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

Official Records

General Assembly

Forty-ninth session

First Committee

22nd meeting

Thursday, 17 November 1994, 10.30 a.m.

New York

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

The meeting was called to order at 11 a.m.

Agenda items 68 to 73 and 153 (continued)

Action on draft resolutions  submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items

The Chairman: This morning we shall proceed to take decisions on the draft resolutions contained in clusters 1, 5 and 7 — namely, draft resolutions A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, L.28, L.31, L.36, L.21, L.7/Rev.1 and L.49/Rev.1.

I now call upon the Secretary of the Committee.

Mr. Kheradi (Secretary of the Committee): I should like to inform the Committee that the following countries have become co-sponsors of the following draft resolutions: Mauritania, draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1; Italy and Belgium, draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.22/Rev.1; Italy, draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.44/Rev.1.

The Chairman: I call upon the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who wishes to speak in explanation of vote.

Mr. Moradi (Islamic Republic of Iran): I should like to explain my delegation’s vote on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, submitted under agenda item 65, “Israeli nuclear armament”. This year the sponsors decided to change the traditional title of the draft resolution without giving us adequate reasons.

Despite repeated calls by the General Assembly on Israel to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to put its nuclear-weapons programme under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, there has been no change in Israel’s position in this respect. We now see that, despite that refusal, substantive changes have been introduced into the text of the draft resolution, namely, into its title.

I would recall that a majority of the States in the region are parties to the NPT and have safeguards agreements with the IAEA. The only menace in the region comes from Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme.

Therefore, my delegation expresses its regret at the new changes introduced into the draft resolution. We express our strong reservations about the title of the draft resolution and paragraph 4. We consider that these changes reward a regional nuclear proliferator that has rejected repeated calls by the General Assembly to accede to the NPT and to place its nuclear-weapons programme under IAEA safeguards.

I also wish to express our strong reservations about the fifth preambular paragraph, which refers to the so-called “Middle East peace process”. We believe that the so-called peace process will not lead to the full restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people or to the establishment of a lasting, just and comprehensive peace in the region.

The Chairman: The Committee will have adequate time for explanations of vote or position before action is taken on each of the draft resolutions. For the moment, delegations should confine themselves to explaining their votes or positions on texts on which the Committee has already taken action.


The Chairman: I shall now call on those delegations wishing to make statements other than in explanation of their position on draft resolutions.

Mr. Tayeb (Saudi Arabia) (interpretation from Arabic):  My delegation wishes to make a few comments on the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.

Saudi Arabia is one of the sponsors of this draft resolution, since nuclear proliferation in our region represents a major danger — a frightful spectre that hangs over the lives of the region’s peoples and poses a threat to international peace and security. I have asked to speak in order to reaffirm that the positive developments and the peace process in the Middle East — in which my country is a full participant — have not been accompanied, despite what many of us would have imagined, by any tangible steps towards nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, owing to Israel’s continuing refusal to deal with this issue in a practical, objective and pragmatic manner within the framework of the peace process in the Middle East.

That is a posture that not only contradicts the peaceful climate that has been engendered in the region, but also poses a major obstacle to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and durable solution to the region’s problem. It cannot be imagined that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace could be established in the region with the existing imbalances in regional security and the monopoly by one country of so many major military advantages.

It is only natural, in view of the existing dichotomy between the peace process and the issue of nuclear disarmament in the Middle East region, that the matter should be brought to this Committee. It is only normal, therefore, to appeal to Israel, as the only country in the Middle East that possesses advanced nuclear capabilities without any international guarantees, to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to place all its nuclear facilities under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This important and fundamental measure is an absolute necessity for confidence-building and for ensuring the security of the region. 


Mr. Hasan (Iraq) (interpretation from Arabic): The draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1 does not meet even the minimum of the concerns of the countries of the region regarding such a serious problem as Israeli nuclear armament.

Reference to the previous United Nations resolutions on the subject has been deleted from the draft. The draft resolution, in equating Israel’s position with that of the other countries in the region which have not yet acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), ignores the fact that those countries do not have any nuclear installations, whereas Israel has at least 200 nuclear warheads, according to the most modest of estimates, the latest of which was published by Jane’s Intelligence Review in its last issue.

The draft resolution makes no reference at all to Security Council resolution 487 (1981), in which the Council called upon Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency, nor does it mention paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), wherein the Council considered the steps taken by Iraq in the area of arms limitation as important steps towards making the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

The draft also substituted for the original title of the item a new title which does not reflect the specificity of the Israeli nuclear threat to the States of the region.

Finally, my delegation wishes to express its reservations on a reference in the fifth preambular paragraph of the draft resolution, which prejudges negotiations that are now under way in the region.

None of last year’s developments indicated any intention on the part of Israel to reconsider its position regarding the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The international community should deal with the dangers of nuclear proliferation with one single standard that does not distinguish between extreme East Asia and extreme West Asia.


Chairman: I will now call on those delegations wishing to explain their vote before the voting.

Mr. Yativ (Israel): It had been Israel’s hope and expectation that the outstanding developments in the peace process in the Middle East would leave a positive mark on the Committee’s deliberations and resolutions at the current session. We had hoped that this year the obsolete draft resolution under agenda item 65, “Israeli nuclear armament”, would not be submitted. To our dismay, and to the dismay of other peacemakers, this did not happen.

The draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, takes us back, both in caption and content, to the old norms, which do not befit either the spirit or the actual new political reality evolving in our region.

I also wish to make some observations in reference to the presentation made in connection with this draft resolution. It is well known that the draft resolution was conceived years ago and was retained over the years for political purposes. It had no other purpose, since its substance appears in the resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, including the call to join the non-proliferation Treaty. It still has but one purpose: to perpetuate, directly or indirectly, the arraignment of Israel in this Committee.

An attempt was made to convince the Committee that the draft resolution did not single out Israel. That argument will not stand up to simple scrutiny, and there is no doubt that the State of Israel is once again being blatantly singled out for censure. The singling out of Israel is ill conceived and certainly not conducive to the building of confidence, to which the sponsors are ostensibly committed.

It will be recalled that Israel is still faced with tremendous security problems. A number of States still deny its legitimacy, and do not agree to negotiate peace. Therefore, the right equation for security and peace is not “total equality”, which cannot be reached, because of the structural asymmetries of Middle East realities; security and peace are to be arrived at through, first, political accommodation and reconciliation and, secondly, equal margins of security.

Israel will continue its endeavours to attain full and comprehensive peace with all its neighbours. At the same time, Israel will continue to advocate direct negotiations, as they are being conducted now, as the only way to deal with arms control in the region. That includes the nuclear issue, which will be dealt with in due course in the appropriate forum within the multilateral talks.

As the Secretary-General has underlined, the nuclear issue should be dealt with, not in a political vacuum, but in the context of peace, once outstanding problems have been solved. Hence, the primacy of peace must be given due acknowledgement. The peace process in all its facets deserves the support and encouragement of the international community, especially at this moment.

At its forty-eighth session the General Assembly reacted to the new reality of the Middle East by beginning to change obsolete resolutions. This item should not have been on the agenda at all, and its inclusion again this year in a “moderate version” takes us back to the days when the Arab-Israeli conflict dominated the region of the Middle East. Hence, we strongly urge the members of the Committee to cast a negative vote on this draft resolution, which will naturally constitute a vote in favour of the ongoing peace process.


The Chairman: We shall now take action on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1. I call on the Secretary of the Committee.

Mr. Kheradi (Secretary of the Committee): Draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, was introduced by the representative of Egypt at the 16th meeting of the Committee, on 9 November 1994, and it is sponsored by the following countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Djibouti.

The Chairman: The Committee will now take a decision on draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.11/Rev.1. A recorded vote has been requested.

A recorded vote was taken.

In favour:

Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe


Argentina, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), United States of America


Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Tajikistan, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay

Draft resolution A/C.l/49/L.11/Rev.l was adopted by 55 votes to 5, with 82 abstentions.


The meeting rose at 12.50 p.m.

Document symbol: A/C.1/49/PV.22
Document Type: Meeting record
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 17/11/1994
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