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

Official Records

General Assembly

Forty-ninth session

First Committee

9th meeting

Monday, 24 October 1994, 10 a.m.

New York

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

The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.

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

General debate on all disarmament and international security items

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Mr. Al-Faihani (Bahrain) (interpretation from Arabic): …

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Regional security is closely linked to international security. In recent years we have noted the increased importance the international community attaches to the maintenance of peace and security in certain regions.  In our region, the Middle East, this year has witnessed many developments in the ongoing peace negotiations.  We hope that this augurs well for the establishment of lasting peace in the region in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).  These developments culminated in the signing on 4 May of a self-rule agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel and the installation of a self-rule authority in Jericho and Gaza. Moreover, Jordan and Israel signed the Washington Declaration on 25 July. We hope that those agreements represent the first steps towards détente in the peace process on both the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks and mark the beginning of a solution to the question of

Palestine.

Peace and security in the Middle East require confidence-building, which cannot be achieved unless we can establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and ensure that the region is free of weapons of mass destruction. In that connection his Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaking in the General Assembly, stated:

"I should like to reaffirm here our full support for the policy of freeing the Middle East region from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and, accordingly – bearing in mind its capability in this field – we call upon Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons."  (Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-ninth Session, Plenary Meetings, 20th meeting, p. 6)

We are fully confident that the creation of a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and the accession of the region’s countries – particularly those with nuclear capability – to the NPT will contribute to the social and economic progress of the countries of the region.  We believe that when the Middle East region is free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction the benefits will not be limited to international peace and security but will include the social and economic development of the entire region, since the funds released will be devoted to the socio-economic sphere, which will enhance the living standards of the population.

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Mr. Sukayri (Jordan): …

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Before I tackle the issues of international security and disarmament on our agenda this session, I should like to refer to the positive developments which have taken place this year in the region of the Middle East. There is no doubt that such developments as the Jordanian-Israeli Treaty, which was initialled last week and which will be signed the day after tomorrow, will have a great impact on regional security and will help build confidence in the region, thus constituting an important step on the road towards a just, comprehensive, and durable peace in the Middle East.

The non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction has become a top priority on the international agenda, simply because the proliferation of such weapons poses a grave threat to international peace and security and thus constitutes a major concern for the international community.

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We share the appeal made in this Committee, on behalf of the European Union and by some other delegations, to all countries which have not yet acceded to the NPT to do so as soon as possible, and we commend steps taken recently by Algeria and a number of other countries in this regard. We also reiterate our call for the placement of all nuclear facilities, especially in the region of the Middle East, under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Besides security concerns relating to the threat of nuclear proliferation, uninspected nuclear facilities raise the question of human and environmental safety, which is of the utmost importance to my country.

As part of its active participation in the peace process, my country is participating in good faith in multilateral negotiations on arms control and disarmament. We are hopeful that these negotiations will soon lead to effective and verifiable arms-control agreements between the States of the region. The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would be a major achievement. We fully support this goal, and believe that such a step would enhance confidence and eliminate a major threat to regional security, in addition to its contribution to worldwide general and complete nuclear disarmament.

For the second consecutive year, we would like to quote from the "Study on effective and verifiable measures which would facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East", contained in document A/45/435 of 10 October 1990, which stated that:

"Adherence to the NPT by all States of the region – and notably by Israel – would be a most significant milestone. Pending such a measure, the acceptance by Israel of safeguards on the Dimona facilities would be an important move towards the establishment of a zone and could be realized well in advance of its adherence to the NPT." (A/45/435, para. 181).

The momentum that the conclusion of the Jordanian-Israeli Treaty has created in the Middle East should be maintained. My delegation believes that a positive step such as accession by Israel to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the placement of all Israeli nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards would definitely lead to the maintenance and further enhancement of this momentum. The elimination of a major threat to regional security would also contribute to confidence-building, which is essential to pave the way towards more progress on the other tracks of the peace process. A Middle East free from nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction would undoubtedly be different from the Middle East of today: the most volatile region ever known.

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Continued efforts to convert weapons industries in the former Eastern bloc to peaceful uses, and efforts in other parts of the world to redirect resources from military to peaceful civilian purposes are highly commendable.  We are hopeful that such measures may become possible in the Middle East very soon. One of the positive results of the peace process in that region should be a major shift from the arms race to cooperation in security and socio-economic development. Such a shift would certainly eliminate a major source of insecurity in its broader sense. Threats to security do not emanate exclusively from the accumulation of weapons, but also from poverty, unemployment and environmental degradation. Hence the need for economic and social development.

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Mr. Kharrazi (Islamic Republic of Iran): …

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We also need to examine the possibility of States not parties to the NPT acceding to the Treaty, with particular attention to the situation in the Middle East and to the refusal of Israel, with its unyielding nuclear programme, to open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It should be realized that the continuation of discriminatory policies by nuclear-weapon States that practise selective proliferation rather than non-proliferation would pose a major threat to peace and security in the Middle East and would hamper the success of any disarmament initiative in that region.

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The meeting rose at 1.15 p.m.


Document symbol: A/C.1/49/PV.9
Document Type: Meeting record
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 24/10/1994
2021-10-20T18:37:07-04:00
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