9 October 2001


Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Says Realizing Attack’s
Impact if Nuclear, Chemical Weapons Used Committee’s Starting Point

NEW YORK, 8 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) began its general debate this morning Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, challenged the Committee to confront new and old threats to international peace and security under the shadow of the "dark and ominous cloud" of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States.

Mr. Dhanapala recalled that one hour before the Secretary-General was planning to ring the Peace Bell on 11 September, thousands of citizens from dozens of countries perished in acts of unmitigated brutality that defied description. At the current critical juncture -- when the people of the world stood together in repudiating mass terrorism -- everyone must work together to build upon the remarkable display of unity.

The starting point for the work of the Committee must be the sobering realization that last month's tragedy could have been so much worse had nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons been used, he said. The international community had a duty to protect innocent civilians throughout the world by reinforcing the multilateral disarmament regime. The best way to accomplish that was through a robust disarmament agenda. One thing was clear -– in disarmament there was no going back to business as usual.

Echoing those remarks, Committee Chairman André Erdös (Hungary) said that a chilling fact of the terrorist attacks was that not one weapon on the agenda of the Committee was used to bring about the enormous loss of life, physical destruction and disruption of financial and economic activity in a powerful country. The Committee must face what could have happened if the weapons on its agenda -- especially nuclear, chemical or biological weapons -- had been used. It must also face the fact that those weapons still could and might be used, accidentally, by misjudgement or miscommunication, or by design.

He said that the Committee would also have to confront more acutely than ever the stark reality of having to focus its attention on both State- and non-State actors. By targeting innocent civilians and civilian structures, those acts had challenged the world's sense of security and outraged its conscience. Indeed, those cruel and violent events had made the work of the United Nations for peace, disarmament, non-proliferation and security more important than ever.

Several other speakers in today's debate emphasized that the 11 September attack had underscored the urgent need to develop an appropriate response to such new challenges. Many urged Member States back to the multilateral negotiating table to design and strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation measures to prevent terrorists from accessing even more destructive means of conducting their abhorrent activities.

As calls went out to formulate new mechanisms to address the real needs of nations and societies facing non-traditional security threats, so did appeals to strengthen existing international arms control and disarmament instruments, including the nuclear test-ban and non-proliferation treaties, and those conventions banning the development and use of chemical and biological weapons. Specific attention was also drawn to the absence of no first-use policies on the use of nuclear weapons and the persistence of their "hair-trigger" alert status.

Representatives of the following countries spoke in today's debate: Mexico; Ukraine; South Africa, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition; Libya; Guatemala; Chile, on behalf of the Rio Group; Jordan; and Belgium, on behalf of the European Union.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 9 October, to continue its general debate.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, was expected to address the meeting, as well as the following delegations: Mexico; Ukraine; Libya; Guatemala; Chile, on behalf of the Rio Group; Jordan; Belgium, on behalf of the European Union; Myanmar, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN); Peru; and South Africa, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition.

[The New Agenda Coalition is a group of seven countries –- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa –- which introduced a resolution, at the fifty-third General Assembly session, aimed at a nuclear-weapon-free world].

The Committee is also expected to hear from its Chairman, André Erdös (Hungary).

(For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3197).


ANDRÉ ERDÖS, Committee Chairman, said that the unprecedented terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September had caused immense tragedy and destruction, for which he offered his most sincere condolences. Those acts, by targeting innocent civilians and civilian structures, challenged not only the world's sense of security, but also outraged its conscience. Those cruel and violent events made the work of the United Nations for peace -– as well as, disarmament, non-proliferation and security -- more important than ever.

He said those acts should reinforce the resolve of Member States to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, to take concerted action in the field of conventional weapons, to end the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and to rid the world of landmines. The Committee should pursue its work with renewed vigour to seek common purpose on the traditionally wide number of disarmament and international security agenda items. That could be one valued contribution to realizing the fundamental goals of the United Nations.

Realistically, he continued, the Committee was faced in 2001 with a continuing crisis in multilateral disarmament. Indeed, progress in important areas of multilateral disarmament had come to a "near halt" in the past year in the fields of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The utility of multilateralist approaches had been questioned. Everyone should spotlight, support and promote the multilateral agenda and its great potential for and genuine contribution to international security.

A chilling fact of the terrorist attacks on the United States, he continued, was that not one weapon on the agenda of the Committee was used to bring about that enormous loss of life, physical destruction and disruption of financial and economic activity in a powerful country. The Committee must face what could have happened if the weapons on its agenda -- especially nuclear, chemical or biological weapons -- had been used. It must also face the fact that those weapons still could and might be used, accidentally, by misjudgement or miscommunication, or by design. He urged all States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to grasp the urgency of the message of the Millennium Summit to strive for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

He noted that five years ago the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature. Yet, the challenges that confronted its entry into force persisted, despite the fact that 161 States had signed it and 79 had ratified it, including 31 of the 44 States whose ratification was specifically required for its effective operation. He hoped the upcoming Conference to facilitate its entry into force would generate renewed efforts to promote the Treaty's earliest operation. Similarly, an internationally agreed protocol to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) was of paramount importance. Also, universal application of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) was crucial to its effective implementation.

Continuing, he said that issues related to missile defences -- their relationship to global security and strategic stability and their impact on current and future bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements -- were on many minds. Also, translating into action at all levels the political commitment made at the United Nations Conference on the illicit small arms trade would go a long way to meeting that challenge. Regarding the Conference on Disarmament, the consequences of the current stalemate was a lost opportunity to pursue the creation of enduring legal commitments open to all States.

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said that on 10 September the Secretary-General had issued his annual message on the eve of what was to be the International Day of Peace. He urged that it be a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. The next morning thousands of citizens from dozens of countries died in acts of unmitigated brutality. The challenge the Committee now faced as it convenes in the "shadow of this dark and ominous cloud", was to confront new and old threats to international peace and security. At such a critical juncture –- when the peoples of the world were standing together in repudiating mass terrorism – the international community must build on the remarkable display of unity. Security depended upon justice, fundamental human rights, and equitable development for all societies.

History would not absolve those who failed to learn the lessons of 11 September, he continued. As the Secretary-General had said, there was much the world can do to prevent future acts of terrorism carried out with weapons of mass destruction. He had set out guidelines for future action. First, there was a need to expand membership of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Second, there was a need for new efforts to negotiate a convention for the suppression of acts of nuclear terror. Third, there was a need to build a global database on acts, threatened acts, or suspected acts of terrorism with weapons of mass destruction. The Department for Disarmament Affairs was in contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW) and was prepared to establish such a database.

The starting point for the work of the Committee must be the sobering realization that last month’s tragedy could have been so much worse had nuclear, biological and chemical weapons been used, he said. There was a duty to protect the world’s citizens by reinforcing the multilateral disarmament regime. The world community must do all it could to raise hurdles that hindered the development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. The best way to proceed would be the active pursuit of a robust disarmament agenda. In disarmament, there was no going back to business as usual.

The tasks ahead were more critical than ever, in particular because of a "crisis of multilateral disarmament diplomacy". The symptoms of that crisis were now self-apparent -– a weakening of the basic infrastructure of disarmament. Disarmament faced difficult times and its future rested heavily on strong level of support and understanding from civil society. Unfortunately, as funding grew scarce, key groups in civil society were finding it difficult to maintain their activities. From academia these were too few serious articles on disarmament. The news media focused on the glare of conflicts rather than the slow process of eliminating weapons.

He said New Zealand remained the only country with a disarmament minister. Global military expenditures were again on the rise, amounting last year to an estimated $800 billion. That level of spending was at odds with Article 26 of the United Nations Charter, which called for the least possible diversion of world human and economic resources for armaments. The Department for Disarmament Affairs remained the smallest in the United Nations. It was not uncommon to read of financial problems in treaty-based organizations like the IAEA and the OPCW.

Two of the classic diplomatic means for advancing disarmament non-proliferation and anti-terrorism goals -- export controls and sanctions -- were in dispute based on claims that they were ineffective or discriminatory, he continued. Those criticisms must be addressed, for without those measures, the world was faced with the stark choice of ignoring gross violations of disarmament and have to defend those norms by force of arms. Treaties that constituted the global regime were also seriously incomplete. None of the key treaties had universal membership. Many important treaties had not yet entered into force, including the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty II (START II) and the CTBT. Efforts to conclude a Biological Weapons Convention had ended abruptly after many years of effort to strengthen it. The first preparatory meeting would certainly be expecting hard evidence of good faith efforts on each of the important goals.

With regard to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) he said that while it was still too early to predict the fate of the "thirteen steps" agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, it was fair to say that next year’s preparatory committee meeting for the 2005 Review Conference would expect hard evidence of good faith in implementing those goals. A conference last month on the elimination of landmines in Managua, Nicaragua, had had an impressive attendance that augured well for the implementation of that convention. Topics such as small arms, preventing an arms race in outer space and missiles that could deliver weapons of mass destruction were getting more attention.

China has introduced a proposal in the Conference on Disarmament for a treaty banning the deployment of weapons in space, he added. The Programme of Action successfully adopted at the July 2001 Conference on the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects provided a blue print for international cooperation that might eventually lead to binding international norms. The chronic deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament was a serious problem requiring a urgent solution. Such a solution would only be found in the political will of Member States. Perhaps the spirit of cooperation rekindled by the events of 11 September would give new life to that vitally important institution.

One of the United Nations’ most important activities was gathering and disseminating information about worldwide progress in achieving arms limitation and disarmament goals, he continued. The Department for Disarmament Affairs maintained the Register on Conventional Arms and this year more than 100 governments had given information -- the highest level of cooperation in the nine years of the Register’s existence. Sixty countries had used the Standard Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures, which was nearly double the amount of responses received last year. The Department had also been given responsibility for follow-up to the July 2001 Small Arms Conference.

Mr. Dhanapala invited all present to attend a special symposium on "Terrorism and Disarmament" that the Department would host on 25 October. The Committee faced the difficult task of moving beyond the tears, grief and anger, at the acts of 11 September -- and from all terrorist acts in all countries -- to the re-establishment of a just and stable foundation for international peace and security. Recent events and the current crisis in multilateral disarmament diplomacy might suggest that it was time to re-visit a proposal to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament. One question that did not belong on the agenda was whether the Committee should change its focus from "disarmament" to merely the regulation or limitation of arms. When it came to weapons of mass destruction, there was no question that the world would be far better off in seeking the total, verifiable elimination of those weapons. By contrast, controls over conventional weapons were better pursued through transparent regulatory measures that limited the numbers or characteristics of such weapons -- approaches that were consistent with the inherent right of self-defence preserved in the Charter.

He said that in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, States reaffirmed their common conviction that "the total limitation of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against use or threat of use of nuclear weapons" -- and that included the terrorist use of a nuclear weapon. It was not unrealistic for the Committee to keep its focus on absolute guarantees, and the more it searched, the more it would return to disarmament -- not regulation -- as the solution for weapons of mass destruction.

GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) strongly condemned the terrorist attacks against the United States and expressed its sincere condolences. The current situation underscored the need to urgently devise an appropriate response to the new challenges. Consensus must be built and new mechanisms designed that effectively addressed the real needs of nations and societies facing non-traditional threats to their security. The road ahead was clearly mapped out and consistent with strengthening international security. The response must be based on concrete actions that strengthened the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, while guaranteeing genuine security for nations and individuals.

He noted that it had been more than one year since the consensus adoption of the Final Document of the NPT Review Conference, in which the nuclear-weapon States pledged, unequivocally, to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals and to undertake a series of practical measures. Regrettably, the implementation of those measures had been minimal or non-existent. Specifically, no further first-use policies on the use of nuclear weapons had been declared, no legally binding assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States had been elaborated, the trigger-alert status of nuclear arsenals had not been halted and nuclear warheads had not been separated from their delivery systems.

Also, he went on, other countries, in addition to the Russian Federation and the United States, should be included in the nuclear disarmament process. The shared conviction of those two countries to effectively advance the reduction of their nuclear arsenals, expressed in 1991, should be consolidated in a legally binding instrument, and the Committee should play an important role in that regard. Indeed, collective action by the international community was crucial for the maintenance of international peace and security; unilateral, bilateral and plurilateral measures in the field of nuclear disarmament must be strengthened by multilateral action within the framework of legally binding global treaties of universal scope.

Undoubtedly, he said, the absence of progress was inconsistent with the unequivocal commitment by nuclear-weapon States to completely eliminate their nuclear arsenals. Commitments made towards the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament measures, transparency of nuclear programmes and arsenals, and reporting requirements, were still fully valid yardsticks. The development and deployment of anti-ballistic missiles had further complicated the process of promoting understanding and easing tensions among nuclear-weapon States. The link between those programmes and so-called international strategic balance had served to further bog down multilateral negotiations on arms control and disarmament.

He said his country recognized the importance of the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) to the promotion and maintenance of international stability and to future arms reductions. All States should refrain from taking any measures that could trigger a new arms race. Obsolete doctrines of deterrence and mutually assured destruction must be abandoned. The best way of promoting stability was to eliminate nuclear weapons. Indeed, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems was at the top of the international disarmament agenda. Also, the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament must be overcome.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that the global peace and security environment presented a mix of tremendous opportunities and grave challenges. He expressed profound indignation at the terrorist acts perpetrated on 11 September and called on the international community to unite to combat terrorism. Issues of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament remained among the imperative priorities for humankind and a critical element of the United Nations strategy for peace and security.

The Committee could make a substantive contribution to peace efforts by drawing attention to certain issues, among them: early entry into force of the CTBT; the outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference; universalization of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions; and implementation of the programme of action agreed on at the United Nations Conference on small arms. Ukraine regarded the NPT as a cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and attached crucial importance to the outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, which was an important start to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.

He said Ukraine had ratified the CTBT and urged all States to do so, as it was one of the key elements of global strategic stability. Universalization of the non-proliferation regime should remain one of the priority tasks on the world agenda. Ukraine had also ratified a memorandum of understanding to the ABM Treaty and was convinced that revision of the ABM Treaty must not result in the deterioration of the general strategic situation or lead to the resumption of an arms race. Bilateral negotiations between the United States and the Russian Federation constituted the backbone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. He said that another effective step would be the conclusion of the fissile material cut-off treaty and urged States to reconsider their positions on the matter.

While challenges still lay ahead, he said the First Committee should note the progress that had been made, in particular with small arms and certain types of conventional weapons, such as landmines. He welcomed the Programme of Action from the United Nations Conference on small arms and noted that it would require the common effort of Member States and civil society, as well as regional and international organizations. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s document on small arms would constitute a step forward in implementation of global efforts. Also, the current year would be a landmark for Ukraine in the elimination of its huge stockpiles of landmines, in conformity with its devotion to the ideals contained in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention).

GEORGE NENE (South Africa) spoke on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, comprising Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden. He said that the Foreign Ministers of those countries, in preparation for the current Assembly session, evaluated progress on nuclear disarmament and considered further measures to be taken in pursuit of their joint initiative to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. The New Agenda Ministers were determined to pursue the complete implementation of the agreements reached at the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT. That outcome provided the requisite blueprint to achieve nuclear disarmament.

He said that the Ministers were deeply concerned at the possible use of nuclear weapons. They welcomed the indication of further cuts by the United States and the Russian Federation to their nuclear arsenals, but noted that, despite past achievements in bilateral and unilateral reductions, the total number of nuclear weapons deployed and stockpiled still amounted to tens of thousands. The Ministers also expressed concern that the commitment to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies and defence doctrines had not been pursued. That lack of progress was inconsistent with the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to achieve the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Continuing, he said the Ministers had reaffirmed that any presumption of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States would be incompatible with the integrity and sustainability of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and with the broader goal of the maintenance of international peace and security. A particular disappointment had been the continuing failure of the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament and resume negotiations on fissile material. The Ministers also expressed concern at challenges to the non-proliferation regime. The international community was urged to redouble its efforts to achieve universal adherence to the NPT.

The Ministers repeated their call on India, Pakistan and Israel -- which were not parties to the NPT and which operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities -- to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and to place their facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreements, he noted. They had also stressed that international security was a collective concern requiring collective engagement. As internationally negotiated treaties in the disarmament field had fundamentally contributed to international peace and security, the importance of the early entry into force of the CTBT was crucial.

The importance of the ABM Treaty was also stressed by the Ministers, who said that its abrogation could have grave consequences for the future of global security, he said. Further reductions of nuclear arsenals to lower limits must not be put at risk. The Ministers called upon all States to refrain from any action that could lead to a new nuclear arms race or impact negatively on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. They reaffirmed their determination to pursue the New Agenda initiative with continued vigour, and agreed that the priority was to pursue it in the context of the forthcoming NPT review process beginning in 2002. Implementation of the commitments made at the 2000 NPT Conference was "now the imperative".

ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said the general debate was commencing in a sad environment following the tragic terrorist attack 11 September. Once again, he wished to express his country's condolences and sympathy to the people of the United States and the families of the victims. The entire world had condemned the bloody and horrible events of that day. It was important to fight international terrorism, not only through armed force, but also by dealing with its root causes. Indeed, terrorism was a vicious cycle that should be "strangled at the source". That disaster had also drawn attention to the tragic impact of conventional weapons around the world. Urgent measures must be adopted in that regard and, under the auspices of the United Nations, solutions to conflicts and instability must be found.

In addition to extinguishing international terrorism in all its forms, he said, the impact on the global village of national fights against the illegitimate occupation of their national territories must be supported. Those conflicts had caused all kinds of disasters and the occupation and repression that had triggered them had affected the world as a whole. United efforts should be found to deal with such scourges. If a fire happened in the global village, everyone should unite to put it out, before the flames extended to other parts of the village. Also disturbing was the increase in military expenditures, including imports into the Arab region, which had diverted resources earmarked for development to defensive weapons expenditures.

That was due, he went on, to the presence of the cruel and brutal entity in the region, which -- with its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and conventional arms -- was determined to further spread its policy of oppression and install more colonies in the area. The entity was also opposed to national efforts and refused to go along with international treaties. Also, it had refused to adhere to the NPT or transform the area into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Indeed, the disarmament process was undergoing a real crisis in view of the accumulation of nuclear weapons and the absence of effective measures to restore practical confidence in the area of conventional weapons.

In that regard, he said, the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was an important measure by which to consolidate trust. It should be broadened to ensure transparency and it should contain information about weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. He also supported international efforts to resolve the landmine question. The small arms Conference had produced an important document, but regrettably, it had not succeeded in reflecting the determination of the international community to resolve the problem completely. For example, agreement had not been reached on certain issues, among them the registration of the possession of small arms and the ban of sales of such arms to small groups.

In that regard, he called upon the international community to apply the main recommendations of that Conference. Those States that had not approved certain other issues should review their attitudes. In that way an international embargo on the trade of such lethal weapons could be achieved, once and for all. At the same time, he said, small States that did not have advanced weapons had the right to possess small arms.

LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ-LOPEZ (Guatemala) said that the current session opened with a special framework arising from a number of events, including the Millennium Assembly, the United Nations Conference on small arms, and, tragically, the terrorist attacks that had dealt such a heavy blow to the host country. The work of the First Committee would either promote or set back the interests of all humankind, because it discussed the endeavour to dismantle weapons that posed a threat to the safety and life of all human beings.

Messages of that type were often considered to be out of place and unrealistic, he continued. Realistic approaches could not, however, be allowed to drive out moral values or legal norms, because those norms and values had never held back development or hindered the harmonious coexistence of peoples. The events of 11 September were the result of the divorce of political action, on one hand, from morals and values on the other. It was more important than ever before to put an end to the manufacture of nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons that served to endanger people, rather than preserve their security. It was necessary to review all that pertained to the manufacture, sale and circulation of conventional weapons, small arms, anti-personnel mines, explosives and ammunition to keep them out of hands eager to use them in the pursuit of destruction.

Though the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in small arms was a step forward, it had failed to meet the expectations of all States involved, especially those nations that had suffered the destructive effects of those weapons first hand. The international community must take stock of the successes and failures of the United Nations in promoting disarmament, in order to go on to secure peace for humankind. Efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones must be redoubled. States must fulfil their responsibilities to the international community by participating in the CTBT, so that it might come into force. He urged all countries to pursue the fight against the trade of small arms, which provided protection for illegal activities like drug trafficking and terrorism. Further, he urged the United Nations and its Department for Disarmament Affairs to strengthen regional centres for disarmament.

JUAN GABRIEL VALDÉS(Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that the scale of attacks last month obliged the international community to redouble its efforts for international peace and security. The perpetrators of these terrorist acts must be brought to justice. Renewed importance must be given to preventing any future terrorist attacks using nuclear weapons.

The Committee should look at, among other things, measures concerning the control of small arms, landmines, and the physical protection of nuclear materials, he continued. The special importance of accession to the CTBT and NPT was underscored. Further, all 13 measures called for at the 2000 NPT Review Conference should be brought into effect. Creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was one of the most important achievements in the international community’s non-proliferation efforts. As representative of the first region in the world to have such a zone, he hoped for the strengthening and expansion of such zones, and perhaps creating one in the southern hemisphere. The efforts of the five Central Asian States to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone should be supported.

He said transport of nuclear waste posed threats to people near coastlines, the environment, and especially people of small island States, who were most vulnerable in the event of an accident. He praised recent progress on nuclear waste measures, but said the international community must work on the international law applicable in such cases.

In the efforts of the international community to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, the Chemical Weapons Convention was a good example, as it was non-discriminatory and would undoubtedly have a universal commitment, he said. The Rio Group, because its objective was the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, regretted the lack of agreement on the proposal concerning biological weapons. Countries were called on to report their expenditures to the bodies created by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, because, in order to be reduced, defence expenditures must be transparent. The Rio Group was firmly committed to the reduction of expenditures on defence throughout the region, so that more money would be available for development.

It was urgently necessary to achieve universal accession to the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of landmines, he continued. The recent conference in Managua, Nicaragua, on the subject was a welcome step in that direction. Countries of the Rio Group had taken efforts to make their region free of that type of weapon. Also, steps had been taken at the regional and international levels to combat the flow of illicit small arms and light weapons. The countries of the region would support the Programme of Action agreed to at the July 2001 United Nations Conference on small arms by holding a follow-up conference this year. In concluding, he expressed firm support for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Security in Latin America and the Caribbean and applauded all the efforts of the United Nations to promote peace and security in the region.

RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) said that the Committee was meeting against a backdrop of both remarkable achievements and serious challenges. Among the remarkable achievements was the nearly universal accession to certain legal instruments, including the Ottawa Convention and the CTBT. Negative developments included the ongoing reluctance by the only State in the Middle East with considerable nuclear weapons’ capability to adhere to the NPT and to place all of its nuclear installations and facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards. Other concerns had included the reluctance of nuclear-weapon States to meet their obligations under the NPT or agree on the convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.

He said his country had always been committed to international peace and security. As such, it had adhered to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Also, it had ratified the CTBT and the Ottawa Convention and had signed with the IAEA an additional protocol for safeguards. By so doing, it had completed its adherence to all international instruments providing for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as the prohibition of other weapons of mass destruction. Over the last two decades, the General Assembly had called upon all States in the Middle East, particularly the only State in the region with nuclear-weapon capabilities, to adhere, without delay, to the NPT and to place its nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards. All of the States in the region, except Israel, were parties to the NPT.

Since 1974, he continued, the Assembly had called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Since 1980, that resolution had gained momentum through its consensus adoption. Unfortunately, however, after more than six years since the historic 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and 2000 NPT Review Conference -- which called for progress towards the creation of such a zone -- no indication of such efforts had so far been felt in the region. The chances for a comprehensive, just and durable peace in the Middle East looked "too gloomy" without confidence-building between the parties involved. Yet, confidence could never be attained with the existence of nuclear weapons in the region.

Faced with the global scourge of small arms, the international community had now begun an important process of constructive global action. States had committed themselves to developing, strengthening and implementing norms and measures aimed at preventing, fighting and ultimately eradicating the illicit manufacture of, and trade in, small arms and light weapons. They had agreed to place special emphasis on post-conflict situations and, in particular, to provide greater support to programmes for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, including child ex-combatants. They had also agreed, among other things, to act responsibly in the areas of export, import, transit and retransfer of weapons, since legal weapons all too often found their way into the hands of terrorists, criminals and drug traffickers. Such gains must be consolidated, so that the grave threat those arms posed to international peace and security could be alleviated.

JEAN LINT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the events of 11 September had left them deeply shocked. The Union condemned all forms of terrorism and expressed its solidarity with the United States. It considered that disarmament and non-proliferation on a multilateral and general basis were today more necessary than ever, in order to prevent terrorists and their organizations from having any access to more powerful means of conducting their abhorrent activities. The Union would give its wholehearted support to international efforts in the areas of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, regarding both weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.

He said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means had posed a major problem. The Union called for the continuing commitment of the international community in the fight against such proliferation and in the efforts to achieve disarmament. The NPT remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. The countries of the Union were determined to take part in the full implementation of its objectives, as well as the decisions of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the result achieved at the 2000 Review Conference. Only universal access would ensure non-proliferation and disarmament worldwide. Thus, those States that had not yet done so should accede to the NPT.

In line with the commitments made by signing and ratifying the CTBT, he said the Union remained committed to the full implementation of the CTBT's verification regime and its early operation. In that respect, he recalled the statement made by the United States at the fifteenth preparatory committee meeting of the CTBT Organization on 21 August. While noting with satisfaction the United States' intention to maintain its moratorium on nuclear tests, the Union regretted its announcement that it would no longer take part in certain activities arising from the Treaty and was not intending to review its position on verification. That was a matter of concern, especially since the United States had, up to now, played an important role in nuclear arms control, particularly in the framework of the test-ban Treaty.

He said that negotiation at the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons constituted an essential stage in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and the Union regretted that a consensus had not yet been reached to launch such negotiation. Members should make every effort to attain that objective as soon as possible. In a related context, the Union repeated its appeal to the countries of South Asia to make every effort to prevent an arms race in the region. It asked India and Pakistan to cooperate in the efforts of the international community to strengthen the non-proliferation and disarmament regime, and repeated its call for them to implement the specific measures set out in the United Nations Security Council resolution 1172 (1998), in particular, the signing and ratification of the CTBT.

He said that the Union also: urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with its safeguards agreement and cooperate fully with the Director-General of the IAEA; appealed to that country to accede unconditionally to the CTBT, without delay; attached great importance to that country's continuing moratorium on missiles; and expressed its concern with regard to its exports of missiles and missile technology. The Union supported efforts to establish an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Accession by all States in the region to the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons would make an essential and extremely significant contribution to peace and regional and global security. All States in the region that had not yet done so should conclude full-scope IAEA safeguards agreements.

With respect to compliance with the NPT, he said that the situation in Iraq was also a matter of major concern for the Union. It noted with concern that the prolonged interruption of the weapons inspections there had complicated the IAEA's efforts to achieve accurate knowledge of Iraq's nuclear programme. The routine inspections had made it possible this year to carry out effective verification of the physical inventory of nuclear material, in accordance with the safeguards agreement signed by Iraq under the NPT. That verification could not, however, be a substitute for the activities that the Agency needed to conduct under the relevant Security Council resolutions.

He said that strengthening international norms and political instruments to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means was of prime importance to the Union. The draft international code of conduct against ballistic missile proliferation was the most concrete and advanced initiative in the field and offered the best chance of achieving results in the short term. After the code's adoption as a politically binding document, it might be useful to the United Nations as a model. The Chemical Weapons Convention was a unique disarmament and non-proliferation instrument, to which strict application must be fully guaranteed. Priority should also be given to reinforcing the Biological Weapons Convention.

Also, the Union welcomed the action plan of the small arms Conference, with particular reference to export controls, traceability of weapons, stockpile and surplus management, the triple aspect of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and cooperation and assistance. Although the Union had hoped that the Conference would succeed in going further on certain points, it particularly welcomed the follow-up process that had been put in place, which demonstrated that the Conference was a starting point of an important process. Regarding the Ottawa Convention, there was no time to lose in terms of laying down strict time limits for the destruction of stocks and the clearance of mined areas.

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