Press Releases

    GA/DIS/3240
    28 October 2002

    STRENGTHENED MEANS TO KEEP TERRORISTS FROM
    ACQUIRING MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS CALLED FOR
    IN ONE OF NINE DRAFT RESOLUTIONS APPROVED
    BY DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE

    Texts also Address Nuclear Weapon Elimination, Dual-Use Technology,
    Middle East Nuclear Proliferation, Multilateralism, Central Asia, among Others

    NEW YORK, 25 October (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would call on Member States to support global efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, according to one of nine draft resolutions approved this morning in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

    The draft text, presented by India and approved without a vote, would also have the Assembly urge all Member States to undertake and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring mass destruction weapons, their delivery means and related materials and technologies, and invite them to inform the Secretary-General, on a voluntary basis, of steps taken in that regard.

    Voicing his support for the draft, the representative of Pakistan underscored the urgent need to ensure that mass destruction weapons did not fall into the hands of terrorists. The best way to do that was to completely eliminate those weapons, especially nuclear weapons. Also important was the need to address the underlying causes of terrorism, namely suppression, injustice and deprivation, he said.

    The Committee defeated a draft resolution submitted by Iraq on the effects of depleted uranium in armaments, which would have requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of States and relevant organizations on all aspects of its use and report to the Assembly at its next session. The vote was 35 in favour to 59 against, with 56 abstentions. (For details of the vote, see Annex II).

    Reaffirming that any possibility that nuclear weapons could be used was a continued risk for humanity, the Assembly would call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake the necessary steps towards the seamless integration of all five nuclear-weapon States into a process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, according to a draft sponsored by the New Agenda Coalition, entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda".

    The text by the New Agenda Coalition -- a group of seven countries (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden), which introduced a resolution at the fifty-third General Assembly calling for a nuclear-weapon-free world, -- was approved by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 7 against (France, India, Israel, Monaco, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions (see Annex I).

    A new draft resolution sponsored by the Netherlands on national legislation on transfers of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology received overwhelming support in a recorded vote of 160 in favour to none against, with no abstentions (see Annex VI).

    According to the revised text, the Assembly would invite Member States that were in a position to do so to enact or improve national legislation to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, consistent with States parties’ obligations under international treaties.

    The second preambular paragraph drew a lengthy debate before its approval. That provision recalled that the States parties to global disarmament and non-proliferation treaties had undertaken, inter alia, both to control transfers that could contribute to proliferation activities and to facilitate the fullest possible exchange of materials, equipment and technological information for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of those treaties.

    The Committee voted to retain the phrase "inter alia, both to control transfers that could contribute to proliferation activities and" by 117 in favour to none against, with 30 abstentions (see Annex V).

    Several speakers urged a balance between concerns over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on the one hand, and the requirements of the transfer of technology and military equipment and dual-use goods for health and economic prosperity, on the other hand. States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had the right to import all equipment and goods necessary for their development, they said.

    Cognizant that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would pose a serious threat to international peace and security, the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel's accession to the NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, according to a draft approved by a recorded vote of 150 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, United States), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu) (see Annex IV).

    Prior to approval of the draft as a whole, a separate vote was taken on the sixth preambular paragraph , which concerned the universality of the NPT and IAEA safeguards, by 153 in favour to 2 against (India, Israel), with 5 abstentions (Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Pakistan, United States, Vanuatu) (see Annex III).

    Speaking before the votes, Israel's representative called the text blatantly one-sided, contentious and divisive. He highlighted developments in the region directly related to the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, not the least of which was the sombre experience gained by United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA. Additional efforts to acquire mass destruction weapons and missile capability were also under way in the region.

    Another new draft resolution, entitled "Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation", was approved by a recorded vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 44 abstentions. It would reaffirm multilateralism as the core principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation, and urge participation in multilateral negotiations on arms regulation, non-proliferation and disarmament in a non-discriminatory manner (see Annex VII).

    Acting without a vote, the Assembly approved texts on the following: establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament; United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

    The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 28 October, to continue taking action on all draft resolutions and decisions.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue action on draft resolutions and decisions from the following clusters: nuclear weapons; conventional weapons; disarmament machinery; related matters of disarmament and international security; and international security.

    It had before it drafts concerning the following topics: the need for a new agenda; effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments; establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

    Action was also expected on the following texts: national legislation on the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology; the United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; and promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

    A draft resolution originally sponsored by the New Agenda Coalition, entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda" (document A/C.1/57/L.3/Rev.1), would have the General Assembly reaffirm that any possibility that nuclear weapons could be used was a continued risk for humanity and call upon nuclear-weapon States to undertake the necessary steps towards the seamless integration of all five nuclear-weapon States into a process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

    It would further call upon them to: implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) commitments to apply the principle of irreversibility by destroying their nuclear warheads in the context of strategic nuclear reductions and avoid keeping them in a state that lended itself to their possible redeployment; and to increase their transparency and accountability with regard to their nuclear weapon arsenals and their implementation of disarmament measures.

    Also: to respect fully their existing commitments with regard to security assurances, pending the conclusion of multilaterally negotiated legally binding security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States parties; to place their fissile material no longer required for military purposes under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or other relevant international verification; and to make arrangements for the disposition of such material for peaceful purposes, in order to ensure that such material remains permanently outside military programmes.

    The Assembly would underline the urgency of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It would stress the importance of upholding and maintaining the moratorium on nuclear-weapon-test explosions or any other nuclear explosions pending its entry into force. It would also call upon all States parties to pursue, with determination and continued vigour, the full and effective implementation of the substantial agreements reached at the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT.

    The Assembly would call upon those three States that were not yet parties to the NPT and that operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities to promptly accede to the Treaty without condition as non-nuclear-weapon States. Those States would also be called upon: to bring into force the required IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements; to reverse clearly and urgently any policies to pursue any nuclear weapons development or deployment; and to refrain from any action that could undermine regional and international peace and security and the efforts of the international community towards nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation.

    It would call upon those States that had not yet done so to conclude full-scope safeguards agreements with the IAEA and additional protocols to their safeguards agreements on the basis of the Model Protocol. It would also call for the completion and implementation of the Trilateral Initiative between the IAEA, the Russian Federation and the United States, and for consideration to be given to the possible inclusion of other nuclear-weapon States.

    By a further term, the Assembly would agree that the further reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons should be accorded priority and that nuclear-weapon States must live up to their commitments in this regard. It would also agree that reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons should be carried out in a transparent and irreversible manner and that the reduction and elimination of non-strategic nuclear weapons should be included in the overall arms reduction negotiations.

    In that context, urgent action would be taken to achieve: further reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process; further confidence-building and transparency measures to reduce the threats posed by non-strategic nuclear weapons; concrete agreed measures to reduce further the operational status of nuclear-weapons systems; and the formalizing of existing informal bilateral arrangements regarding non-strategic nuclear reductions.

    According to a draft resolution sponsored by Iraq, entitled "Effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments" (document A/C.1/57/L.14), the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of States and relevant organizations on all aspects of the effects of the use of depleted uranium in armaments and report thereon to the Assembly at its fifty-eighth session.

    By a draft resolution sponsored by the Central Asian States, entitled "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia" (document A/C.1/57/L.24/Rev.1), the Assembly would welcome the decision by all five Central Asian States to sign the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty as soon as possible.

    It would also invite those States to continue consulting with the five nuclear-weapon States on the draft treaty and its protocol for the establishment of the zone, in conformity with the 1999 Disarmament Commission agreed guidelines for establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General, within existing resources, to continue to provide assistance to those States in their further work for the early establishment of the zone.

    Under a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League of States on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/C.1/57/L.27), the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of Israel's accession to the NPT and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

    The Assembly would call upon that State to accede to the NPT without further delay and not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, and to renounce possession of those weapons, and place all its unsafeguarded 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.

    A draft resolution sponsored by the Netherlands, entitled "National legislation on transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology" (document A/C.1/57/L.18/Rev.1) would have the Assembly invite Member States that were in a position to do so, to enact or improve national legislation, regulations and procedures to exercise effective control over the transfer of arms, military equipment and dual-use goods and technology, while ensuring that such legislation, regulations and procedures were consistent with States parties’ obligations under international treaties.

    The Assembly would encourage Member States to provide, on a voluntary basis, that information to the Secretary-General, who would be requested to make that accessible for them. It would decide to include the item in the provisional agenda of its fifty-eighth session.

    According to a further text sponsored by South Africa on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament (document A/C.1/57/L.11), the Assembly would appeal to Member States in each region and those that were able to do so, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to contribute to the Regional Centres in their respective regions to strengthen their activities and initiatives.

    A draft resolution sponsored by Trinidad and Tobago on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/C.1/57/L.16), would have the Assembly reiterate its strong support for the role of the Centre and congratulate it for expanding the vast range of activities carried out last year in the field of peace, disarmament and development.

    The Centre would be asked to take into account the proposals to be submitted by the countries of the region in promoting confidence-building measures, arms control and limitation, transparency, disarmament and development at the regional level. The Assembly would appeal to Member States, particularly in the region, and to international governmental and non-governmental organizations to make and increase voluntary contributions to strengthen the Centre, its programmes of activities and their implementation.

    Under a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/C.1/57/L.35), the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to ensure the physical operation of the Centre from Kathmandu within six months of the date of signature of the host country agreement and to enable it to function effectively.

    The Assembly would appeal to Member States, in particular those within the Asia-Pacific region, as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions, the only resources of the Centre, to strengthen its programmes of activities and their implementation.

    According to a new draft resolution entitled "Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction" (document A/C.1/57/L.49/Rev.1), the Assembly, deeply concerned by the evidence of growing risk of linkages between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and especially that terrorists might seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, would call upon all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring those weapons and their delivery means.

    The Assembly would urge all Member States to undertake and strengthen national measures, as appropriate, to prevent terrorists from acquiring mass destruction weapons, their delivery means, and related materials and technologies. It would invite them to inform, on a voluntary basis, the Secretary-General of the measures taken in that regard, and request him to convene a panel of governmental experts, to be established in 2003, to undertake a study on the related issues.

    Under a draft resolution sponsored by South Africa on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, entitled "Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation" (document A/C.1/57/L.10), the Assembly would reaffirm multilateralism as the core principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

    It would urge the participation of all interested States in multilateral negotiations on arms regulation, non-proliferation and disarmament in a non-discriminatory manner. It would also call, once again, upon all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation.

    States parties to the relevant instruments on weapons of mass destruction would be asked to consult and cooperate among themselves in resolving their concerns with regard to cases of non-compliance, as well as on their implementation, in accordance with the procedures defined in those instruments. They would also be requested to refrain from resorting to, or threatening to resort to, unilateral actions, or directing unverified non-compliance accusations against one another.

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