Nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East – First Cttee debate – Verbatim record (excerpts)

Official Records

General Assembly

Forty-ninth session

First Committee

16th meeting

Wednesday, 9 November 1994, 3 p.m.

New York

Chairman: Mr. Valencia Rodriguez ……………………….. (Ecuador)

The meeting was called to order at 3.25 p.m.

Agenda items 53 to 66, 68 to 72 and 153 (continued)

Consideration of draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items


The Chairman (interpretation from Spanish): The next speaker is the representative of Egypt, who will introduce draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11.

Mr. Elaraby (Egypt): I have the honour to introduce draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11, entitled "The threat of nuclear armament in the Middle East", which is sponsored by the delegations of Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt.

The draft resolution submitted this year under agenda item 65 constitutes a dramatic departure from the texts of previous years, both in form and in substance. Its sole objective is to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in the regional context of the Middle East. For decades this sensitive region of the world has been the theatre of devastating armed conflicts, which have posed a severe and constant threat to international peace and security. With the advent of the recent positive political developments in the Middle East as a result of the ongoing peace process, it is ever more pressing to safeguard the region from the ominous consequences associated with the introduction of nuclear weapons and the perils of a future nuclear-arms race. The total elimination of this threat would no doubt contribute to consolidating the peace process and increasing its momentum. This objective, as is clear from the draft resolution, cannot be achieved unless all States of the region undertake equal obligations and equal responsibilities, and enjoy equal rights, as stipulated in the NPT. The key is total equality across the board.

I shall turn now to a most important feature of the draft resolution. Let me start by saying that resolutions adopted in past years were considered by many delegations as imbalanced, because they focused on one State.  Many considered that they could not support the "singling out" feature in those resolutions. Fortunately, recent positive developments in the Middle East have contributed to creating a climate of confidence and cooperation, and there is no need for any further confrontation.

Draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11 addresses all – I repeat, all – States of the region not parties to the NPT in a precise and factual manner, on the basis of their level of advancement in nuclear technology. I must note that the singling out of one State, which was a feature of previous resolutions, has been eliminated. It has been dropped.  Those who are reluctant to extend their support to A/C.1/49/L.11 are, in point of fact, singling out the Middle East as a region. They would be sending a clear message that the international community is willing to acquiesce in nuclear proliferation when it comes to the Middle East, and it is our turn now to say that this singling out cannot be accepted.

The universality of the NPT is considered to be a truly effective means of eliminating the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is certainly just as applicable at the regional level as it is at the global level. The thrust of the draft resolution is in conformity with the importance the international community attaches to the NPT and its universality and to the necessity to further strengthen its effectiveness, in particular as we approach the 1995 Conference on the review and extension of the NPT.

Draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11 is a non-proliferation text and nothing else. Those who support the NPT and those who advocate that we should be open-minded when the review Conference takes place next April are in duty bound to support draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11.  The draft resolution is balanced in that it calls, in identical terms, on all non-parties to the NPT in the Middle East to accede to the Treaty and to place all their nuclear facilities under the full- scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. At the same time, the draft resolution is factual in defining the level of the non-parties’ advancement in the nuclear field. It reflects today’s realities: that one of the non-parties in the region has an advanced unsafeguarded nuclear programme, whereas the others have no such programmes at all.

The continuation of the current imbalance in the commitment of the States of the Middle East to the non-proliferation Treaty would constitute a real threat to the security of the region. The ongoing efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace deserve a realistic assessment of the security concerns of all the States of the region.

The sponsors of the draft resolution have legitimate expectations. They expect that the international community will apply one single yardstick where the NPT regime is concerned. We expect – and, I submit, we are entitled to receive – even-handed treatment from the international community. We expect unequivocal support for the NPT. It is totally unwarranted and discriminatory to shelter any non-party to the NPT from the need to conform to the general and solid resolve of the international community to ensure universal adherence to the Treaty. Any exception will cast serious doubts on the sincerity of those advocating the extension of the NPT in 1995.

Before concluding, I should like to say that in formulating the text of draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11, the sponsors have gone to great lengths to accommodate the various views expressed in the Committee on this important issue. The sponsors are open-minded and are willing to react to any meaningful proposal to make the text more acceptable. It is hoped that the draft resolution will gain wide support, reflecting the importance that Member States attach to the NPT, to its universality and to the necessity to embark on its extension. Our common objective is the total elimination of nuclear armament in the Middle East.


The meeting rose at 4.15 p.m.

Document symbol: A/C.1/49/PV.16
Document Type: Meeting record
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 09/11/1994
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