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

General Assembly


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

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Committee

23rd Meeting (AM)



Committee Chair Says World Community Must Escape Trap of Narrow

Self- Interest to Avert Potential Catastrophe of Nuclear Proliferation


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to complete its third and final phase of work, namely, action on all draft resolutions and decisions.

Expected to be acted on under cluster 6, which deals with other disarmament measures, was a draft on transparency in armaments.

Action is also expected on cluster 7, which concerns itself with disarmament machinery, on a draft entitled Report of the Disarmament Commission.

Draft Summaries

Cluster 6

According to a draft resolution entitled Transparency in armaments (document A/C.1/60/L.50/Rev 1), the Assembly would reaffirm its determination to ensure the effective operation of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.

The Assembly would call on Member States, with a view to achieving the Register’s universal participation, to provide the Secretary-General, by 31 May, annually, with the requested data and information for the Register, including nil reports if appropriate.

Pending the Register’s further development, the Assembly would invite Member States in a position to do so to provide additional information on procurement from national production and military holdings and to make use of the “Remarks” column in the standardized reporting form to provide additional information, such as types or models and to include transfers of small arms and light weapons, using definitions and reporting measures they deem appropriate, as part of their additional background information. 

On behalf of the Arab League, Egypt’s representative, said that for a few years now, the League had expressed its commitment to the Register.  Its position had been clear and based on a general orientation towards global disarmament, which, in turn, was based on the specific situation in the Middle East.  The League supported transparency in armaments as a way of strengthening international peace and security.  It also believed that, in order for that type of instrument to succeed, it had to be based on fundamental principles, which were balanced, transparent and non-discriminatory, and which strengthened peace for all States.  The Register had been the first attempt by the international community, however late, to deal with the issue of transparency, globally.  No one could doubt the Register’s value as a global means for strengthening early warning and confidence, but it had several problems, including that more than half of the nations said they would not provide it with the necessary information.

It was also necessary to broaden the Register’s scope.  There had been several States in the group of governmental experts that had felt that the Register had not met their security needs, given its current limited scope.  Therefore, the question of the Register depended on the international community’s will to strengthen transparency and build confidence.  The Register’s scope should encompass data on all sophisticated weapons, and it should also encompass technology.  That expanded domain would lend a balanced, non-discriminatory nature to the Register and allow for greater involvement in it.  The Middle East was a special case, where the lack of qualitative balance in weapons was clear.  Transparency could not be guaranteed and confidence could not be built unless the parties followed a comprehensive path.  A seventh category of weapons for the Register, which included nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, would produce the desired results.

He said Israel possessed the most destructive types of weapons and it was the only State in the region not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  Israel was insisting on ignoring calls by the international community, launched on several occasions, to join the NPT and submit its nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s comprehensive safeguards system.  That had prompted the NPT States to insist, during Review Conferences, on the need for Israel to take those measures.  The League deeply regretted that, given the failure of the group of experts to broaden the Register’s domain, holdings in national warehouses and nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction were not covered. 

Failure to include those weapons was a failure of the Register itself, he added.  In fact, it had no reason to exist in its current form; it did not strengthen confidence, nor was it a means of early warning.  In that light, the League had a reservation regarding the methodology of the draft resolution on the proposal to create a group of experts.  If was necessary to treat those considerations and concerns of States in the region, in order to guarantee universal involvement in the Register.

Expressing his full support for the Arab League’s position, Syria’s representative said he fully supported the global desire to rid the world of the use and threat of the use of force.  He was prepared to participate in any global effort to achieve that goal.  The draft resolution, however, had not taken into consideration the special situation of the Middle East, where the Arab-Israeli conflict was still raging, and where Israel continued to occupy Arab territories, refusing to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions.  It also acquired the most sophisticated and lethal weaponry, in addition to its ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.  The transparency alleged by Israel in the field of armaments was just a mere part of its lethal arsenals.

The representative of the Sudan said his delegation wasn’t in the room when voting was underway on L.50/Rev 1.  He wanted to add the Sudan’s voice to the Arab position and his delegation would have abstained on the whole resolution.  The resolution did not take into consideration the full sensitivity of the situation in the Middle East with regard to complete transparency in armaments.

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For information media • not an official record 

Document symbol: GA/DIS/3314
Document Type: Press Release
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 01/11/2005

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