18 October 2001


NEW YORK, 17 October (UN Headquarters) -- The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its general debate this morning hearing from 12 more speakers, with several urging the international community to design a new security paradigm that would take into account the insecurity and instability emanating from the 11 September terrorist attack on the United States.

In that context, the representative of Pakistan stressed that nuclear disarmament must remain the highest priority and he urged the two major nuclear Powers to shoulder their primary responsibility to achieve further drastic reductions in their nuclear arsenals. He also cautioned against the potentially destabilizing effects to deterrence of the introduction of anti-ballistic missile systems in South Asia, and warned that the escalating asymmetry with respect to the build-up of conventional arms there was a recipe for generating ambitions of domination, and even military conquest.

A representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that pointing a finger at his country as a pretext for deploying a national missile defence was an open, direct challenge to it. As long as the United States continued to "provoke us" in order to establish such a defence, his country could not but take strong counter-measures in response. Another dark shadow, particularly on the security environment of north-east Asia, had been the attempt by Japan to become a military power and revive militarism.

The Ugandan representative said that the flourishing global arms market and increased global military spending had caused developing countries, especially in Africa, to divert their resources from development to arms acquisition. Such transfers of resources had fuelled conflicts in his region, worsened poverty and crippling disease, and promoted instability. He called for an urgent readjustment of policies and the reduction of arms expenditures in favour of programmes to promote peace, security and development.

The representative of Eritrea said that his country had been plagued by landmines since the beginning of its liberation struggle. Once again, its fields had been massively mined by an irresponsible and brutal Government, which was a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention). The signing of conventions, alone, would not eliminate the landmines scourge.

More than 90 speakers addressed the Committee’s general debate, which began on 8 October. Many of them underlined the effect of the recent terrorist attack on the Committee's agenda and linked the possible use of weapons of mass destruction to such new threats. The Committee was repeatedly warned that those risks had moved from the realm of speculation to the realm of the possible.

Delegations pressed the multilateral disarmament agenda by calling for the swift entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), universal adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), strengthened bans against the use of biological and chemical weapons, and the urgent start of talks on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Others drew attention to another potential challenge to global strategic stability, namely the expressed plans by the United States to establish national missile defence and abrogate the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty). That "star wars" reproduction, it was argued, would trigger an arms race and undermine the foundation of all international legal instruments in the field. Meanwhile, the parties to that Treaty -- the Russian Federation and the United States -- referred to the possible creation of a new strategic framework based on mutual confidence and real opportunities.

Many in the debate suggested said that the United Nations conference on small arms in July had marked the end of a long process of consciousness-raising about the deadly effects of those weapons and the beginning of a large-scale mobilization of the various players across the globe. Countries hailed the conference as an important first step, but urged follow-up agreements dealing with private possession of those arms and their transfer to non-State actors.

Statements this morning were also made today by the representatives of Ghana, Oman, Republic of Moldova, Cameroon, Armenia, Turkey and Kuwait. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also spoke. Representatives of Iraq and Kuwait spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 22 October, to begin its second phase of work, namely introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to conclude its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms limitation measures. Throughout the debate, issues of global stability and strategic security were examined in the context of the recent terrorist attack on the United States.

Today's debate was expected to focus further on a number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

The delayed entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will also be examined. The Treaty -- which outlaws all nuclear tests in all environments -– has still not received the number of ratifications it needs to enter into force. Thus, the Secretary-General is expected to convene a second Conference to facilitate its entry into force in November.

Under an unusual provision, the Treaty requires ratification by 44 States listed in an Annex. Of the 13 pending ratifications critical to its success, two are nuclear-weapon States -– China and the United States. The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam. (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).

Also in the context of nuclear disarmament, the Committee has before it a report of a group of States that call themselves the New Agenda Coalition. The 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 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems –- the ABM Treaty -– by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti-ballistic missiles, will also dominate the debate. The declared intention of the United States to build a national missile defence system prompted the introduction and adoption since 1999 of a resolution calling for continued efforts to strengthen and preserve the Treaty.

Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered. Existing zones include 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).


YAW ODEI OSEI (Ghana) said that the terrorist attacks of 11 September would forever remain etched in the minds of the international community. Ghana’s Permanent Representative had stated that "the fight against terrorism is beyond the scope and capacity of any one State, and requires the cooperation of all, at the national regional and global levels". September 11 had changed the world and the attitude for negotiations on disarmament must change in conformity with the new commitments made by the leaders of the First Committee.

The role of the First Committee was pertinent to global efforts to curb terrorism through the monitoring and control of weapons of mass destruction, he said. The international community’s efforts on disarmament issues should be characterized by renewed vigour. It was, therefore, disappointing that the Conference on Disarmament had again been unable to agree on a programme of work. Whether disarmament machinery succeeded or failed depended on the willingness of nuclear-weapons States to move away from doctrinal differences and get on with negotiations aimed at ridding the world of those destructive weapons. States were reminded of the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, which ruled there was an obligation to pursue, in good faith, negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear weapon-free zones made important contributions to international peace and security and Ghana supported the creation of such zones, especially in Asia and the Middle East, he said. Apart from nuclear disarmament, focus should be placed on the destabilizing effects of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. While all expectations of the recent United Nations small arms Conference had not been met, the programme of action was the beginning of a process that would help address the problem.

The Regional Centre for Peace and Development in Africa had continued to provide States, including Ghana, with substantive support for disarmament programmes. Because of the financial problems the Centre continued to face, Ghana had co-sponsored a draft resolution calling for better funding of the Centre. He hoped that the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs would be given adequate resources to continue making positive contributions.

TAHER MUQUAIBIL (Oman) said that Oman was keen to participate in measures to ensure international peace and security throughout the world. Oman had demonstrated its resolve to do so by signing, among others, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the CTBT. All Member States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, should commit themselves to the strict application of those treaties. He condemned the attacks on the United States on 11 September in the strongest terms. Efforts to combat terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations should be strongly supported.

Despite multilateral efforts to make a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, Israel’s failure to sign on to nuclear-related agreements prevented the creation of such a zone, he said. Israel must sign the relevant agreements and open itself to IAEA inspections. He hoped that the Indian Ocean region could be made safe for international peace and security through multilateral efforts. He also hoped that nuclear-weapon-free zones could be created throughout the world. The United Nations Conference on small arms had made a contribution to international peace and security when it shed light on the destruction wrought by those weapons. The Conference had also made obvious the need to balance controling the flow of those weapons with the legitimate right to self-defence.

KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that the attempt to establish a national missile defence was one of the world’s serious challenges. That reproduction of "star wars" was explicitly aimed at domination; an attempt to gain absolute military and strategic superiority. That would inevitably cause an arms race, undermine the foundation of all international legal instruments in the field and destroy global strategic stability. The United States was using the so-called "missile threat" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a pretext for its national missile defence system.

Continuing, he said that pointing a finger at his country as a pretext for deploying a national missile defence was an open, direct challenge to it. As long as the United States continued to "provoke us" by pursuing the establishment of a national missile defence, his country could not but take strong counter-measures in response. No country would tolerate the infringement upon its sovereignty and arbitrary actions contrary to United Nations' principles. Another dark shadow cast on global security, particularly the security environment of North-East Asia, was the attempt by Japan to become a military power and revive militarism.

He said that on 29 August, Japan had test-fired a large-scale carrier rocket "H-2A", which was easily convertible into an inter-continental ballistic missile. Japan’s Government had not disguised the fact that the rocket would be "exclusively used for a military purpose". Japanese authorities were now revising the "Law on Self-Defence Forces" with the aim of paving the way for an unrestricted overseas advance of its self-defence forces. Its large quantity of plutonium, with enough technology to manufacture tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, its test-firing of a large-scale carrier rocket and the revised Law on Self-Defense Forces were proof that Japan was "rushing headlong" toward reviving militarism and achieving military power.

He said his country's missile programme was of a peaceful nature that did not threaten those countries that respected its sovereignty. The United States and Japan should not misjudge the declaration by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of a moratorium on its satellite launch. Japan should bear in mind that its "reckless moves" for achieving its old dream would pay a hundred-fold price. His own country's army-first policy was most realistic, in view of the prevailing circumstances. Through that vital policy, the people firmly safeguarded the country’s sovereignty under arduous conditions, helped prevent war on the Korean peninsula and opened the way for peaceful reunification. The unstable situation on the peninsula was a product of cold war politics pursued by hostile forces.

He said he wished to make clear, once again, his country's position with respect to the safeguard agreement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The so-called "nuclear issue" had emanated from the sinister purpose of stifling his country against the background of the international political situation of the early 1990s, and it was essentially the product of the hostile policy of the United States towards his country. Implementing the safeguard agreement would automatically be resolved once that hostile relation was eased and the "DPRK-US Agreed Framework" was implemented. Hopefully, that explanation would help the European Union understand the issue and avoid repetition of its stereotyped and inappropriate arguments.

ION BOTNARU (Republic of Moldova) said that despite efforts made and positive results achieved in the field of disarmament, the goals of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime needed to be approached in a more vigorous way. Making progress in non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament was more important than ever in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11 September. Those tragic events had highlighted the urgency of addressing new and complex threats to international peace and security.

He said the Conference on Disarmament, the First Committee, and other multilateral fora must intensify their efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, strengthen multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regimes and eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Further progress on the CTBT, full implementation of the recommendations arising from the 2000 NPT Review Conference, preservation of the ABM Treaty, and the successful completion of Biological Weapons Convention negotiations were among the essential steps that the international community must take.

His country supported the efforts of the international community to minimize the suffering of combatants and civilians in armed conflicts, and had thus ratified the Ottawa Convention and the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Multilateral measures supporting transparency of matters related to conventional arms should be supported. His country had shown its commitment this year by giving information to the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms. It had welcomed the 1999 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe and was encouraged by recent efforts of the Russian Federation to reduce the number of its troops in the Transdnestrian region. Also important to the stability of the region was the elimination of the manufacture of and illicit trade in small arms. He hoped that the programme of action adopted at the United Nations Conference on small arms would be fully implemented and facilitate the peaceful settlement of conflicts regionally and globally.

NGOH NGOH FERDINAND (Cameroon) supported the pooling of efforts to combat terrorism. Recent developments in disarmament and international security had not offered grounds for optimism. He deplored the rise in global arms expenditures -- more than $800 billion in 2000. Also, the promising trends of last year had not been met. Those had included the encouraging results of the 2000 NPT Review Conference and the commitments made by world leaders at the Millennium Summit, particularly in the realm of nuclear disarmament. The picture was somber, as those commitments had essentially remained a "dead letter".

He said that ongoing disarmament negotiations had been marking time, leading to the Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to take up the so-called "crisis of multilateral diplomacy". Once again, the Conference on Disarmament had not managed to reach a meeting of the minds on a programme of work. Moreover, the CTBT had still not entered into force. Of the 44 States whose ratifications were required for its operation, only 31 had done so. Uncertainty with regard to the state of strategic relations among the major nuclear Powers and agreements in that realm was another subject of serious concern. Progress with respect to banning other weapons of mass destruction had been equally disappointing.

Yet, those weapons loomed over mankind and posed a threatening risk, he continued. Terrorist threats were currently being mobilized, showing how real that risk was. Indeed, concerns about weapons of mass destruction had gone from the realm of speculation to imposition on daily lives. At the same time, he called for the swift convening of a conference to promote the entry into force of the CTBT. Of overriding importance, meanwhile, was enforcement of the present moratorium against nuclear testing. Banning fissionable materials was another priority objective of the international community. It was time for States to display the necessary political will in that regard.

He said that the July Conference on small arms had marked the end of a long process of consciousness-raising about the deadly effects of those weapons. It had also been the point of departure for a large-scale mobilization of various international players to fight that scourge. Notwithstanding those tireless efforts, the Conference had not reached consensus on reducing individual ownership of small arms intended for the military, or landing in the hands of non-State actors. He also urged additional resources for the continuing successful operation of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa.

MOVSES ABELIAN (Armenia) said there were two main objectives of the disarmament process: the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons; and the reduction of conventional weapons. International terrorism was a new and difficult challenge that was well within the purview of the First Committee, because it was a threat to international peace and security. The effectiveness of concerted efforts in that area depended on States adapting the necessary measures at the national, regional and global levels.

Armenia had always supported multilateral efforts aimed at prohibiting weapons of mass destruction and reducing nuclear danger, he said. The NPT Treaty was a near-universal tool to advance nuclear disarmament and the most effective legal basis to prohibit and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The CTBT had become a main international tool against further nuclear testing. It was hoped that, under the terms of the CTBT, all countries would take steps to free the world of the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Though national missile defense was a direct response to missile proliferation, the deployment of such systems would endanger the whole process of nuclear disarmament and set a bad example for other disarmament regimes. He supported existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and called for the creation of new ones.

His Government supported efforts to curb the trade of small arms, which was a priority for its own defence, he said. In cooperation with international partners, Armenia had been working to adapt relevant national measures. In order to bolster international peace and security and stop the trade in small arms and light weapons, the international community should implement all measures agreed to in the programme of action adopted at the recent United Nations Conference on small arms. Recent tragic events had given utmost priority to efforts aimed at ending the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons, and the adoption of an effective protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention was a goal of Armenia’s. Also, landmines posed a grave threat to international peace and security and the Ottawa Convention had made a significant difference in reducing the dangers of anti-personnel mines. Though Armenia supported the aims of the Ottawa Convention, its full participation was contingent upon similar level of political commitment by other States in the region.

MEHMET UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said that the carnage of 11 September showed the necessity of considering disarmament and non-proliferation on a multilateral basis in order to prevent terrorists from having access to more powerful weapons. Turkey remained committed to the goal of general and complete disarmament under strict international control. That goal should be pursued realistically through a balanced approach encompassing steps related to both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) was of the utmost importance to the European security architecture, he said. The impact of the CFE Treaty's entry into force had been remarkable and its full implementation was of vital importance, because it contained a number of confidence-building measures. Another measure that would add to the security of the region was the programme of action that had been adopted at the recent United Nations Conference on small arms. Stopping the illicit flow of such weapons to terrorists, criminals and drug traffickers were among Turkey’s highest security priorities. Transparency in all transfers of Conventional arms, such as the inclusion of small arms and light weapons in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, should be encouraged.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery was a growing threat to the international community, he said. Despite international efforts, a few countries continued to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Progressive improvements in the range and accuracy of ballistic missiles made that development all the more worrying. The Middle East had the highest concentration of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missile programmes of any region in the world. Any credible effort to solve the problem must address the issue of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction in the region. It was extremely important for all countries of the region to sign, ratify and fully implement all international treaties and agreements aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. Extreme vigilance was called for in the transfers of materials that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, especially in regions like the Middle East.

His Government wanted other countries to share in disarmament and non-proliferation goals in the region and beyond, he said. As demonstration of its commitment to disarmament, Turkey had adhered to several important agreements, including the CTBT. Effective implementation of the CTBT would benefit all global nuclear non-proliferation efforts and, especially, the NPT, a pillar in the regime. Great importance should be attached to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as had been called for at the 1995 NPT Conference. Turkey advocated the speedy entry into force of the strengthened safeguards of the IAEA.

The Chemical Weapons Convention represented another attempt to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, he said. Turkey fully complied with the Convention's provisions and encouraged all countries, particularly those in its region, to become parties to it. Turkey had shown its support for the principles of the Ottawa Convention, though its security situation was very different from many of the States that advocated the Convention. Turkey had initiated contacts with neighboring countries to keep their borders free of mines and wished to reiterate its intention to become party to the Ottawa Convention. Turkey and Greece would concurrently start procedures that would make both States party to the Convention.

FRED BEYENDEZA (Uganda) said that the events of 11 September, more than any others, should accelerate momentum for addressing the challenges in the field of disarmament. Measures should be taken to strengthen existing agreements seeking to reduce, and even eliminate, nuclear weapons. There were tens of thousands of those weapons in stockpiles; one stockpile was already one too many in terms of its capacity to destroy. He urged universal adherence to the NPT and the successful operation of the CTBT. Hopefully, the Conference on Disarmament could start negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, and the fifth Review Conference of the parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, set for 19 November, would be successful.

He said that the flourishing global arms market and increased military spending worldwide had caused developing countries, especially in Africa, to divert their resources to arms acquisition. Such transfers of resources had direct bearing on the causes of conflicts within his region, and might be responsible for the devastating poverty, crippling disease, and constant instability. He called for an urgent readjustment of policies and the reduction of arms expenditures in favour of programmes to promote peace, security and development. Having joined the overwhelming consensus to adopt an action programme at the July conference on small arms, he looked forward to further reviews on the subject, including resolution of the private possession of weapons and arms transfers to non-State actors.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the tragedy of 11 September had illustrated the threat from terrorism in a globalized, yet unequal, world and threw into bold relief the new dimensions of insecurity and instability. Nuclear disarmament must retain the highest priority. Nuclear deterrence, so long as it served strategic stability, should be maintained at the lowest possible level. The two major nuclear Powers continued to shoulder the primary responsibility to achieve further drastic reductions in their nuclear arsenals. The NPT-recognized nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and should, therefore, agree to negotiate nuclear disarmament within the Conference on Disarmament.

He said he was committed to begin talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Also, talks within the Conference on Disarmament on assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons could help evolve agreed practical measures to reduce the danger of those weapons. A change in the present arrangement with regard to the ABM Treaty should be evolved through a cooperative approach among all concerned States. The implications of theatre missile defences for stability in some of the world's most sensitive regions needed much greater attention. He was particularly concerned about the introduction of ABM systems in South Asia, which could destabilize the present deterrence.

He said that insufficient attention had been devoted to the threat to global and regional peace and stability posed by the expansion, proliferation and increasing sophistication of conventional weapons. The widening gap in technological capabilities -- encompassed by the so-called "revolution in military affairs" -- and in the size of military budgets between the rich and poor, was increasing the imbalance in conventional force capabilities at international and regional levels. That escalating asymmetry was a recipe for generating ambitions of domination and even military conquest. The international community must now address the problem of conventional arms control and disarmament in a comprehensive and credible manner.

At a time when the world, and Pakistan, was focused on eliminating terrorism in Afghanistan, the threats from its eastern neighbour in the form of pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan, and the artillery barrages unleashed, had illustrated its desire to exploit the situation to secure concessions on Kashmir. His country hoped that the international community would dissuade its neighbour from recourse to "adventurism or blackmail". At the same time, the new international paradigm also offered an opportunity to build a new and stable security architecture for South Asia and a just and peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute.

He proceeded to outline his country's concept for a "strategic restraint" regime involving nuclear restraint, conventional arms balance and a political mechanism for the resolution of disputes and conflicts, especially Kashmir. Pakistan and India could agree to: formalize respective unilateral nuclear test moratoriums; not operationally "weaponize" nuclear-capable missile systems; not operationally deploy nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and keep them on de-alert; formalize the previous understanding to provide prior and adequate notification of flight tests of missiles; observe a moratorium on the acquisition, deployment and development of anti-ballistic missile systems; and implement further confidence-building and transparency measures to reduce the risk of the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation or accident.

Also, he continued, open discussions should be held on the nuclear security doctrines of the two countries, with a view to forestalling an all-out nuclear arms race, and reaching agreement on the non-use of force, including the non-use of nuclear weapons. The maintenance of a conventional balance between Pakistan and India was vital to ensuring nuclear stability in the region. During the past decade, Pakistan's conventional capabilities had been considerably eroded due to one-sided sanctions, while its neighbour had been relentlessly pursuing a major conventional arms build-up. A significant conventional imbalance would inevitably further increase Pakistan's reliance on the nuclear dimension of deterrence. The international community must discourage India's massive military acquisitions. Profits from arms sales could not compensate the enhanced danger of war in a nuclearized South Asia.

TAREQ AL-BANAI (Kuwait) said that the United States and the international community should be reassured that Kuwait would do all it could to aid in efforts to combat terrorism. The attacks of 11 September had been against all of humanity. There was a common political will both to combat terror and to create a world free of nuclear weapons.

Despite the end of cold war, the threat of nuclear weapons hung over the world as weapons proliferated and nuclear-weapon States kept their stockpiles, he continued. Keeping nuclear weapons was no longer a viable option, as had been agreed at the Millennium Summit. The international community called on the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate all of their nuclear weapons and to remember the 1996 International Court of Justice decision, which says States must take steps to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Another year had passed without the NPT or CTBT coming into force and threats continued to proliferate as the Conference on Disarmament was unable to agree on an agenda. Those failures had caused a certain amount of pessimism around the world, spurring countries to arm themselves, rather than pay due attention to development.

Kuwait was supportive of efforts to create peace in the region, he said. All Arab states had signed the NPT, but one State, Israel, continued to flout the treaty, posing a threat to international peace and security as a result. Israel must sign the NPT and open itself to IAEA inspectors. Further, no States should help Israel develop any weapons of mass destruction. By refusing to be party to important agreements, Israel contradicted its own professed commitment to peace. Kuwait was especially sensitive to the use of weapons of mass destruction, because it had been the victim of such weapons at the hands of Iraq.

Iraq continued to pursue the development of weapons of mass destruction and had used such weapons against its own people, he said. The Secretary-General had stated that Iraq was not abiding by provisions of Security Council resolutions and had not cooperated with the international community. The President of the Security Council recently reported that there could be no guarantees that Iraq had complied with important Security Council resolutions, including Security Council resolution 687(1991).

AMARE TEKLE (Eritrea) said that the past year had been a particular source of worry and frustration in the field of arms control and disarmament. The threat of nuclear weapons had, once again, become real. The adoption of unjustifiable strategic doctrines, the unrestrained development and stockpiling of old and new nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as the forging of new alliances, had made the threat to peace real. His Government was convinced that the question of security became more relevant to many countries in the context of the centrality of the overwhelming socio-economic problems and immense structural changes threatening their peoples.

He said that it was no longer possible to address disarmament and international peace and security issues in any meaningful way without linking those to the rising levels of poverty, destabilizing migration flows and the displacement of populations, as well as to food shortages, malnutrition and famine, declining public health and education, and intensifying terrorism and criminal violence. Those problems could not be resolved by old-fashioned State-centered approaches, but by focusing and concentrating on communities. It would be futile to define national security narrowly, in view of the catastrophe of 11 September. Close cooperation on the possession of weapons of mass destruction was now urgent.

Also urgent, he said, was the need to address the challenges posed by the proliferation and easy accessibility of small arms and light weapons at the regional level. Those arms had not only become threats to national and regional peace, security and stability, but had posed grave dangers to the socio-economic development of many countries, especially the least developed ones. He, therefore, was convinced of the urgent need to establish an internationally sanctioned set of rules, standards and guidelines, which could effectively regulate the reduction of small arms stockpiles and check their trafficking. The inconclusive results of the small arms conference demanded the convening of another one in the near future.

He said that Eritrea's citizens had been victims of those infernal weapons -- landmines -- since the beginning of their liberation struggle. Unfortunately, Eritrean fields, once again, had been massively mined by an irresponsible and brutal Government, which was a signatory to the Ottawa Convention. Peasants who had fled their homes could not return because of a heartless enemy with the criminal intent of preventing a quick return of the peasants to normal life. That enemy had also refused to provide complete maps of the mined areas. Evidently, the signing of conventions, alone, would not eliminate landmines.

GEORGES PACLISANU, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that in the next eight weeks, two important review conferences would be held in Geneva on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Biological Weapons Convention. The second review conference of the Conventional Weapons Convention would provide a unique opportunity to extend protection of the Convention for combatants and non-combatants, as well as extending it to cover the explosive remnants of war. States parties should reach agreement on minimal standards pertaining to the explosive remnants of war, including those used in internal conflicts.

Long after conflicts ended, unexploded mines, booby traps, missiles and other munitions remained behind causing great damage, he said. The scale of the problem was likely to grow with the increased ability to deliver munitions over long distances, which would lead to even more massive damage. States must, therefore, reach agreement on a new protocol on the unexploded remnants of war that would address the issues based on principles already agreed to in the Convention. These principles included the responsibility to provide information that would help efforts to clear ordnance, the provision of technical assistance, the provision of aid to affected civilians, and the prohibition on the use of sub-munitions in areas near civilians.

He added that the upcoming conference on the Biological Weapons Convention should reaffirm the international community’s abhorrence of the use of those weapons for any reason, by anyone, at any time. It would be an opportunity to reaffirm commitment to the 1925 Convention prohibiting the use of such weapons. States were urged to strengthen the Convention to ensure that advances in bio-engineering and bio-technology were used for and not against the interests of humankind.

September’s Ottawa Convention conference in Managua, Nicaragua had been an important opportunity to discuss progress made, he said. All States that had not yet done so should adhere to the Convention. In countries its where mine action provisions were pursued, the number of victims of mines had fallen dramatically. Since 1997, the ICRC had tripled its mine awareness programmes and doubled its programmes to help those injured by anti-personnel mines. The July United Nations conference on small arms and light weapons had drawn attention to the great cost of unhindered access to those weapons, which fueled both crime and terrorism. The programme should now be implemented.

Right of Reply

MOHAMMED MAHMOUD (Iraq), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Kuwaiti delegation had expressed his usual claims about Iraq. That was no surprise, especially from a country that was committing a continuous daily aggression against Iraq. It had allowed British and American planes to bomb Iraq from the no-fly zones, proceeding from the Kuwaiti territories. That had led to the killing of innocent civilians, in violation of the United Nations Charter and the resolutions of international legitimacy. As the United Nations Secretary-General had said, those zones were illegal.

He said that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction, as indicated in some of the documents of the Organization. It was ready and willing to discuss that with any delegation that sought information and documents proving that point. That was what had been done by Iraq in the "meeting of dialogue" with the Secretary-General. Regarding the so-called prisoners, he said that it was better to resort to the phrasing used by the ICRC, namely the Kuwaiti missing persons. The condition of the exchange of prisoners was among the conditions of the 1991 ceasefire. Iraq had fulfilled its commitments in connection with that issue, as had been indicated by the ICRC.

He called upon Kuwait to respond to the call made by the League of Arab States and Iraq to sit together with Iraq in order to solve the issue of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti missing persons and not to politicize that question. He also called upon Kuwait to reconsider its aggressive policies towards Iraq and desist from circulating false allegations and false claims. In the present international forum for discussing disarmament questions, he said, its noble goal was about more than just labeling accusations; it sought to maintain international peace and security.

TAREQ AL-BANAI (Kuwait) could not sit and listen to the representative of Iraq levy accusations towards his country for no reason. The issue was one of credibility. If Iraq had fulfilled all that was required of it under the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Council would not be engrossed in dealing with the issue of Iraq.

He said that all he had done was state the facts -- what the Secretary-General had stated in his annual report on the work of Organization, as well as what the Director-General of the IAEA had stated in a letter to the Security Council presidency just two weeks ago -- reaffirming that Iraq had not fulfilled its obligations under Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and all other relevant texts.

As for the prisoners of war, he said that had he intended to politicize that issue, he would have done so a long time ago. Its importance lay in the fact that the Security Council had issued nine presidential statements requiring Iraq to commence its cooperation with the ICRC and the Tripartite Commission and others appointed by the Secretary-General to follow up that issue. He added that he had not intended to waste the Committee's time; he had only stated the facts with regard to disarmament.

Mr. MAHMOUD (Iraq), said he had also referred to documents that had clearly stated that Iraq had concluded its obligation. What the Kuwaiti delegation was referring to had no proven credibility, especially the politicization of the issue before the Council. With respect to the missing Kuwaitis, on that question, as Iraq had stated, it was always ready to sit with Kuwait and discuss that issue with it, and others that truly had missing persons.

He said his country had done so last year with Saudi Arabia and had been able to successfully solve a missing person file. He called again on Kuwait, as the Arab League had done, to cooperate with Iraq in that question and solve the question of the missing Iraqis and Kuwaitis.

Mr. AL-BANAI (Kuwait) said his country had been ready to talk with regards to its missing prisoner of war in the legitimate international forum -- the Tripartite Commission and ICRC. It was not the Kuwaitis who had boycotted the meeting with the ICRC that dealt with that issue, but Iraq that had consistently refused to attend those meetings, thereby using that humanitarian issue as a political card.

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