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GA/DIS/3513
29 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 20th Meeting (PM)

More than 20 Recorded Votes Required in First Committee as It Forwards 14 Nuclear Weapons-Related Drafts to General Assembly

Deeply concerned about the growing dangers of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons caused by proliferation networks, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today approved a draft resolution urging adoption of a legally binding instrument to ensure non-nuclear-armed States against the use or threat of use of those weapons.

Also by that text, among 14 approved by the Committee in its nuclear weapons cluster, the General Assembly was urged to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.

That text, approved by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 14 abstentions, would also urge all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and also urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to conduct any further nuclear tests.

Prior to approval of that draft as a whole, recorded votes were requested on four separate provisions.  Operative paragraph 3, by which the Assembly would call on all non-States parties to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear-weapon States, was retained by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel), with 6 abstentions (Bhutan, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe).

Another provision, operative paragraph 11, would have the Assembly reiterate its call for the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  It was retained by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 2 against (China, Pakistan), with 4 abstentions (India, Iran, Israel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

Operative paragraph 17, retained by a recorded vote of 148 in favour to none against, with 22 abstentions, would have the Assembly reaffirm its support for establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Operative paragraph 20, by which the Assembly would stress the importance of the universalization of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard agreements, was retained by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, Pakistan).

Another contentious text, on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 48 against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Belarus, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).  The text would have the Assembly reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence such negotiations and to report in results.

Also approved today was a draft resolution on reducing nuclear danger, by which the Assembly would bear in mind that the use of nuclear weapons posed the most serious threat to mankind and convinced that their proliferation would seriously increase the danger of nuclear war, and request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures to review their nuclear doctrines and take steps to reduce the risk of use of nuclear weapons.

It was approved by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 48 against, with 10 abstentions (Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, China, Georgia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).

The Committee took four recorded votes on a resolution, entitled “Towards a nuclear weapon-free world:  accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”.  The text was approved as a whole by a vote of 166 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, Haiti).

A vote was requested on preambular paragraph 24, by which the Assembly would emphasize the importance of a successful 2015 Review Conference, by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Pakistan, United Kingdom).

By another provision, operative paragraph 9, the Assembly would stress the fundamental role of NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and urge India, Israel and Pakistan to promptly accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  That paragraph was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 4 against (India, Israel, United States, Pakistan), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, France, United Kingdom).

An additional provision, operative paragraph 11, was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United States, Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions (France, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom).  That paragraph would have the Assembly urge all States to work together to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery and immediately implement the three specific recommendations from the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan addressed to the Conference on Disarmament.

The Committee took three separate recorded votes on a text on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, by which the Assembly would recall that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East that had not yet become party to NPT and call on it to accede to it.  It was approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, United States), with 20 abstentions.

Prior to that action, the Committee voted to retain preambular paragraph 5, by which the Assembly would recall the decision adopted by the 1995 NPT Review Conference, which, among other things, called upon all States not yet party to the Treaty to accede to it.  It took a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 6 abstentions (Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo).

Another provision, preambular paragraph 6, was retained by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Mauritius, Pakistan, Rwanda, Togo).  It would have the Assembly recognize that, in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review, the Conference had undertaken to make determined efforts towards the achievement of the goal of universality of the Treaty and called upon States that had not done so to accede to it and accept IAEA safeguards.

Also during the cluster on nuclear weapons, the Committee approved, also by recorded votes, drafts on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent area:  a treaty banning fissile material; taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations; decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems; negative security assurances; follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament; and the third Conference of States parties and signatories that establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone and Mongolia.

Acting without a vote in that cluster, the Committee also approved drafts on establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East; a treaty on a nuclear weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

Prior to action, the representatives of Egypt, the United Kingdom, Cuba, Israel and Pakistan delivered general statements on the nuclear weapons cluster.  The representative of the European Union Delegation also delivered a general statement.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote were the representatives of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, Ecuador, Egypt and Iran.

Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote were the representatives of Egypt, India, Japan, China, the United States, Austria and Israel.

The representative of Iran spoke on a point of order.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 30 October, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

General Statements on Cluster 1:  Nuclear Weapons

Amr Fathi Aljowaily (Egypt) said his delegation had tabled two resolutions under the first cluster on nuclear weapons, “L.1”, on the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and “L.2/rev.1” on the risk of nuclear proliferation Middle East.  Those were introduced by his delegation at the opening of the thematic cluster discussion.  On “L.1”, the resolution had a technical update from the text adopted last year, and traditionally, the resolution had been adopted without a vote.  “L.2/Rev.1”, the current draft, included additional language comparable to the similar resolution adopted last year; some new language in the perambulatory section was a reference to the note by the Secretary-General, which contained letters received from Member States confirming support for a Middle East zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  There were also new operative paragraphs in “L.2/Rev.1”, which concerned the Middle East only.  He considered the resolution to be a litmus test of the extent to which the international community was committed to language that had been agreed upon and to the collective commitments of States’ parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom), also speaking on behalf of the Russian Federation and the United States, said that as co-conveners , those States remained fully committed to establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and to the 1995 resolution.  The disappointment expressed by many States was understandable.  The United Kingdom and its co-conveners would continue to support holding the conference and stood ready to participate.  He welcomed the fact that the States of the Middle East had participated in five rounds of informal consultations since 2013.  Those countries must be prepared to make the difficult decisions necessary to hold the conference, and they should continue consultations, with the aim of reaching “agreement arrangements” for the conference to be held in Helsinki soon.

ANDRAS KOS, representative of the European Union Delegation, expressed strong support for the outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, including the provisions for the Middle East, and remained fully committed to the establishment of such a zone in that region.  He urged all States in the region to proactively engage with the conference Facilitator, the co-conveners and each other, with the aim of convening the conference as soon as possible.  All States in the region should accede to NPT, as well as to the Biological Weapons Convention, and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  He welcomed the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the “EU+3”, and said it was essential that Iran cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme.

Action on Texts

Speaking in explanation of vote before action on the nuclear weapons cluster, the representative of Cuba said that her country had co-sponsored several drafts in that group, including: follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament (L.44); convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons (L.16); conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons (L.27); reducing nuclear danger (L.18); nuclear weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (L.10); and Third Conference of States’ Parties and Signatories that Establish Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zones and Mongolia (L.57).

On “L.44”, she said that draft resolution was a practical response to furthering the objective of nuclear disarmament.  She hoped that States that had expressed concerns over the stagnation of the disarmament machinery and lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament would support the resolution.

On “L.27”, she said that as long as the total elimination of nuclear weapons had not been achieved, the international community would need to urgently adopt a legally binding instrument through which the nuclear-weapon States could grant non-nuclear-weapon States security guarantees against the use or threat of nuclear weapons.  That was why the draft resolution was important.  Lastly, it was important to establish nuclear weapon-free zones around the world as a concrete step towards the objective nuclear disarmament.  In that regard, Cuba supported the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Also speaking before the votes, the representative of Israel said that draft resolution “L.2” was “as close to an absurdity as it comes”.  It was politically biased and designed by authors to deflect from the real threats in the region.  She noted that four countries in the region had violated NPT.  The draft said more about the “misguided intentions” of its co-sponsors than about Israel.  Further, it perpetuated the illusion that Israel was a threat to the region.  In particular, the treatment in the text of the Helsinki conference was perplexing, as it omitted the fact that five rounds of multilateral discussions had already taken place.  Israel had participated in all rounds at a senior level and had expressed willingness to participate in a sixth round.  She found it curious that the authors preferred to lament the delay in the Helsinki process rather than engage earnestly in the necessary preparatory work.

Explaining the delegation’s position before the vote on “L.20”, the representative of Pakistan opposed the decision to set up the Group of Governmental Experts as it would undermine the Conference on Disarmament and bring no value to the Conference’s deliberations.  Pakistan saw no merit in continuing the work of that Group at a cost to the United Nations.  Further, there were wide gaps between non-nuclear- and nuclear-weapon States over fundamental issues that could not be resolved by a handful of countries.  Even if they could, they would not be binding.  The Conference remained the only forum for consideration of the fissile material issue.  The Governmental Expert Group was a needless diversion and duplication.  As such, Pakistan would oppose the draft.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking before the vote on cluster 1, referring first to “L.36” on united actions towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons sponsored by Japan, said his delegation resented the text because it contained elements that did not correctly reflect the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula; only expressed concerns over the peaceful nuclear activities “against one single country”.  The resolution said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon-State.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was an NPT non-party.  It had pulled out of NPT and developed nuclear weapons to defend its sovereignty from the United States, which targeted his country for pre-emptive nuclear attack.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not need to be publically recognized as a nuclear-weapon-State, but rather was content to be able to defend itself.  It was unimaginable for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  He said the three non-nuclear principles of Japan were “just a deception” — that plutonium was piled up in excess and political figures in Japan raised their voices calling for the country’s nuclear weaponization.  His delegation would vote against the draft.

The representative of the United States said his delegation would vote “no” on “L.2”, as it failed to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance by singling out one country.  Furthermore, it did not take into account instances of non-compliance in the region.  Notwithstanding the “no” vote, he reiterated the longstanding position of NPT in establishing a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.  The regional States had met five times in the past year with the support of the conveners and the facilitator, and Israel had demonstrated its commitment to attending the conference once agreement had been reached.  He hoped the regional parties would continue to meet and exhibit skill and determination.  The practice of pursuing resolutions such as “L.2” year after year did nothing to build confidence in the region, nor did it make progress for the conference.

Explaining the vote on “L.21” on behalf of the United Kingdom and France, he said there were already sufficient forums for taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, as stated last year.  He remained concerned by processes that focused solely on disarmament, whereas NPT contained all three pillars for disarmament and non-proliferation.  Also speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of the United Kingdom and France on “L.44”, he said that resolution did not reflect the views expressed at the follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, nor the views of many other States that had participated.  He regretted that the high-level meeting did not deal with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a balanced manner.  The 2010 NPT Action Plan provided the best route for making progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament.  A practical, step-by-step process was the only way forward.  There were no shortcuts and no other ways to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.36”, the representative of Ecuador regretted that previous versions of the draft resolution had omitted calls for the Conference on Disarmament as the natural disarmament forum, which had led his delegation to vote against it in the past.  The co-sponsors this year, having listened to State appeals, included in the new draft’s operative paragraph 11 a mention of the Conference.  Therefore, this year, it would be possible for Ecuador to vote in favour of the draft.  However, it would carefully review next year’s version to ensure it reflected crucial elements that were lacking, including, among others, a legally binding instrument that would contain negative security assurances for non-nuclear weapon States.  His delegation was ready to cooperate with the co-sponsor of that resolution on specific proposals to improve the text in the future.

Also speaking before the vote on “L.36”, the representative of Egypt said the formulation of the draft fell short of fulfilling its objectives.  In particular, Egypt was gravely concerned that the conveners had not held a conference on the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East in 2012 as mandated by the final outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Egypt also had serious reservations about the draft’s operative paragraph 17 related to the Middle East.  The current formulation was incomplete as it missed any references to the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and the final outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Those were the only two agreed upon terms of reference for the Conference.  Despite efforts, no language was proposed by the co-sponsors to bridge the differences.  He noted, however, his strong support for operative paragraph 3, which reaffirmed the need for NPT’s universality and called upon all States not party to it to accede promptly and without conditions.  Regarding operative paragraph 10, Egypt had proposed a minor amendment using agreed upon language that would place emphasis on States that had not acceded to NPT to sign or ratify it, but that had not been accepted nor had any other language been proposed.  In light of the above, Egypt would abstain from voting on operative paragraph 17 given those serious reservations.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on “L.20”, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed concern that the draft decision contained provisions that allowed negotiations to be pursued outside the Conference of Disarmament.  He stressed that the Conference was the only multilateral negotiating body and the appropriate venue for consideration of disarmament issues.  Any attempt to take decisions outside of it would undermine confidence in the forum’s authority.  More efforts should be made to achieve compromise and consensus on the matter.  It was for those reasons that his delegation would thus abstain from the vote.

The representative of Iran said that regarding “L.36”, achieving the objective of total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use and was his country’s highest priority in disarmament.  He shared the resolution’s objective and supported operative paragraph 3, which reaffirmed NPT’s vital importance.  However, he could not accept the assertion that the fulfilment of nuclear disarmament was conditioned upon the enhancement of international peace and security, as was suggested in the preamabular portion.  In operative paragraph 17, the text’s author had overlooked the agreed upon mandate for convening a conference for a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  That clearly demonstrated a lack of consistency and integrity on the part of the sponsor.  With regard to the work of the Conference on Disarmament, the draft suffered from a significant imbalance, as it focused only on a fissile material cut-off treaty and failed to call for the urgent commencement of negotiations on nuclear disarmament in that forum.  For those reasons, his delegation would abstain on “L.36” as a whole.  He urged the sponsor to observe the principle of transparency and inclusivity when drafting the resolution next year.

Explaining his position on “L.2”, he said that, as in previous years, his delegation would vote in favour, as it dealt with the most important aspect of security in the Middle East, namely the threat of the Israeli regime’s nuclear arsenal and other sophisticated weapons, its aggressive and expansionist policies, as well as its non-adherence to international laws, norms and principles.  The Israeli regime was the only threat to the peace and security of the Middle East and beyond, and the only obstacle to a nuclear weapon-free zone in the region.  Israel needed to accede to NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  There was no source of insecurity and instability in the Middle East and beyond other than the Israeli regime.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution, introduced by Egypt, on the Establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/69/L.1).

By its terms, the General Assembly would urge all parties to consider taking practical and urgent steps towards implementing the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East and invite the countries concerned to adhere to NPT.  The text would also have the Assembly call on countries of the region that had not yet done so to agree to place all their nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

Next, the Committee considered 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.1/69/L.2/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly, recalling that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East that had not yet become party to NPT, would call on it to accede to that Treaty without further delay, and to not develop, produce, test or acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce their possession and place all unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full IAEA control.

Before taking action on that draft as a whole, the Committee took a recorded vote on preambular paragraph 5, by which the Assembly would recall the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, which, among other things, called on all States not yet party to the Treaty to accede to it at the earliest date, particularly those States that operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

That paragraph was retained today by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 6 abstentions (Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo).

The Committee next took a recorded vote on preambular paragraph 6, by which the Assembly would recognize that, in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review, the Conference had undertook to make determined efforts towards the achievement of the goal of universality of the Treaty and called on States that had not done so to accede to it and accept IAEA safeguards.

That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Mauritius, Pakistan, Rwanda, Togo).

That text was then approved as a whole by a recorded vote of 151 in favour to 4 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, United States), with 20 abstentions.

The Committee then took action on the resolution on the Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas (document A/C.1/69/L.10).

By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of nuclear weapon-free zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and call on all States to work together to facilitate adherence to the protocols of those Treaties by all relevant States that had not yet done so.  In that regard, the Assembly would welcome the steps taken by the United States towards the ratification of the protocols to the Treaties of Pelindaba and of Rarotonga and the signing by the nuclear-weapon States of the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia.  The Assembly would call on nuclear-weapon States to withdraw any reservations or interpretive declarations contrary to those treaties.

The Committee then approved that text by a recorded vote of 172 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 3 abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, South Sudan).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolution on the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (document A/C.1/69/L.11), by which the Assembly would welcome that Treaty’s entry into force on 21 March 2009.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution, Towards a nuclear weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments (document A/C.1/69/L.12/Rev.1).

By its terms, the Assembly would stress the fundamental role of NPT and urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfil its commitments under the six-party talks.  It would also call upon the nuclear-weapon States to implement their nuclear disarmament commitments in a manner that enabled the States parties to regularly monitor progress.  It would also urge States to pursue multilateral negotiations without delay.

The Committee first retained preambular paragraph 24, by which the Assembly would emphasize the importance of a successful 2015 Review Conference, by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 3 against (India, Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (France, Pakistan, United Kingdom).

Operative paragraph 9, which would have the Assembly stress the fundamental role of NPT in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and urges India, Israel and Pakistan to promptly accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 4 against (India, Israel, United States, Pakistan), with 3 abstentions (Bhutan, France, United Kingdom).

Operative paragraph 11, which would have the Assembly urge all States to work together to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery and immediately implement the three specific recommendations from the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan addressed to the Conference on Disarmament, was retained by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 3 against (Israel, United States, Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions (France, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom).

The Committee then took action on the whole draft, approving it by a vote of 166 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, Haiti).

Next, the Committee took up the resolution on Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons activities (document A/C.1/69/L.16), by which the Assembly would 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 nuclear weapons under any circumstances.  Further, it would request the Conference on Disarmament to report on the results of those negotiations.

That text was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 48 against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Belarus, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).

The Committee then approved the draft resolution on Reducing nuclear danger (document A/C.1/69/L.18) by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 48 against, with 10 abstentions (Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, China, Georgia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Uzbekistan).

By its terms, the Assembly, bearing in mind that the use of nuclear weapons posed the most serious threat to mankind and convinced that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war, would request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures towards the implementation of a review of nuclear doctrines and steps to reduce the risks of the use of nuclear weapons.

The Committee then approved a draft decision, introduced by Canada, on the Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (document A/C.1/69/L.20), by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 1 against (Pakistan), with 5 abstentions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Syria).

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations (document A/C.1/69/L.21), approving it by a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 22 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would call upon Member States, international organizations and civil society to continue to enrich discussions on how to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negations in the relevant United Nations bodies.

Next, the Committee took up the draft resolution entitled, Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems (document A/C.1/69/L.22), by which the Assembly would express concern that, notwithstanding the end of the cold war, several thousand nuclear weapons remained on high alert.  The draft would have the Assembly call for practical steps to decrease the operational status of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons were removed from high alert status.

Before taking action on that text as a whole, the Committee voted on preambular paragraph 8, which would have the Assembly welcome the adoption by consensus of the conclusions and recommendations for follow-up actions by the 2010 NPT Review Conference, including the commitments of the nuclear-weapon States to promptly engage and consider the interests of non-nuclear-weapon States in further reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons systems. 

That provision was retained by a recorded vote of 156 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 13 abstentions.

The Committee then approved that draft as a whole by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 4 against (France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), with 10 abstentions (Andorra, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Korea, Turkey).

Next, the Committee took action on the resolution, Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapon (document A/C.1/69/L.27), which would have the Assembly recognize effective measures and arrangements to assure that non-nuclear-weapon States could protect against those threats and contribute positively to the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons.  It would appeal to all States to work actively towards a common formula that could be included in a legally binding international instrument.

The text was approved by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to none against, with 56 abstentions.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution on United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/69/L.36).

By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the vital importance of NPT and call on nuclear-weapon States to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.  It would urge all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify CTBT, and would recognize the legitimate interests of non-nuclear-weapon States in receiving negative security assurances.  It would also urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to conduct any further nuclear tests, and stress the importance of the IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements.

The Committee first retained operative paragraph 3, by which the Assembly would reaffirm the vital importance of NPT’s universality, call on all States not party to it to accede as non-nuclear-weapon States, by a recorded vote of 164 in favour to 3 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Israel), with 6 abstentions (Bhutan, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe).

Next, the Committee retained operative paragraph 11 by a recorded vote of 166 in favour to 2 against (China, Pakistan), with 4 abstentions (India, Iran, Israel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).  By its terms, the Assembly would reiterate its call for the immediate start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Operative paragraph 17 was retained by a recorded vote of 148 in favour to none against, with 22 abstentions.  It would have the Assembly reaffirm its support for establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Operative paragraph 20 was also retained, by a recorded vote of 165 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, Pakistan).  It would have the Assembly stress the importance of the universalization of the IAEA safeguard agreements to include States which had not yet adopted and implemented such an agreement.

The text as a whole was then approved by a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 14 abstentions.

The Committee next approved the draft resolution, introduced by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on the Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/69/L.44).

By its terms, the Assembly would call for urgent compliance with the legal obligations and commitments undertaken on nuclear disarmament.  That text would endorse a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons and call for the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons.

It was approved by a recorded vote of 135 in favour to 24 against, with 18 abstentions.

Taking up the resolution on the Third Conference of States Parties and Signatories to Treaties that Establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and Mongolia, 2015 (document A/C.1/69/L.57), the Committee approved it as a whole by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States).

By its terms, the Assembly would urge the State parties and signatories to treaties that have established nuclear weapon-free zones to develop activities of cooperation and coordination in order to promote their common objectives in the framework of the Third Conference.

Speaking in explanation of vote on draft decision “L.20”, the representative of Egypt said his country had always considered a treaty on fissile material as an important step towards achieving nuclear disarmament.  He noted that “L.20” referred to General Assembly resolution 67/53.  That resolution did not adequately meet the basic requisite of clearly including past stockpiles of fissile material for military uses in any potential treaty.  That resolution also lacked operative language referring to a potential treaty contributing to general and total disarmament.  He welcomed the creation of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on aspects that could contribute to a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He commended the Chair for her transparent and participatory management of the activities of the Group.  Egypt contributed actively and substantively with a view to ensuring that any such treaty took into account both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.  For the above reasons and in the above context, Egypt had abstained from the decision.

Speaking in explanation of vote on draft resolution “L.2/Rev.1”, the representative of India said he had abstained from the vote on the draft as a whole and voted “no” on preambular paragraphs 5 and 6, as the focus of the resolution should be limited to the region that it intended to address.  He said that India’s position on NPT was well-known.  The 1969 Vienna Convention provided that States were bound by the treaty based on the principle of pre-consent.  The call on States outside that Treaty to accede to it was at variance with that principle and did not reflect current realities.  India was not party to NPT and was not bound by its outcome documents.

Speaking in explanation of “L.12/Rev.1”, he said that India remained committed to the goal of complete elimination of nuclear weapons and continued to support a time-bound programme for global nuclear disarmament.  Nevertheless, his country voted against the resolution as it could not accept the call to accede to NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State, which negated the rules of customary international law as enshrined in the Vienna Law of treaties based on the principle of pre-consent.  Nuclear weapons were an integral part of India’s national security and would remain as such, pending global, verifiable, non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

On “L.20”, the representative said that his country supported negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference of Disarmament, and was participating in the work of the Group of Governmental Experts, which should strengthen international resolve to begin negotiations.  He said that the Conference was the single multilateral forum for disarmament and hoped that substantive work would commence at an early date.

India had voted in favour of “L.21”, he said, noting that in 2012, it had abstained because of concerns related to the established disarmament machinery.  While his country voted in favour of today’s resolution, he expressed concern about parallel initiatives that could impact the established disarmament machinery.

The representative said he had voted in favour of “L.22” as a whole, as it highlighted the importance of de-alerting nuclear weapons to reduce nuclear danger.  He had abstained from the vote on preambular paragraph 8 due to his country’s established position on NPT.

On “L.36”, he said that India remained committed to the goal of global, verifiable nuclear disarmament and stressed the need for a step-by-step process through a multilateral framework.  The resolution fell short of those objectives.  India voted against operative paragraph 3 as it could not accept the call to accede to NPT as a non-nuclear weapons State.  Nuclear weapons were an integral part of India’s national security and would remain so pending non-discriminatory and global nuclear disarmament.  India had also abstained on operative paragraph 20 as the concept of comprehensive safeguard agreement was only applicable to nuclear-weapon States party to NPT.  On operative paragraph 11, as India supported negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty through the Conference of Disarmament, the question of a moratorium had not arisen.

The representative of Japan began explaining his position on “L.27” and “L.36”.

The representative of Iran interrupted, on a point of order, saying that, according to the Committee’s rules of procedure, the sponsor of a resolution could not speak in explanation of vote either before or after action on that text.

Following clarification by the Acting Committee Chair on rule 128, the representative of Japan said he would refrain from taking the floor.

Speaking in explanation of vote on “L.44”, the representative of China said it had always advocated for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and voted in favour of the draft.  He said that the principles of maintaining undiminished security of all should be enshrined in the cause of nuclear disarmament.  All issues related to disarmament should be discussed in the Conference on Disarmament.

On “L.12/Rev.1”, he supported the draft resolution, but some content went beyond the language the agreed NPT Review Conference Action Plan, which was why his delegation abstained.

On “L.21”, he said the nuclear disarmament process should be promoted within existing frameworks such as the Conference on Disarmament.  New mechanisms would undermine the authority of existing ones, therefore China had abstained.

On “L.36”, the representative of China said that the moratorium was counterproductive to promoting the early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and he had therefore abstained.

On “L.20”, he said that China supported a fissile material cut-off treaty in accordance with the Shannon report and participated in informal discussions this year.  The Conference on Disarmament was the only forum to negotiate the fissile material cut-off treaty.

Speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, a representative of the United States, referencing draft resolution “L.10”, underscored the importance those countries attached to nuclear weapon-free zones and highlighted the signing of the protocol of Semipalatinsk, which provided negative security assurances to the Central Asian nuclear weapon-free zone.  Such zones could be effective if supported by member States of the region concerned and concluded in consultation with nuclear-weapon States.  As such, he questioned the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone covering the high seas.  That ambiguity had not been sufficiently clarified.  For that reason, those three countries voted against “L.10”.  On “L.12/Rev.1”, they voted “no” and were disappointed to see it focusing almost solely on the nuclear disarmament agenda.  He noted with regret that a step-by-step approach to disarmament had almost disappeared and was concerned with the focus on parallel processes.  Turning to “L.22”, the group continued to disagree with the basic premises of the resolution, which suggested that current readiness increased chances of the unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons.  He noted that the relationship between alert levels and security was complex.  Those countries had reduced operational readiness and alert levels since the early 1990s, and those weapons systems were no longer targeted against any specific State.

On “L.57”, he said that substantive elements gave them pause.  They could not endorse language in preambular paragraph 3 and paragraph 172 of the final document of the Sixteenth Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran nor to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States proclamation referred to in preambular paragraph 8.

The representative of Austria, explaining the position of his country and Ireland on “L.16”, said those delegations had not supported the resolution in the past and maintained that position this year.  The resolution did not include any reference to the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the key legal instruments thereof, in particular, NPT.  Those instruments had been established with a view to reducing nuclear dangers, advancing nuclear disarmament, and preventing nuclear proliferation.  While Austria and Ireland were strongly supportive of the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, a resolution that meant to eliminate their use or threat but did not mention that regime was not sufficient.  He shared deep concern at the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use and the need for all States to comply with applicable international humanitarian law.  He underlined that it was in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons were never used again under any circumstances.  Preventing their use, therefore, was a key and urgent challenge for the international community.  All States possessing those weapons should take urgent and concrete measures to reduce the risk of their use.

The representative of Israel said her delegation had once again joined consensus on “L.1”, despite its ongoing substantive reservations regarding the region’s realities.  That positon was taken as an indication of Israel’s continued commitments to a process aimed at the establishment of a peaceful Middle East, free from weapons of mass destruction, and was in line with Israel’s participation in a senior and authoritative level of five rounds of consultations.  Israel was also willing to participate in the sixth round.  “L.1” was a consensus resolution, however in the past it had been shared by the authors with Israel prior to submission to the Committee.  She hoped that that the positive tradition would be continued, but unfortunately, that had not been the case this year.  A credible regional security process was necessary in order to take into account the security concerns of all regional States and address them in the context of present realities and challenges.  On “L.20”, she said a fissile material cut-off treaty to address non-proliferation challenges had yet to materialize.  That was especially relevant for a Middle East where some States had an exceptionally poor track record with NPT obligations.  The notion of a fissile material ban was subsumed within the question of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East, the prerequisite of which was far from being fulfilled.

For information media. Not an official record.