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

Official Records

General Assembly

Forty-ninth session

First Committee

23rd meeting

Thursday, 17 November 1994, 3 p.m.

New York

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

The meeting was called to order at 4 p.m.

Agenda items 57, 58, 61 to 65, 71, 72 and 73 (continued)

Action on draft resolutions


The Chairman: I shall now call on representatives who wish to explain their votes.

Mr. Hernandez (Argentina) (interpretation from Spanish): The delegation of Argentina wishes to explain its vote on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1.

First, in the light of my delegation’s position on the general situation in the Middle East, I wish to express once again our deep satisfaction at the great progress that has been made in the ongoing peace process, in particular following the Washington Agreement of September 1993 between the representatives of the Palestinian people and of Israel.

At the same time, Argentina supports the efforts of all countries of the region to achieve a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and encourages them to continue those efforts. In this respect, we warmly welcome the recent agreement between the Kingdom of Jordan and Israel.

In the present context, these historic steps towards peace in the region are significant, and we do not believe that draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1 will really strengthen the process or improve the political climate in the region. On the contrary, it seems to us that the practice of singling out certain States selectively is not the most appropriate way to obtain the acceptance of international treaties by those States. Argentina takes the view that the concerns about the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region are reflected more faithfully and in a more balanced fashion in draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.16, “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”.

Mr. Yativ (Israel): I would like to explain our vote on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.21. Israel attaches great importance to the establishment of regional confidence-building measures as a necessary step in promoting peace and security in our region. In the special area of regional security and arms control, there is in our view a necessary sequence of confidence-building measures that needs to be followed. It includes measures that in the first instance do not impair the national security of the negotiating partners and can be established on a bilateral or a multilateral basis. These are at the moment being negotiated in the talks of the Working Group on Arms Control and Regional Security in the Middle East. Once agreed, they have to be tested over time in order to establish real confidence.

Confidence-building measures of a more pervasive nature — and certainly arms control — require that all States of the region abjure war in settling conflicts and participate in negotiations, followed by a proven and durable peace. Such peace is of course contingent primarily on political accommodation. Israel has demonstrated good will and acted in several areas to establish confidence-building measures with its neighbours; these include the regional communication hub, the promotion of an agreement on search and rescue at sea and an agreement on early notification of predatory activities.

Mr. Than (Myanmar): My delegation would like to explain its vote on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.

Myanmar has been a consistent and ardent advocate of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and other related nuclear-arms-limitation measures. However, we believe that a country-specific draft resolution such as the present one will not help achieve these goals. We are sympathetic to and supportive of the main thrust of the latter part of operative paragraph 1 and the whole of operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, which, without being country-specific, call on all States in the region to renounce the nuclear option and to adhere to the non-proliferation Treaty if they have not yet done so. However, we have reservations about the first part of operative paragraph 1, which singles out Israel. For that reason, my delegation abstained in the voting on the draft resolution.

Miss Thomas (Jamaica): My delegation wishes to explain its vote on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1.

The Jamaican delegation voted in favour of this draft resolution because Jamaica is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and supports efforts to strengthen this Treaty and prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons. In previous years Jamaica abstained on resolutions under this agenda item. We appreciate the efforts of the sponsors to bring a more constructive text to the Committee. However, we would have preferred that this text not make specific reference to a single State, as this merely contributes to tensions within the region, and we had hoped that this reference could be avoided in the light of the positive developments in the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Chandra (India): My delegation wishes to explain its vote on the draft resolution on Israeli nuclear armament, which is contained in document A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1.

My delegation remains fully supportive, as in the past, of the Middle East peace process and of efforts to build peace and security in the Middle East. While we are at one with the general thrust of the draft resolution, which is directed towards the reduction of the threat of nuclear armaments in the Middle East, we feel that it seeks to address the nuclear issue in a much-too-compartmentalized fashion. Given the global reach of nuclear weapons, the nuclear threat can be effectively dealt with only on a global basis, not on a regional one. We also cannot support the calls upon all States of the region to adhere to the non-proliferation Treaty, as in our view the Treaty is inherently flawed and discriminatory, dividing the world into haves and have-nots, and has done little to curb proliferation. Above all, regional arrangements should be arrived at only on the basis of agreement of all the States of the region concerned, which appears to be lacking in this case.

Accordingly, our delegation was constrained to abstain on this draft resolution. We believe that the Middle East peace process will help reduce the threat to security in the region and will also afford the opportunity to enter into appropriate regional disarmament and confidence-building measures on a consensual basis.

Mr. Baruni (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) (interpretation from Arabic): We voted in favour of draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, on Israeli nuclear armament. Nevertheless, we have reservations on certain provisions of the text that imply recognition of Israel. We have reservations also on all parts of the text that deal with the peace process in the Middle East. At a time when the international community is witnessing positive developments in many forums towards ridding the world of nuclear armaments and other weapons of mass destruction, Israel still possesses a large arsenal of nuclear armaments, which undermines peace and security in the region. Israel is perfecting these weapons and their means of delivery even more, despite repeated calls by the international community on Israel to accede to the non-proliferation Treaty and to subject all its nuclear facilities to the system of guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). My delegation believes that such calls are not sufficient in themselves: the international community should engage in further efforts to ensure the elimination of all Israeli nuclear weapons, in order to create a world that is more stable and more just for all parties. 

Mr. Hoffmann (Germany): I am speaking on behalf of the European Union, as well as the four applicant States and Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The States on whose behalf I have the honour to speak decided to abstain on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.

We recognize that substantive and genuine efforts have been made vis-à-vis last year’s resolution in order to accommodate concerns expressed. However, despite all these efforts, the draft resolution still singles out Israel. We had to abstain for the following reasons: The agenda item “Israeli nuclear armament” and the submission again this year of a draft resolution singling out Israel are not in the spirit of the peace process under way in the Middle East — all the more so since another draft resolution, relating to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, which calls upon all States in the region to adhere to the non-proliferation Treaty and welcomes the Mubarak Plan, is adopted each year by consensus. As a result, the group of States for which I am speaking has changed its common vote from “no” to abstention.

Mr. Starr (Australia): The Australian delegation has a number of comments on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. My delegation abstained on that draft resolution.

The past year has seen a substantial improvement in the security climate in several parts of the world, including the Middle East, where there are good prospects of further progress in the peace process. In this context, the Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security Working Group has continued its constructive efforts, and Australia has been particularly pleased to support and participate in this work. Australia has consistently urged Israel and other States, both parties and non-parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to live up to the standards of international behaviour set forth in the Treaty. We appeal to the few remaining States not parties to the Treaty, particularly those that operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, to adhere to the Treaty.

Australia’s abstention on this draft resolution, therefore, should not be interpreted as anything less than complete support for calls on Israel to adhere to the non-proliferation Treaty and to accept full-scope safeguards on all its nuclear facilities. We fully share the concerns expressed in this draft resolution; we also support the establishment in the Middle East of a nuclear-weapon-free zone and a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.


Mr. Madden (United States of America): I wish to address draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1.

As a first point, let me say that the United States fully supports universal adherence to the non-proliferation Treaty, and we have made that clear to all States that have not adhered to the Treaty, including Israel. That said, let me explain why the United States has voted against draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, on Israeli nuclear armament.

Last year, in view of the changing circumstances in the Middle East, many delegations joined in voting against a draft resolution on Israeli nuclear armament that was one-sided. These delegations stood solidly behind a clearly defined principle —namely, that the draft resolution should not single out Israel for special treatment. Although this year’s draft was improved in many areas over last year’s text, it regrettably did not erase the distinction in the text between Israel and other regional States that have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation Treaty. We view this year’s draft resolution as counter-productive and inappropriate, particularly considering recent progress in the Middle East peace process. In practice, this text does nothing more than duplicate the draft resolution on the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, which we support and expect again to be adopted by consensus.


The meeting rose at 5.15 p.m.


Changes in recorded and/or roll-call votes

Draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.44/Rev.1

Subsequent to the voting, the delegations of Bahrain, Guatemala, Kuwait, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates advised the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour. 

Document symbol: A/C.1/49/PV.23
Document Type: Meeting record
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 17/11/1994
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