Press Releases

     

    GA/DIS/3258
    22 October 2003

                                                                                                                                                 

    DISARMAMENT DRAFT TEXT CALLS FOR STRENGTHENED
    OUTER SPACE LEGAL REGIME TO AVERT
    “GRAVE DANGER” OF ARMS RACE

    One of 7 Draft Resolutions Introduced;

    Missiles, Reducing Nuclear Danger among Other Issues Addressed

    NEW YORK, 21 October (UN Headquarters) -- Asserting that it would be the greatest folly of the human race to allow outer space to become the next arena for an arms race, the representative of Sri Lanka introduced a draft today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), by which the General Assembly would call on all States, particularly with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to preventing such an arms race. 

    According to that text, one of seven tabled this morning, the Assembly, recognizing that the prevention of such an arms race would avert a grave danger for international peace and security, would reaffirm its recognition that the legal regime applicable to outer space did not, in and of itself, guarantee the prevention of an outer space arms race, and call for enhancing its effectiveness.

    Speaking in support of that draft, the Russian representative warned that space should not be converted into another theatre for military operations.  Today, there were no offensive weapons in outer space, but that did not exclude the possibility that they would not be stationed there in the future.  The eventual use of outer space for military objectives was very dangerous.  Unfortunately, existing norms did not provide a reliable shield against that occurring. 

    Introducing a draft resolution on missiles, by which another panel of governmental experts, to be established in 2004, would further explore the issue in all its aspects, the representative of Iran said that a permanent role had been reserved for missiles in military planning.  Missiles were part and parcel of nuclear weapons, as a means of their delivery.  As a global issue, missiles could not be controlled by partial or narrowly defined measures.  Recent reports of the possible deployment of cruise missiles had challenged the claims of those who argued that only ballistic missiles were the real danger. 

    According to another draft resolution, introduced by the representative of India, the Assembly would call on all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, and urge them to take and strengthen national measures to that end.

    Considering that the hair-trigger alert of nuclear weapons carried unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons, which would have catastrophic consequences for all mankind, the Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, by a text on “Reducing nuclear danger” also introduced today by the representative of India

    A further text, introduced by India, on a nuclear weapons convention, would have the Assembly, convinced that a multilateral, universal and binding agreement prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would contribute to the elimination of the nuclear threat, reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations, in order to reach agreement on such a convention.

    Drafts were also introduced today by the representative of Hungary on the Biological Weapons Convention, and by the representative of Poland on the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    Speaking in the thematic debate were the representatives of Australia, China, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Canada.

    The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 22 October, at 10 a.m. to continue its thematic debate and hear introductions of draft texts.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction and the disarmament aspects of outer space.  (Yesterday, nuclear weapons were the focus of the thematic debate).

    It was also expected to hear the introduction of draft texts on the following:  missiles; measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; reducing nuclear danger; a convention on the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons; arms race in outer space; Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

    According to a draft resolution sponsored by Egypt, Indonesia, and Iran on missiles (document A/C.1/58/L.4), the Assembly, convinced of the need for a comprehensive, balanced, and non-discriminatory approach towards missiles, as a contribution to international peace and security, and underlining the complexities involved in considering the issue, would take note of the Secretary-General’s relevant report and request him to seek Member States’ views on the matter.

    Considering that the hair-trigger alert of nuclear weapons carried unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons, which would have catastrophic consequences for all mankind, the General Assembly would call for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons, by a text entitled “Reducing nuclear danger” (document A/C.1/58/L.34).

    The Assembly would request the five nuclear-weapon States to take measures towards implementation of that provision, and call upon all Member States to take the necessary measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects and to promote nuclear disarmament, with the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.

    The Secretary-General would be requested, among other things, to intensify efforts and support initiatives that would contribute towards the full implementation of the seven recommendations identified in the report of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (document A/56/400) that would significantly reduce the risk of nuclear war.

    [Those recommendations are:  de-alerting nuclear weapons; review of nuclear doctrines; further reduction of tactical nuclear weapons as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process; enhancing security at a global and a regional level by promoting increased transparency of all nuclear weapons programmes; and creating a climate for implementing nuclear disarmament measures.]

    The draft resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cuba, Haiti, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Sudan and Zambia.

    Deeply concerned by the growing risk of linkages between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and particularly by the fact that terrorists might seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the Assembly would call on all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, according to a draft resolution entitled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (document A/C.1/58/L.35).

    The Assembly would urge Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring mass destruction weapons, their delivery means, and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.  It would invite them to inform the Secretary-General, on a voluntary basis, of the measures taken in that regard.

    The draft resolution is sponsored by Afghanistan, Bhutan, Colombia, India, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

    Convinced that a multilateral, universal and binding agreement prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would contribute to the elimination of the nuclear threat, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations, in order to reach agreement on such a convention, according to another draft resolution on a nuclear weapons convention (document A/C.1/58/L.36). 

    The draft resolution is sponsored by Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Viet Nam and Zambia.

    According to a draft resolution sponsored by Hungary on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) And Toxin Weapons and On Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) (document A/C.1/58/L.37), the Assembly would note with satisfaction the increase in the number of States parties to the Convention and reaffirm its call on all signatories that had not yet ratified it to do so without delay.  It would call on those States that had not yet signed the Convention to become parties to it at an early date, thus contributing to its universal adherence. 

    The Assembly would recall the decision reached at the fifth review conference to hold three annual meetings of States parties of one week duration each year beginning in 2003 until the sixth review conference and to hold a two-week meeting of experts to prepare each meeting of the States parties.  It would also call on the States parties to the Convention to participate in its implementation. 

    [Among the decisions and recommendations of the fifth review conference, which was held in Geneva from 19 November to 7 December 2001, and 11 to 22 November 2002, were:  the adoption of necessary national measures to implement the prohibitions set forth in the Convention; national mechanisms to establish and maintain the security and oversight of pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins; enhancing international capabilities for responding to, investigating and mitigating the effects of cases of alleged use of biological or toxin weapons or suspicious outbreaks of disease; strengthening and broadening national and international efforts and existing mechanisms for the surveillance, detection, diagnosis and combating of infectious disease affecting humans, animals, and plants; and the content, promulgation, and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists.]

    Under the terms of a draft resolution submitted by Poland, on implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) (document A/C.1/58/L.41), the Assembly would underline that the Convention and its implementation contributed to enhancing international peace and security.  It would emphasize that its full, universal and effective implementation would further contribute to that purpose by excluding completely, for the sake of all humankind, the possibility of the use of chemical weapons. 

    The Assembly would stress the importance to the Convention that all possessors of chemical weapons, chemical weapons production facilities or chemical weapons development facilities, including previously declared possessor States, should be among the States parties to the Convention, and welcomed progress to that end.

    It would urge all States parties to the Convention to meet in full and on time their obligations and to support the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in its implementation activities. 

    According to the draft resolution on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/58/L.44), the Assembly, recognizing that the prevention of an outer space arms race would avert a grave danger for international peace and security, would reaffirm the importance and urgency of preventing such an arms race and the readiness of all States to contribute to that common objective.

    The Assembly would reaffirm its recognition that the legal regime applicable to outer space did not, in and of itself, guarantee the prevention of an outer space arms race, that the regime played a significant role in the prevention of an arms race in that environment, that there was a need to consolidate and reinforce that regime and enhance its effectiveness and that it was important to comply strictly with existing agreements, both bilateral and multilateral.

    It would call on all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race there, and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.

    The Conference on Disarmament would be invited to establish an ad hoc committee on the issue as early as possible during its 2004 session. 

    The draft resolution is sponsored by Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Yemen and Zambia.

    (Additional co-sponsors from draft resolutions and decisions submitted yesterday were:  the illicit small arms trade (L.1), Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Solomon Islands, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Ukraine, and Canada; conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (L.10), Germany; Regional Centre in Asia and the Pacific (L. 21), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; objective information and transparency on military expenditures L.32), Ukraine; reducing nuclear danger (L.34), Fiji; preventing the terrorist acquisition of mass destruction weapons (L. 35), Fiji; nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere (L.38), Mongolia; Ottawa Convention (L. 43), Fiji, Papua New Guinea; transparency in armaments (L.45), Armenia, Papua New Guinea; treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons (L. 49), Estonia, Venezuela; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (L.50), Mongolia, Ukraine, Fiji; assistance to States to curb illicit small arms trade (L. 51), Germany; Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (L. 52), Ukraine; and path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons (L. 53), Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Ukraine.)

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