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

General Assembly

GA/DIS/3309


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


Sixtieth General Assembly

First Committee

18th Meeting* (PM)

NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONES, BOLSTERING GLOBAL NON-PROLIFERATION REGIME,

AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS FIRST COMMITTEE APPROVES 21 DRAFT TEXTS

Importance of Test-Ban Treaty, Risk of Middle East Nuclear

Proliferation, Assurances for Non-Nuclear-Weapon States Also Highlighted

(Issued on 25 October 2005.)

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its third and final phase of work, namely action on all draft resolutions and decisions.  It had before it texts related to nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, regional disarmament and security, disarmament machinery and other disarmament measures.

Expected to be acted on under cluster 1, which concerns nuclear weapons, are drafts on:  a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; missiles; the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone treaty; prohibition of the dumping of radioactive waste; a United Nations conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers; a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; consolidation of the regime established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco); Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; nuclear disarmament; the conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons; reducing nuclear danger; and a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons.

Draft Summaries

A draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.3) would have the Assembly urge all parties directly concerned to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.  To promote that objective, the Assembly would invite those countries concerned not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit the stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.  It would also call upon countries of the region that had not done so, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

By further terms, the Assembly would invite all countries of the region, pending the establishment of such a zone, to declare their support for it, and to deposit those declarations with the Security Council.  A related provision would have the Assembly invite nuclear-weapon States and all other States to assist in the zone’s establishment, and to refrain from any action that ran counter to both the letter and the spirit of the resolution.

By the terms of a draft decision sponsored by Egypt, Indonesia and Iran on Missiles (document A/C.1/60/L.5), the Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-first session the item entitled “Missiles”.

A draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6) would have the Assembly, noting that Israel remained the only State in the Middle East that was not a party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), would call on it to accede to the Treaty without further delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, and to renounce possession of nuclear weapons, and to place all its un-safeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security.

The Assembly would also welcome the conclusions on the Middle East of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  It would ask the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its next session on implementation of the present text.

The draft resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Action on Drafts

Speaking in explanation of vote before action was taken, the representative of the United Kingdom, who spoke on behalf of the European Union, referring to the text on the Risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6), said that although his delegation supported its general thrust, it was concerned that it did not cover some relevant recent developments.  The European Union would vote in favour of the draft and would call on all States in the region that had not done so to conclude the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol.

The European Union shared the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme.  That country’s non-compliance with its Safeguards obligations raised serious questions and was not compatible with the international non-proliferation regime.  It was of critical importance for all States in the Middle East to accede to relevant non-proliferation treaties and conventions, but also that all parties to the treaties and conventions implement fully their obligations under those instruments.

The representative of Israel, speaking in explanation of vote on the text concerning the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6), said that once again the Committee had been called upon to vote on a text that was one-sided and undermined, rather than enhanced, the situation among States in the region.  Surprisingly enough the resolution ignored evidence regarding States that joined international arrangements, but did not comply with them.  It also ignored the outright hostility of States in the region towards Israel.  The text focused on only one State, Israel, which had never posed a threat to any of its neighbours.  Indeed, the text singled out Israel, as did no other text considered by any body in the United Nations.  It did not lend the Committee any credibility, he added, calling on all members to reconsider and vote against it.

Turning to the text on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (A/C.1/60/L.26), he said that Israel had participated in all negations on that instrument, as well as efforts to develop the verification regime.  It had decided to vote in favour of the text because of the importance it attached to the objective of the CTBT, over and above its objection to some of the language included.

The representative of Norway aligned his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the European Union on the draft on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6).

Action on Texts

Taking up the draft on establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.3), the Committee approved it without a vote.

The Committee then approved, in a separate vote, preambular paragraph six of the resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6) by a vote of 145 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Cameroon, Mauritius, Pakistan, United States).  (Annex II)

Taking up the draft as a whole, the resolution was approved by a vote of 149 to 2 against, ( Israel, United States), with 4 abstentions ( Cameroon, Ethiopia, India, Australia).  (Annex III)

Explanation of Vote

The representative of Canada said his delegation had voted in favour of the text on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6), but would stress that all States in the Middle East should devote unequivocal commitment to non-proliferation in that region.  Canada was concerned that the text did not include language reflective of recent IAEA decisions concerning Iran’s non-compliance with the NPT.  The text could have been strengthened by such a reference, along with a call for Iran to comply with the IAEA decisions.

The representative of Australia said he supported a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  He strongly supported the universality of the NPT.  But, there were substantive difficulties with the text on the issue, notably the emphasis on the State of Israel, with no reference to other States or their nuclear concerns.   Iran had been in non-compliance with the nuclear safeguard agreement.  The proposed resolution made no references to the international community and their concern on that matter.

The representative of Iran said the idea of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone was as important a disarmament measure now as when it was first initiated by Iran in 1974.  The repeated adoption of that resolution was a manifestation of global support.  Unfortunately, due to the non-adherence of Israel to the NPT, or to place its facilities under the IAEA nuclear safeguard system, realization of the group had yet to be realized.  It was the irresponsible behaviour of that regime that put the establishment of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in serious doubt.  All countries in the Middle East region, except for Israel, had become States parties to the treaties.  The international community must now exert pressure on Israel to accede to the NPT and place its facilities under safeguard.  As a State party to the NPT, Iran was committed to that international undertaking.

The representative of Switzerland said he wanted to explain his vote on the resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6).  He voted in favour of it.  The resolution called for the universality of the NPT and asked for the only country that had not joined the treaty, to do so.   Switzerland attached a bigger importance to the existing obligations.  In that context, the full cooperation with the IAEA was essential.  His country was also concerned by the situation that had developed recently concerning such cooperation.  The text was against nuclear proliferation throughout the region.  The authors of the resolution should take into account the current context.

The representative of Israel said that his delegation had joined consensus on the draft on a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East, notwithstanding its reservations on certain elements of the text.  It had always been Israel’s view that the matter should be dealt with within the region and could not be imposed from outside.  All States in the region should participate, he added, and the creation of such a zone should be taken one step at a time, starting with discussions between parties and efforts at reconciliation within the region.  Mutual recognition was also an important step, particularly since some States refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The representative of Ethiopia said, on preambular paragraph 6 of the resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (L.6), Ethiopia had intended to abstain.

The representative of Syria had abstained on the text on the CTBT (document A/C.1/60/L.26), as he had had stated time and again that such an important treaty and the future commitments emanating therefrom should in no way ignore the concerns on non-nuclear States, which had received no guarantees of non-use or threat of use of such weapons.  The text allowed signatories to take measures against non-signatories, including measures taken by the Security Council.  Such loopholes were to be viewed with grave concern.  Syria also rejected the fact that there was no mention of Israel, which had refused to join the IAEA or subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s inspectors.


ANNEX I

ANNEX II

Vote on Preambular Paragraph 6/Middle East Nuclear Proliferation

The sixth preambular paragraph of the draft resolution on Middle East nuclear proliferation (document A/C.1/60/L.6) was approved by a recorded vote of 145 in favour to 2 against, with 5 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against:  India, Israel.

Abstain:  Bhutan, Cameroon, Mauritius, Pakistan, United States.

Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe.

ANNEX III

Vote on Middle East Nuclear Proliferation

The draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/60/L.6) was approved by a recorded vote of 149 in favour to 2 against, with 4 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against:  Israel, United States

Abstain:  Australia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, India.

Absent:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe.

* *** *


For information media • not an official record 


Document symbol: GA/DIS/3309
Document Type: Press Release
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 24/10/2005
2019-03-12T16:33:18-04:00

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