Index

3 October 2000

Press Release
GA/DIS/3170



MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEMS, NUCLEAR WEAPON 'COMEBACK', ARMS EXPENDITURES AMONG ISSUES RAISED IN FIRST COMMITTEE, AS GENERAL DEBATE CONTINUES

20001003

China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Japan, Peru, Egypt, Libya, Norway Address Committee

Given the unprecedented interdependence among countries, attempts to seek "absolute security" at the expense of the security of others would go nowhere and benefit nobody, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today, as it continued its general debate.

The representative of China warned that any unilateral approach to the complex issue of missiles that was detrimental to global strategic stability would only aggravate the problem. The long-term solution lay not in the adoption of discriminatory "cartel-style" control measures, but in strict adherence to the United Nations Charter. The 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) constituted a cornerstone of global strategic stability, and its significance went far beyond the United States-Russian Federation bilateral relationship. Indeed, the Treaty had direct bearings on the security interests of all countries and should be strictly observed. Any move towards violating the Treaty -- whatever "disguise" it took -- would undermine global strategic balance and stability, jeopardize trust between States, and have a far-reaching negative impact on international peace, security and multilateral disarmament processes.

The representative of Indonesia told the Committee that nuclear weapons had made a "disturbing comeback". Rather than further deepen reductions, some of the nuclear-weapon States were solidifying their stockpiles and consolidating their weapons’ infrastructures. Modern designs were not only being maintained, but also upgraded into more sophisticated weaponry. The focus continued to be on new rationales for the retention of nuclear weapons, rather than their abolition. The recent unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States for the abolition of nuclear arsenals had not been accompanied by a time frame. Thus, that pledge, agreed to at the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), was, once again, cast in terms of a remote, indefinite future. Consequently, it "skirted" the critical issue of the extent and pace of nuclear disarmament.

The representative of Bangladesh said that, although there had been some progress in reducing nuclear weapons, there remained deep concern within the international community at the continuing risk those posed. The cap on nuclear proliferation remained unshielded, and there were suggestions that the number of


First Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/DIS/3170 4th Meeting (PM) 3 October 2000

threshold States were on the rise. All nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon- capable States in all regions should pursue, in good faith, negotiations leading to the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Also disturbing was the increase last year in global military expenditures, for the first time in the post-cold-war period.

Costa Rica was without arms and without armies, that country's representative said. It had schools, not barracks. It had not entrusted its national security to the force of weapons, but rather to international law and multilateral mechanisms. The only security guarantee it possessed was a prohibition of the use of force. Everyone had witnessed the direct security threat posed by the accumulation of arms. In particular, the indiscriminate sale of weapons encouraged political instability, violated human rights, fuelled armed conflicts and hampered the peace processes. The world community should thus take advantage of the forthcoming 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects by adopting practical and concrete measures, such as a global verification system, to prevent the transfer of those weapons and of dual-purpose technology to conflict areas.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Japan, Peru, Egypt, Libya and Norway.

In other business, Rastislav Gabriel (Slovakia) was elected Rapporteur, thereby completing the Bureau.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 4 October, to continue its general debate.



First Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/DIS/3170 4th Meeting (PM) 3 October 2000

Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament initiatives and a number of international disarmament agreements.

A focus of the nuclear non-proliferation debate will likely be the outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Final Document marked only the second time that the five- year Review produced a consensus document. The outcome, according to the Under- Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, had expressed the world’s “unambiguous” lack of confidence in the ability of either deterrence or defence to prevent another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The NPT provides the legal foundation for multilateral actions to prohibit the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to advance nuclear disarmament. Considered by many experts to be the bedrock of the non-proliferation regime, it is the most universal of all disarmament agreements, with 187 parties.

Bilateral arrangements will also likely be a factor in the nuclear disarmament debate. Those include the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti- Ballistic Missile Systems –- ABM Treaty –- by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti- ballistic missiles. The United States recently deferred a decision, until after its Presidential election in November, on whether to proceed on further development and deployment of an anti-missile defence system. A decision to proceed with the system would constitute a breach of the ABM Treaty. The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that attempts to revise that strategic document could have certain ramifications, including triggering a new arms race, setting back nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies, and creating new incentives for missile proliferation.

Meanwhile, on 14 April, the Russian Duma ratified Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty (START II), which is the second of two treaties by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to significantly reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads. Negotiation on further reductions under START III rests on the precarious future of the ABM Treaty. The original treaty, START I, was signed in 1991 and called for a 30 per cent reduction in strategic weapons over seven years, with stringent verification. In 1993, START II provided for the elimination of heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and all other multiple-warhead ICBMs, as well as a two-thirds reduction of the total number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by both sides.

Multilateral agreements, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), will also dominate the Committee’s disarmament debate. The Treaty still requires the ratification of 14 countries critical to its success. Of the necessary ratifications by nuclear-weapon States, two are pending -- United States and China. Other States whose ratification is required under article 14 of the Treaty, namely the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan, still have not signed the Treaty, which opened for signature in 1996. Last fall, the United States’ Senate rejected ratification of the Treaty. A conference to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force was held last October, in Vienna. In a Final Declaration, the participating States' parties and signatories to the CTBT called upon all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible and to refrain from acts which would defeat its object and purpose. The Treaty currently has 155 signatories and 51 parties.

Treaties banning the production and stockpiling of other weapons of mass destruction are also expected to be a focus of debate, among them the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). The call continues to intensify for a protocol that would establish effective verification of, and compliance, with that 1978 Treaty.

The entry into force on 29 April 1997 of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) triggered the operation of a complex verification mechanism, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has completed more than several hundred inspections and has witnessed the destruction of more than several thousand metric tons of chemical agents. So far, 129 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention.

The Committee is also expected to focus on the establishment of nuclear- weapon-free zones. The zones already in existence are governed by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok) and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba). Committee drafts are anticipated for the establishment of such zones in the Middle East, Central Europe and South Asia.

Discussions will continue on the subject of landmines, in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use. The first was Protocol II of the Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), a total ban, was agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called “Ottawa process” and entered into force on 1 March 1999.

(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3168 issued 29 September).

Statements

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDURY (Bangladesh) said his country supported all efforts leading towards total and complete disarmament, including effective elimination of all nuclear weapons. He was disturbed to note that global military expenditures had increased in 1999 for the first time in the post-cold-war period. Although there had been some progress in the reduction of nuclear weapons, there remained a deep concern within the international community at the continuing risk posed by such weapons. The cap on nuclear proliferation remained unshielded and there were suggestions that the number of threshold States would be on a potential rise.

Nevertheless, there was an expanding consensus that favoured the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, he went on. The ratification of START II by the Russian Federation and the adoption, by consensus, of the final document of the NPT 2000 Review Conference were two recent encouraging developments. All nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon-capable States in all regions should pursue, in good faith, negotiations leading to the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

He added that Bangladesh shared the regional and international concern that the easy availability of small arms and light weapons escalated conflict, undermined political stability and had a devastating impact on peace and security. Bangladesh expected that the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all Its Aspects, to be held next year, would produce effective measures to ensure that such arms would no longer jeopardize human security.

He urged all countries that had not done so to sign the CTBT without further delay. He also expressed the hope that India and Pakistan would soon join the CTBT, in keeping with the announcements made by their heads of governments, to free the region from nuclear violence.

He was disappointed that the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Development in Asia and the Pacific was not operating from Kathmandu, but was being run from New York. There was no reason for the Centre to be run from New York. At last month’s general debate of the General Assembly, the Foreign Minister of Nepal stated categorically that Nepal was fully prepared to meet its obligation to house the Centre in Kathmandu.

AKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said that the threat posed by nuclear weapons had remained a stark reality. Despite reductions, some 3,500 nuclear weapons remained in the arsenals of the nuclear-weapon States, many on alert status. Those weapons constituted the principal danger to security and survival. Paradoxically, however, the hopes engendered by the international community for nuclear peace had remained elusive. Some progress had been made under START I, and the ratification of START II by the Russian Federation had opened the way for deeper strategic arms reduction. Nonetheless, nuclear weapons had made a "disturbing comeback". Indeed, their further elimination had come to a virtual standstill. Rather than further deepen reductions, some of the nuclear-weapon States were solidifying their stockpiles and consolidating the infrastructures for their weapons.

He said that modern designs were not only being maintained, but also upgraded into more sophisticated weaponry. The focus continued to be on new rationalizations for the continued possession of nuclear weapons, rather than their abolition. Consequently, the nuclear-weapon States had failed to comply with article VI of the NPT and had ignored the commitments made at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons globally. Hence, the NPT Review Conference held last May was convened in a disquieting atmosphere, which was exacerbated by a stalemate in the START process, the uncertain future of the CTBT, the precarious future for a fissile material cut-off treaty, and plans for a national missile defence. The latter threatened to undo existing arms control agreements, unleash a new nuclear arms race and undermine the NPT.

The unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States for the abolition of nuclear arsenals had not been accompanied by a time frame, he said. Thus, that obligation was again cast in terms of a remote, indefinite future. Consequently, it skirted the critical issue of the extent and pace of nuclear disarmament negotiations. A genuine commitment should prepare the ground for more drastic cuts and thereby bolster efforts towards their total elimination. Further, a diminishing role for nuclear weapons could not be realistically contemplated as long as strategic doctrines remained unchanged and nuclear weapons continued to underpin the security of military alliances. The reaffirmation of the first-use of nuclear weapons, the security role of those weapons and even their utility as a deterrent was diametrically opposed to the position taken by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). As the Secretary-General pointed out in his report to the Millennium Assembly, the objective of nuclear non-proliferation was not helped by the fact that the nuclear-weapon States continued to insist that those weapons in their hands enhanced security, while in the hands of others they threatened world peace.

He noted that there was no agreement on tactical nuclear arsenals, which constituted more than half of the global stockpile of nuclear warheads. Although conceived in the context of the cold war, those weapons continued to be maintained on high-alert status, without any rationale. Continued reliance upon nuclear arms for security had rendered those weapons redundant. They had, in fact, become militarily obsolete. Still, genuine nuclear disarmament should begin with the elimination of those destabilizing weapons, whose very existence was fraught with the danger of accidental or unauthorized use. The imperative of the post-cold war period also called for transparency. Declaring the size of stockpiles, together with plutonium and highly enriched uranium, would enhance the overall transparency of nuclear-weapon programmes, thereby constituting a valuable confidence-building measure. Such action would also reinforce other initiatives, such as visits to nuclear-weapon facilities, and lead to a reassessment of nuclear doctrines and a reappraisal of "force postures". Moreover, unilateral reductions would open up new frontiers for arms limitation and reinforce bilateral agreements.

MOHAMMAD SAMHAN (United Arab Emirates) said that the end of the cold war contributed to the reduction of nuclear arsenals in recent years. Despite that progress, and the positive results of the Conference on Disarmament session held in Geneva, the Conference had not been able to reach an agreement on nuclear prohibition. The United Arab Emirates believed that the Middle East, including the Arab Gulf, should be an area free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The international community should call on the Israeli Government to accede to the NPT and to place all its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He was optimistic about the 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, he continued. Regional factors needed to be taken into account in the deliberations on the issue of small arms and light weapons. The realization of regional peace and security required the promotion of bilateral and multilateral dialogue by the States in such a region on the basis of several factors, including good-neighbourliness, the political independence of States and the non-use of force to settle conflicts. His country looked forward to a new age of international relations characterized by the absence weapons of mass destruction, so that the world could live in peace.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) noted that in the past year the activities of the OPCW had been further consolidated. The submission by the United States of its industrial declarations in May this year significantly strengthened, as well as brought a sense of balance, to the industrial verification regime. The destruction of chemical weapons and related stockpiles had also continued to gather momentum, with possessor States well ahead of the schedules laid down by the Chemical Weapons Convention. One possessor state, however, continued to face significant difficulties with respect to its destruction programme. The destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles was a costly and dangerous undertaking, and the efforts of possessor States, and in particular the Russian Federation, to achieve the goals laid down by the Convention in that regard should be supported to the fullest extent possible.

The 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects would be judged by the follow-up actions undertaken, he continued. The multitude of national and regional initiatives to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing and excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons was evidence of the growing political will to effectively address the issue. He welcomed the declaration by heads of State during the Millennium Summit that they would take concerted actions to end the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons, especially making arms transfers more transparent and by supporting regional disarmament measures.

Not only was Africa severely affected by death, mutilation, destruction and crime caused by small arms, but the proliferation and illicit trafficking of those weapons had a direct and negative impact on the African renaissance, he continued. Stability and security was one of the cornerstones of the African renaissance in striving for socio-economic development, democratization and good governance. Security and stability could not be obtained without combating the proliferation of conventional arms and dealing comprehensively with both supply and demand.

His Government had adopted policies that gave preference to the destruction of redundant and obsolete small arms, rather than selling them. With the assistance of Norway, the country had recently initiated a process to destroy over a quarter of a million redundant small arms from its military stockpile, he said.

HU XIAODI (China) said that at the dawn of a new millennium, international arms control and disarmament had come to a "crucial crossroads". The international situation was undergoing profound changes. Despite twists and turns, "multipolarization" was gaining momentum, and economic globalization was bringing about closer economic and trade ties between States. At the same time, negative factors affecting global and regional peace and stability were growing. The world was far from tranquil. A certain country tended to pursue unilateralism in international affairs and sought "absolute security" with the backing of its military, scientific and technological superiority. That had hampered the sound, sustained development of the global disarmament process.

History had taught that security was both relative and mutual; one country could achieve security in a real sense only if it was based on the common security of all countries, he said. Interdependence among States had reached an unprecedented level. Under such circumstances, attempts to seek so-called "absolute security" at the expense of the security of others would "definitely go nowhere and benefit nobody". The 1972 ABM Treaty constituted a cornerstone of global strategic stability and went far beyond the United States-Russian bilateral relationship in its significance. Indeed, the Treaty had direct bearing on the security interests of all countries and should be strictly observed. Any "move in violation" of the ABM Treaty, whatever "disguise" it took, would undermine global strategic balance and stability, jeopardize trust between States, and produce far-reaching negative impacts on international peace, security and multilateral disarmament and arms control processes.

He said his country had taken note of the recent decision by the President of the United States not to deploy a national missile defence system at the present time. That was a wise decision. Meanwhile, he had also noticed that the national missile defence programme had not yet been abandoned and its research and development were intensifying. As an important forum for international security and disarmament, the First Committee should pay serious attention to that issue. Once again, his country would join the Russian Federation, Belarus and other countries in submitting a draft resolution on the Treaty. Hopefully, more countries would support the draft resolution, in order to contribute to the maintenance of the global strategic balance and stability in a spirit of sincerity and cooperation. He also hoped that the United States would heed the appeals of the international community, consult other countries on the issue, and "drop the NMD programme as soon as possible, as it is in nobody's interest".

Outer space was the common property of mankind and its peaceful exploration was a common aspiration, he said. The prevention of an arms race and the prohibition of weapon systems in outer space would not only exempt it from wars, but also serve to maintain peace, security and stability on earth. Some claimed that there was no arms race in outer space, but what was worrisome was that a certain country was seeking military superiority in outer space and strategic superiority on earth through outer space. If that negative trend went unchecked, there would be the weaponization of or even an arms race in outer space in the near future. Arms control was intended to prevent the emergence of weapon systems that undermined global stability. There was little excuse for a certain country to block negotiations leading to the conclusion of legal instruments preventing an outer space arms race. Mankind would pay a high price if it took action only after the arms race in outer space became a reality. He concurred with the Russian President’s proposal to convene an international conference in 2001 on preventing the militarization of outer space.

Changes in the international scene had, once again, drawn attention to the missile issue, and more and more countries had realized its urgency, he continued. Missiles presented a complex global issue and any unilateral approach detrimental to global strategic stability would only aggravate, rather than resolve, the problem. Adoption of "cartel-style" control measures, which were discriminatory in nature, did not offer a long-term solution, though those might temporarily ease the problem. The fundamental resolution of the issue lay in strict adherence to the United Nations Charter and other international norms. All countries should settle disputes peaceably and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other States. That would create the favourable international security environment necessary for the resolution of the missile issue. An open, non-discriminatory global missile control regime should be established to provide uniform, international criteria, which could guide the practice of all countries. The United Nations should play its role in examining all aspects of the missile issue in a comprehensive and objective manner.

He said that the successful conclusion of the NPT Review Conference was a major event. For the first time in history, the five nuclear-weapon States made a collective and unequivocal commitment to eliminate their nuclear arsenals and pledged not to target their nuclear weapons at any State. He hoped those commitments would provide fresh impetus to the global nuclear disarmament process. As a nuclear-weapon State, his country never evaded its responsibility for and duty on nuclear disarmament. It had always advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and had unconditionally undertaken not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. China had retained a "limited and efficient" nuclear force for the purpose of deterring any nuclear attack against it. Its nuclear weapons had not threatened any country.

SEIICHIRO NOBORU (Japan) said that, at the Millennium Summit, heads of State and governments worldwide declared that they would spare no effort to free their people from the scourge of war. They promised to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. They thus sent a clear and simple message that should be repeated until all arms control and disarmament goals were achieved and people throughout the world lived in peace and security. With the successful conclusion of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, he believed that the series of recent setbacks in the area of nuclear non-proliferation had been stemmed. That momentum must not be lost. Indeed, it was incumbent upon all countries to implement practical measures towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, as called for in the Review's Final Document.

He said he would introduce a new resolution in the Committee, marking the "paths" toward the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Its previous drafts had also set out the steps leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. This year, however, it would better elaborate and define the road map, taking into account agreements reached at the NPT Review Conference. The most important goal at present was the entry into force of the CTBT. The fact that, of the 44 States whose ratifications were required for its entry into force, 14 States, including two nuclear-weapon States, had not yet ratified the Treaty underscored the need to strengthen efforts in that regard. Four years had passed since the Treaty's opening for signature; it might now be useful to set a specific target year for its operation. His country was coordinating the second conference facilitating the CTBT's ratification. Encouraging efforts had been made to develop a consensus on which the two countries of South Asia -- which had conducted nuclear tests in 1998 -- could sign the Treaty. In that context, he called upon both of those countries to demonstrate strong leadership and sign the Treaty as soon as possible.

He said his country was also concerned about the ongoing proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. That trend was threatening peace and stability in various regions and affecting security worldwide. It was, thus, the task of the international community in the twenty-first century to counter that new challenge. In that connection, his country welcomed the statement made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to suspend missile launches while its high-level talks with the United States were under way. He called upon that country to continue its suspension.

JORGE LUIS VALDEZ CARRILLO (Peru) said that his country, as part of the first inhabited nuclear-weapon-free zone in the world, acknowledged the importance of the establishment of such zones and their contribution towards the promotion of regional and world peace and security. Peru had stated the need to strengthen the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere based on the current Tlatelolco, Pelindaba, Bangkok and Rarotonga free zones. That would be a concrete measure for promoting nuclear non-proliferation and the strengthening of a universal nuclear-weapon-free regime. He expressed satisfaction at the announcement by the President of the United States postponing the development of a ballistic missile defence system.

He said it was essential to establish measures for international cooperation to prevent and reduce the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as well as fight against and eliminate the illegal traffic in those weapons. Those measures should, however, acknowledge the particularities in which each state sought its solution.

The permanence of antipersonnel landmines aggravated tensions, undermined trust and hindered all diplomatic efforts that sought to achieve a peaceful solution for conflicts, he stated. Besides, they posed a genuine threat to thousands of innocent civilians that were the main victims of those weapons. Peru had pledged to ban those weapons and would support a statement in that regard in the General Assembly calling upon all states to sign, ratify or adhere to the Ottawa Convention.

BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said his was a country without arms, without armies. It had schools, not barracks. It had not entrusted its national security to the force of weapons, but rather to international law and multilateral mechanisms. The only security guarantee it possessed was a prohibition on the use of force, as incorporated in the United Nations Charter. Thus, his country had placed its trust in the United Nations and its multilateral mechanisms. The drive to possess all forms of weapons was contrary to peace and development, the guiding light of the modern world. Everyone had witnessed the direct security threat posed by the accumulation of arms. Legally binding international instruments were a matter of great importance to Costa Rica, as those were fundamental pillars of a safe and stable world.

Thus, he said that the codification and adoption of new global disarmament standards should be given the highest priority on the international agenda. His country was seeking membership in the appropriate main bodies, such as the Conference on Disarmament. At the Millennium Summit, world leaders had promised not to spare any effort to eliminate the scourge of war, as well as to support regional disarmament efforts. The First Committee should implement those instructions, which emanated from the highest political authorities. For example, it should follow the guidelines of those heads of State who had called on all States which had not yet ratified the Ottawa Convention to do so as soon as possible. His country had supported the eradication of those cruel weapons, once and for all. The international community, for its part, should support demining programmes and victims and promote education for those at risk.

The indiscriminate sale of weapons encouraged political instability, violated human rights, fueled armed conflicts and hampered the peace processes, he said. The world community should thus take advantage of the forthcoming 2001 Conference on such weapons. Practical and concrete measures should be adopted, in order to prevent the transfer of those weapons and of dual purpose technology to conflict areas. Mechanisms should also be designed to collect and destroy small arms. Further, a system of verification should be introduced to guarantee that unauthorized arms transfers were not used for illicit purposes.

He said that it was worrisome that the main exporters of those weapons, paradoxically, were the permanent members of the Security Council, who were entrusted with maintaining peace and security. Those that produced and marketed such weapons should exercise firm control and combat their illegal manufacture and trafficking. A multinational campaign aimed at strengthening customs and border controls should also be organized. His country had submitted a draft resolution on an international code of conduct for weapons transfers.

REDA BEBARS (Egypt) said that despite the renewal of people’s aspirations with the end of the cold war, nuclear weapons continued to proliferate, nuclear arsenals continued to militarize, and advanced nuclear-weapon programmes outside the scope of the safeguard measures continued to be maintained. Certain States continued to resist the calls of the international community to adhere to the NPT and to place their nuclear activities under international safeguards.

The threat of nuclear armament and other weapons of mass destruction posed an equal threat to all of mankind, he continued. Reason dictated the unity of international efforts to create the mechanisms necessary to abolish that threat within an international framework. The progression towards a world free of nuclear weapons had to start with serious regional efforts that aimed at realizing nuclear disarmament and ridding the world of nuclear dangers. In the Middle East, all States, with the exception of Israel, had committed themselves to realizing that objective by adhering to the NPT. Israel refused to comply with the efforts of the region and insisted on maintaining the nuclear option.

Egypt had multiplied its efforts to rid the Middle East of the nuclear threat and of the dangers of keeping nuclear facilities that were not under the monitoring of the IAEA safeguards, he said. Those initiatives had received vast and consolidated international support. Despite those efforts, Israel had not responded to the calls of the international community to adhere to the NPT and to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguard measures.

Transparency in disarmament included transparency in all types of weapons and related technologies, including weapons of mass destruction, he continued. Despite Egypt’s support for the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms as a means of confidence-building, the meeting of governmental experts entrusted with the matter failed to expand the scope of the Register to cover the military holdings through national production. It also failed to include additional types of weapons of mass destruction in the Register, a matter that contradicted the resolution that established it.

He expressed Egypt’s support for the convening of a Conference on small arms, as a means of illuminating the suffering of the civil society exposed to the scourge of war. He maintained that the responsibility of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons should not fall on recipient parties only. It should also be a legal and moral obligation of the manufacturing and exporting States to apply firmer exporting measures.

ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said that since the last session, there had been some disruptions in the quest for international peace. There had also been some positive developments, including the Millennium Summit Declaration, in which world leaders insisted on an end to the dangers posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, the world had seen an unprecedented sale of weapons, which had exceeded $3 billion.

He said that the historic agreement concluded during the NPT Review Conference was among the important steps taken towards building a world free of nuclear danger. The political commitment of the five nuclear Powers to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals, which was now greater than 35,000 nuclear warheads, was particularly welcome. He hoped those countries would respect their commitments and use their technology to assist non-nuclear-weapon States in peaceful pursuits. Meanwhile, nuclear missiles must be de-alerted, in order to maintain trust. In addition, all nuclear weapons should be withdrawn from foreign bases and international zones.

The international community insisted upon the importance of the NPT, but refused to respect appeals to end the nuclear arms race in the Arab region, in particular in Tel Aviv, he said. The Israeli nuclear capacity had continued to grow, posing a nuclear terror capable of truly endangering world peace and security and threatening the Arab world -- from the Gulf to the Atlantic. The threat of a nuclear catastrophe persisted, as Tel Aviv acquired more than 200 nuclear warheads, in addition to its biological, chemical and conventional weapons. The nuclear Powers had maintained a double standard. They had developed their arsenals and developed Israeli technology in the area of weapons of mass destruction. Those countries had prevented others from using such sophisticated technology for peaceful purposes.

He said that Tel Aviv continued to strengthen its nuclear capacity on land, sea and air. Reportedly, it had received Dolphin submarines from former nuclear Powers, which were capable of carrying cruise missiles and launching nuclear warheads. As long as the international community permitted the Israeli army -- which had all kinds of weapons and all kinds of means -- to kill dozens of unarmed Palestinian citizens and destroy their property, simply because they protested the colonization system, then all efforts towards non-proliferation would be in vain.

He welcomed the ratification by the Russian Federation of START II and the decision by the United States to defer the development of national missile defence. Such acts should build confidence and further international peace and security. Nonetheless, some negative developments had persisted, including the paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament. The convening of an international conference next year to debate all aspects relating to the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was also welcome. In that respect, he welcomed the actions of certain African countries to collect their weapons, a process that should be advanced by the world community.

STEFFEN KONGSTAD (Norway) said that the threats that motivated the push for a global nuclear non-proliferation regime four decades ago remained very real today. Norway’s ultimate goal remained complete: nuclear disarmament. Strengthened adherence to and compliance with international instruments were necessary to achieve that goal. Norway confirmed the commitments it had made at the NPT Review Conference and would work to carry forward the conclusions made at that Conference. The Millennium Assembly should reconfirm and consolidate the results of the NPT Review Conference. The final document of that Conference should be seen as a basis for practical steps and systematic and progressive efforts to achieve the disarmament objectives of the Treaty.

He said that the ABM Treaty was a cornerstone of strategic stability contributing to the broader disarmament and arms control process. Norway welcomed the reaffirmation of the Russian Federation and the United States of their continued commitment to the Treaty and to the strengthening, preservation and continuation of the Treaty. The two parties should continue their cooperation on that basis. The conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives in the Conference on Disarmament remained a high priority for Norway. It was time to make compromises. There was also a need to address the issue of stockpiles related to excess weapons materials, military inventories and highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes, all of which represented a proliferation risk.

Norway’s active involvement in international disarmament efforts was based on the premise that global security could best be achieved by seeking national security through common efforts, he said. That was why its disarmament and non- proliferation policy was an integral part of its security policy. Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts needed to be intensified and incorporated into the security policy of all countries. Norway also strongly supported strengthened efforts to combat the proliferation of missiles and missile technology for weapons of mass destruction. Recent missile flight tests had demonstrated the urgency of curbing such proliferation. There was a need for common international norms on missile-related activities, including a definition of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors concerning the development, production, stockpiling or other means of acquiring missiles and missile technology.

He welcomed the fact that Member States, through the Millennium Declaration, had pledged to take concerted action to end illicit traffic in small arms, he said. However, even if all illicit arms transfers were eliminated, the problem posed by surplus stocks and illicitly held small arms would remain. His Government had supported measures regarding collection and destruction of small arms in western and southern Africa, as well as in Albania. It has also provided financial support to the United Nations regional disarmament centres.

The Ottawa process and the Convention banning anti-personnel landmines had made a significant and measurable difference, he continued. An international norm had been established and was working. It was essential to ensure sustainable and predictable future funding for mine action. To that end, Norway maintained its commitment to allocate $129 million over a five-year period starting at the time of its signature to the Convention.

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