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

Official Records

General Assembly

Forty-ninth session

First Committee

14th meeting

Monday, 7 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 all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security agenda items


The Chairman (interpretation from Spanish): I now call on the representative of Egypt who will introduce draft resolution A/C.1/49/L.16, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East".

Mr. Elaraby (Egypt) (interpretation from Arabic): It gives me pleasure to present today the draft resolution contained in document A/C.1/49/L.16, on the "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East".  This resolution has, over the past 20 years, traditionally been submitted at successive sessions of the General Assembly.

With the passage of time, this initiative has acquired broad support on both the international and the regional levels. It has without a doubt become a cornerstone of the efforts towards disarmament and arms control in the Middle East. It laid a basis for the principles of disarmament, and has contributed to the global trend towards curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The unprecedented developments that the Middle East region has witnessed since the peace process began in Madrid, and the outcome of the process, recent agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel and between Jordan and Israel, bear witness to the fact that the Middle East has entered a new phase in relations between the States of the region. Now that all the parties have clearly demonstrated their readiness to take practical and specific steps to eliminate all causes of tension and conflict, and now that they have resolved to establish normal relations based on the principles of international law set out in the Charter, it is now legitimate to hope that the implementation of an initiative for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone will be possible and that the initiative would strengthen the principle that there must be a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The positive atmosphere prevailing in the Middle East requires all of us – countries of the Middle East and all other members of the international community – to work together to strengthen the peace process and its foundations so that more may be achieved, particularly with regard to disarmament, which will enable us to face challenges without clinging to obsolete theories.

All the countries of the Middle East have the right to their national security. It is inconceivable that any would compromise on anything that is fundamental to meeting that legitimate concern. We are confident that realizing that basic principle is indispensable for promoting success in the peace process and widening its framework. But we should reiterate in that regard the necessity to respect the principle of equality – the total equality of the States of the region – in particular with regard to their level of security.  Any security imbalances would undoubtedly lead to a lack of trust and confidence and would undermine the credibility of the new situation.

No party should call for an arrangement that would mean its enjoying a special or exceptional status. Such calls would only undermine peace and throw the Middle East once again into the vicious circle of an arms race in a desperate attempt to deal with security imbalances.

The initiative to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone, presented in the draft resolution, would guarantee balanced security in the Middle East. It would lay the foundation for the rights and obligations of the States of the region and would make a great contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation regime, which has become more important to the international community, as it promises a brighter future.

Communication channels and mechanisms, whether bilateral or multilateral, have become available to all Middle East States, and those States should use them to tackle all the basic security and stability issues in the region and to achieve the necessary, practical solutions to these issues.  Foremost among them is the need to face up to the dangers of nuclear proliferation – in particular, through providing the necessary framework to implement the initiative as soon as possible.

There is no doubt that serious, timely handling of all the security factors in the region is the true way to guarantee tangible progress acceptable to all parties.  Disregarding any factor in this very complex equation, or giving more weight to one factor over another, would be interpreted as an attempt to impose preconditions on the negotiating process, thus undermining the peace process.

I should not fail to mention in this regard the April 1990 initiative by President Mubarak on the establishment of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. That initiative was taken up in a Security Council resolution, and it is also mentioned in the present draft resolution. It has gained wide support.

There is an organic link between the two initiatives.  They both have the same objective – the establishment of security and confidence – and they deal with the dangers of the proliferation of all three types of excessively dangerous weapons, in a manner commensurate with the danger posed by those weapons.

Implementing the initiative to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would be considered a major step giving momentum to the peace and reconciliation efforts in a new atmosphere of trust and confidence. It would also be in line with the global demand to enhance the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and implement its seventh article.

The draft resolution contains the usual basic elements that should be taken into account in order to eliminate the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. First, every country of the region should accede to the NPT. Secondly, all nuclear facilities in the Middle East should be subjected to the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Thirdly, all countries of the Middle East should cease to produce or possess such weapons or have them on their territories. Respect for these basic principles by all the countries of the Middle East and every country outside the region would be the main guarantee of the region’s protection against the scourge of the arms race and would truly contribute to the globalization of the NPT.

In preparing the draft resolution we have paid great attention to preserving a balance, which has guaranteed consensus over the years. We have conducted in-depth consultations with many delegations in an atmosphere of cooperation. We have also demonstrated our willingness to include in the draft resolution all positive elements and ideas that would contribute to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in a way that would guarantee consensus in the General Assembly, while reiterating the importance all members of the international community attach to this positive initiative.


The meeting rose at 4.50 p.m.

Document symbol: A/C.1/49/PV.14
Document Type: Meeting record
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 07/11/1994
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