.  Tests of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction continued, as did the illegal possession of those weapons.  There had been an increase in armed conflicts, as well as the emergence of international terrorism, which knew no religion or language.  He called for the universalization of the NPT and the accelerated ratification of the CTBT, so that it could enter into force.

Regarding the Middle East, he said that Israel had not ratified the NPT or the CTBT treaties and was impeding efforts to rid the region of mass destruction weapons.  Moreover, it continued to possess nuclear reactors outside the scope of international monitoring, aimed at its continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.  By so doing, Israel was flouting international norms and United Nations resolutions, which had prohibited such aggressive policies.  He called on the international community to pressure Israel to accede, unconditionally, to the NPT and subject its nuclear facilities to full scope IAEA safeguards. 

The time had come to muster the political will to put an end to the destructive impact of the more than 500 million small arms and light weapons in circulation.  Those had rekindled wars and expanded their scope.  No one could deny the close link between that illicit trafficking, terrorism and organized crime and the drug trade.  A new law would be adopted in Yemen to end that trafficking.  His country had also supported all global efforts to ban landmines.  It had been one of the first countries to sign the Ottawa Convention and, in  1998, it had formed a national committee on landmines to set the strategies and plans for the national project to rid the country of those weapons.  That committee, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and friendly countries, including the United States, had destroyed its stockpile of anti-personnel mines.

MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon) said that the backdrop to the Committee's work had been the odious attacks of 11 September 2001 and the clear message they conveyed of a new potential threat of nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism.  Regrettably, the perception of that new threat had led not only to an increase in military spending and a reversal of promising disarmament and arms control trends, but had also broken the forward momentum of the disarmament commitments made at the Millennium Summit.  As a party to the NPT, Cameroon fully supported its ultimate aim, which was the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  It urged the nuclear Powers to implement the 13 agreed steps on nuclear disarmament.  Cuba's decision to accede to the NPT was, indisputably, a major contribution.

He said he encouraged the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, where possible.  Meanwhile, nuclear-weapon States should commit themselves not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  Regrettably, the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to break its deadlock, because of persistent disagreement on its work programme.  Cameroon, a member, would spare no effort to foster agreement.  Although the CTBT had recorded eight new signatures and ratifications, it was nevertheless deplorable that it had not yet entered into force.  He would join in all efforts aimed at encouraging its successful operation, as Cameroon would house a radionucleide station within the framework of the Treaty's verification mechanism.  Unilateral moratoriums on nuclear testing should continue.

The spread and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons was another source of serious concern, he said.  The 2001 programme of action was an important marker towards control of that worldwide scourge.  But, that was no longer merely a disarmament question, but a serious threat to international peace and security.  Tomorrow, his delegation would preside over the Security Council's debate on the small arms question.  That would be a further opportunity to take stock of the work done and explore possible new approaches.  He added that Cameroon ratified the Ottawa Convention on 19 September.

MARIO CASTELLÓN DUARTE (Nicaragua) said that no region in the world was free from small arms and light weapons.  While acknowledging that those weapons did not necessarily cause conflicts, he said that the ease by which they could be obtained increased their lethality.  Additionally, such arms were linked to drug trafficking, terrorism, organized transnational crime and other activities that threatened international peace and security.  The United Nations Conference on small arms was an example of multilateralism and a step in the right direction.  His Government was reinforcing the fight against small arms with subregional efforts within Central America.

Turning to landmines, he expressed satisfaction with the Ottawa Convention and reminded delegates that his Government had signed and ratified it.  Referring to a conference on demining held last August in his country, he said that it had reiterated the goal of the Western Hemisphere to become a landmine-free zone and appealed for continued and increased technical and financial assistance from the international community for demining programs in the Americas.

He expressed support for nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world. Specifically, he welcomed Cuba’s accession to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, saying that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean now formed the world’s first inhabited nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He also welcomed the efforts of the Central Asian States to form their own such zone.

GUILLERMO MELÉNDEZ-BARAHONA (El Salvador) said that a little over a decade ago, it had appeared that conflicts would disappear from the world.  Today, however, conflict situations and cases of mistrust in international relations were prompting the retention of arsenals by individual States and the development of more lethal weapons.

He said that, despite his country’s small size, limited resources, and lack of ambition to possess sophisticated weapons, it would nevertheless be negatively affected by international nuclear conflicts.  For that reason, he supported negotiations and instruments designed to curb arms races and subsequently promote progress and help the world’s least advantaged peoples.

His three primary issues of concern were terrorism, disarmament, and development. With respect to terrorism, he said that the 11 September 2001 attacks had changed the way the world needed to approach security.  Because terrorism cut across borders, in today’s world a multilateral, united approach was needed to combat it.  He announced that his country would do its part by hosting the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism.  With respect to development, he supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to consider the creation of a group of experts to discuss the relationship between disarmament and development.  Before concluding, he expressed disappointment that many countries devoted large amounts of resources to defence, instead of to developmental assistance for underdeveloped countries.

ŰMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said that arms control and disarmament were central to his Government’s national security policy.  In the field of conventional arms control, he attached high importance to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe as a fundamental contribution to security and stability in his region.  He noted that the implementation of the programme of action adopted by the United Nations Conference on small arms would be a challenge.  Extolling the virtues of transparency in the transfer of conventional weapons, he advocated the expansion of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to include small arms and light weapons categories.

He expressed concern that the Middle East and North Africa had the highest concentration of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile programmes.  He further suggested that it would be worthwhile to examine the root causes of that trend.  Reminding delegates that many of the technologies associated with weapons of mass destruction programmes also had legitimate civilian or military applications, he warned that technology and expertise were spreading internationally and that the prospects of nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism were, therefore, growing.  In that regard, he called for extreme vigilance in the transfer of sensitive material and technology to regions of concern, such as the Middle East.

He voiced support for the work of the IAEA.  In that context, he wanted to see measures taken to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the safeguards system.  Saying that his Government had implemented the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, he regretted that more States had not followed suit.  Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he said that the lack of progress made in the last four years was a “major cause of disappointment”.  He added that, despite of the end of the cold war, the key players continued to pursue diverging means to the same end and, therefore, had prevented even a programme of work from being adopted.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Iraq, in exercise of the right of reply, said the history of the Zionist entity was bleak -- in murder, destruction and crimes.  It had committed terrorist acts against civilians and resorted to all kinds of prohibited weaponry against innocent peoples.  Its acts against the Palestinian people were crystal clear evidence of its terrorist propensity.  The Zionist entity did not respect international resolutions, although scores had been adopted against it.  It had neither implemented, nor observed any of those texts, especially those concerning its recent crimes in the occupied territories, as well as its criminal acts at the Jenin camp. 

He said that the international community was well aware of the fact that the Zionist entity possessed a tremendous arsenal of mass destruction weapons.  Through theft and smuggling, it had obtained the components of those weapons from companies and agents throughout the world.  The Zionist entity also had an arsenal of nuclear weapons -- 200 to 400 nuclear warheads -- a fact that had been declared by an Israeli technician who escaped to Britain in 1986.  Publications had also described the large plutonium reactor for producing nuclear weapons.  In addition, the Zionist entity had a large network of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads and all other mass destruction weapons.  It recently equipped its submarines with such missiles, which were capable of reaching all Arab territories. 

In addition, he said, the Zionist entity had launched a series of espionage satellites for spying over the Arab States.  The Zionist entity was the only party in the Middle East that had not acceded to the NPT or subjected in nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards.  It opposed, together with its allies, the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Despite that, its delegate had shed "crocodile tears" in the Committee over so-called peace in the Middle East.  While calling for other countries to relinquish their weapons of mass destruction, the United States would not compel the Zionist entity to abandon its stupendous arsenal of such weapons. 

The representative of Lebanon, also in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Israel had spoken of idealistic and utopian disarmament and peace, as well as respect for civilians.  Anyone who listened to his statement would be pleased, but anyone who experienced his actions on the ground would be very disappointed.  Israel sought a peace based not on logic, but on the logic of might.  Two days ago, an Israeli Apache helicopter used missiles to bomb innocent Palestinian civilians, killing 16.  Who had not remembered the image of the child killed in his father's arms?  Occupation forces in southern Lebanon, under the protection of international forces of the United Nations, had killed more than  100 Lebanese civilians.  His emphasis on ground-to-ground missiles was nothing but propaganda, and had no basis in reality. 

Israel’s representative had said that some States had ballistic missiles, he continued.  Israel had nuclear missiles, and biological and chemical weapons, with which it daily threatened Arabic countries.  Moreover, the position of those ballistic missiles contravened United Nations resolutions aimed at compelling it to subject its nuclear facilities to full scope IAEA safeguards.  To that representative's call for a utopia of peace, he would remind him of the Arab peace initiative, adopted at Beruit, which gave Israel one condition -- withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories and the right to existence and recognition.  It had

also given Israel normal relations.  But, Israel's reaction on that day was to roll tanks in to the compound headquarters of Chairman Arafat in Ramallah.

Speaking also in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Israel said he was surprised by the fact that Iraq had taken such exception to his speech, since he had merely described policies that that Government had adopted and implemented over the years.  But, he was not surprised by the "incredibly intense rhetoric" that the Iraqi delegate employed towards Israel -- a word too difficult for him to pronounce.  That had summed up the essential thrust of the message he tried to convey earlier, and illustrated the real challenges and profound hostility it faced in the region. 

As for the Lebanese delegation, he said he would have been happier had that representative looked to the other side of his message and not sought a polemical exchange on the issues.  Israel had also suffered terrorist attacks in the north of the country, and today, another suicide attack took place in Israel.  So, when he talked about suicide attacks in Israel, he knew what he was talking about.  He would invite the Lebanese to bring a measure of stability to the south of the country. 

The representative of Lebanon, speaking again in right of reply, said he really looked forward to peace and that was what he meant by referring to the Arab initiative.  Concerning civilian casualties, the Palestinian Authority itself had condemned and continued to condemn the killing of civilians on both sides, as had the resolutions of the Security Council.  As for the calm in southern Lebanon, that was what he wanted, and hopefully, Israel would refrain from having its fighters violate Lebanese airspace daily. 

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For information media. Not an official record.