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

7th Meeting (AM)



NPT Regime Weaknesses, Threat from Clandestine Nuclear

Weapon Programmes, Pre-emptive Nuclear Doctrine among Issues Raised


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to conclude its general debate.



Also urgent was the need to create additional nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world, he said.  That was the shortest route to foster the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  Numerous States had signed treaties for such zones, which now represented 50 per cent of the globe, but many tense regions were still awaiting progress in that regard.  The Middle East, for example, could have become a nuclear-weapon-free zone had it not been for Israel’s continuous refusal to subject its nuclear facilities to the IAEA safeguards regime.  That had threatened stability and security in the region and the world.  He saluted Libya’s courageous initiative to voluntarily rid itself of its weapons of mass destruction programmes.  For its part, the Sudan was a real partner in global efforts to achieve disarmament.  The tension in the Great Lakes region had caused small arms to proliferate.  He was paying special attention to disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of former combatants, and he looked forward to international and regional support on the technical aspects of that process.  The world must be made secure, so that the focus could be on peace, stability and sustainable development, and not on the machinery of war and destruction.


He called for a restructured security architecture in the Middle East, based on the foundation of cooperation, whereby each State would be reassured of the safety of its population and its peaceful existence.  That should start with confidence-building measures, enhancing trust and strengthening security.  Reducing threats to regional security would pave the way for the reduction in arms accumulation and the arms race in all its aspects, thus giving the economy, education and social components of national security the leading role it deserved.  Regarding the establishment of a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the region, Israel supported the eventual establishment of a mutually and effectively verifiable zone free of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their delivery means.  The political realities in the Middle East mandated a practical step-by-step approach.  That process should begin with modest confidence-building measures, followed by the establishment of peaceful relations, reconciliation and good-neighbourliness.  That could possibly be complemented by conventional and non-conventional arms control measures, and lead to more ambitious goals as the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. 


Regional security remained one of the most important challenges the international community must address, he said.  The way ahead was through confidence-building and joint efforts among States. The Middle East was one of the volatile regions of the world, and it could ignite given the prevailing strategic imbalances, the double standards and the race to acquire different types of nuclear and traditional weaponry.  The fact that the international community condoned the development of the Israeli nuclear arsenal in the Middle East and failed to demand that Israel cease such development had created an abnormal situation that prompted others to follow suit.  Such a course of action exacerbated instability and aggravated tension.  It was not right to impose international sanctions on some States and exempt others from equal treatment.  All weapons of mass destruction needed to be eliminated.

MOHAMMED AQEEL BA’OMAR ( Oman) said it was a critical time for the international community.  The NPT had not reached universality, the CTBT had not been entered into force and no disarmament issues had been involved in the 2005 Summit Outcome.  The unstable security situation in the Middle East was of particular concern.  His country had acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, NPT and the CTBT.  All conventions should reflect the global will that was based on transparency and credibility in order to ensure its universality.  The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was worthy of the international community’s attention and support.  Such a zone not only enhanced regional stability, but promoted international peace and security.

He said the fact that Israel still refused to join the collective security consensus by staying out of the NPT mechanism was cause for great concern.  Such a situation would have dire consequences on international peace and security.  He called for Israel to accede to the NPT and to subject all its nuclear facilities to the IAEA, as well as for all States that had not yet ratified the NPT to do so immediately.  At the same time, all States had the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Finally, the use of multilateral principles in approaching disarmament issues was critical.

SAJA MAJALI ( Jordan) …

… The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was pivotal, especially in the Middle East.  Furthermore, Israel’s accession to the NPT was vital.


Despite the sincere efforts and good intentions of a great majority of States parties to the NPT from all corners of the world, the 2005 Review Conference ended without result, owing to the same policy of the same nuclear-weapon State.  Just before the start of the NPT Conference, a high-ranking United States official announced that “`Article VI of the NPT was just one sentence long’” and nuclear disarmament did not exist.  He further argued that the unequivocal undertaking for nuclear disarmament in the 2000 NPT Review Conference was a thing of the past.  Those same positions had led to the 2005 Conference’s failure and also extended to negotiations of the World Summit Outcome.  In a position paper on the disarmament and non-proliferation section of that text, distributed by the United States delegation, all references to disarmament were deleted, except the title.  That was a clear indication that no political determination existed on that delegation’s behalf to reach agreement on the disarmament section. 

Furthermore, while 117 countries participated in the recent CTBT Conference on facilitating that Treaty’s entry into force, the same nuclear-weapon State had refrained from attending the Conference, owing to its ideological opposition to the Treaty, he said.  It simultaneously continued to follow up the plans for reducing the time needed for nuclear tests, for which it had allocated millions of dollars.  That had seriously called into question its commitment on a nuclear testing moratorium.  Actions and policies rigorously pursued by the United States, without the slightest regard for the concerns of the rest of the international community, clearly indicated what lay ahead, if unchecked.  It was no wonder that that country had been trying to create smokescreens in the international forums to deflect attention from its record and actions, by “politically charging the superficial concerns over the peaceful nuclear programme of others”. 

While that nuclear-weapon State “cries wolf” about the risk of proliferation by the peaceful activities of NPT Member States whose facilities were under full-scope IAEA safeguards, ironically, it had concluded agreements for the transfer of all kinds of nuclear technology to non-parties to the NPT, he said.  The United States’ 2000 nuclear cooperation agreement with Israel, the only non-party in the Middle East with clandestine nuclear weapon facilities, was in clear contradiction with its so-called non-proliferation strategy.  Transfer of nuclear weapons technology to Israel and other forms of “nuclear sharing” constituted the non-compliance of the United States with its NPT obligations.  Those cases were clear evidence that the so-called proliferation concern over the peaceful nuclear activities of some countries was just a pretext for pursuing political objectives and imposing a new “nuclear apartheid”. 

ANDA FILIP, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), …

The IPU was convinced that the NPT was the best possible way to eliminate the threat of nuclear attacks once and for all, and it was concerned with the breakdown of talks on the NPT.  The IPU was also supportive of the CTBT and the call for its early entry into force.  IPU members had urged the further development of nuclear-weapon-free-zones, including in the Middle East.  …

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For information media • not an official record 

Document symbol: GA/DIS/3299
Document Type: Press Release
Document Sources: General Assembly
Subject: Arms control and regional security issues
Publication Date: 07/10/2005

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