Syria is back peddling again, now that one of it’s representatives to the UN slipped up and said that Israel violated its airspace when it attacked the Nascent Syrian/N. Korean Nuclear facility on July 6, 2007.
Syria denied on Wednesday reports that one of its representatives to the United Nations said that a nuclear facility was hit last month by Israeli warplanes, and added that “such facilities do not exist in Syria,” the state-run news agency said.
The Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quoting a Foreign Ministry source, said that Syria had made it clear in the past that there are no such facilities in Syria.
On Tuesday, a U.N. press release sent after a meeting of the First Committee, Disarmament and International Security, in New York paraphrased an unnamed Syrian representative as saying that a nuclear facility was hit
The U.N. release, which were minutes of the meeting, paraphrased the Syrian representative as saying that Israel was the fourth largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations’ airspace. It said paraphrased the representative as saying that Israel had taken action against nuclear facilities, including one in Syria on July 6.
Nascent nuclear facility?
It was on Sept. 6, however, that Israeli warplanes carried out an airstrike in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey. The target remains unknown but widespread reports say it may have been a nascent nuclear facility, a claim Syria has denied.
President Bashar Assad said earlier this month that the target was an “unused military building.”
The Syrian news agency on Wednesday said the press release misquoted the Syrian diplomat.
“A Foreign Ministry official source denies reports by some media organizations,” that the representative in New York said Israel carried a raid on a nuclear facility, SANA said.
“Such facilities do not exist in Syria and this is what Syria has already explicitly clarified,” SANA said.
A full transcript of the meeting in New York was not immediately available.
Israeli radio stations, citing unidentified Israeli diplomats, earlier Wednesday had quoted the Syrians as telling the U.N. meeting that a nuclear target had been struck. However, the Israeli radio reports did not say whether the Israeli diplomats had attended the session or merely had read the U.N. press release on the meeting.
The U.N. in New York could not immediately be reached for comment on whether its press release had accurately paraphrased the Syrian official.
Update: Notice that the reference to a nuclear facility has been removed… The UN has published the minutes:
16 October 2007
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-second General Assembly
7th & 8th Meetings (AM & PM)
DELAY IN REAPING ‘DISARMAMENT DIVIDEND’ DIVERTS RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPMENT, FUELS
CONFLICT, FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD TODAY AS IT CONCLUDES GENERAL DEBATE
World Safer Four Decades Ago; Now, ‘Faceless, Nameless Non-State Actors’ Have
Weapons of Mass Destruction, Many Countries on Verge of Joining ‘Nuclear Club’
Every time there was a failure to make progress in disarmament, an opportunity was missed to divert much needed resources for development, and the delay in reaping that disarmament dividend was fuelling conflicts and entrenching gaps in meeting resources for those more important concerns, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today.
Upon the conclusion of the Committee’s general debate, Nepal’s representative said the world was spending huge amounts of money on armaments –- more than $1.2 trillion — whereas only a fraction of that expenditure would go a long way towards fighting poverty and correcting other imbalances in development in the developing countries, particularly the least developed countries.
The international community still awaited the dividend promised at the end of the cold war and again at the onset of the twenty-first century, Sri Lanka’s speaker said. The road maps created to achieve disarmament objectives at several major international conferences, like the General Assembly special sessions on disarmament and the Millennium Summit, still remained to be fully implemented.
Concerned that little progress had been made on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation in the 40 years since the adoption of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said he regretted that the integrity and relevance of the international non-proliferation regime was being undermined. Moreover, the unwillingness of the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty was deepening the gap between the nuclear “haves” and “have-nots”.
Zambia’s representative said the world of four decades ago was safer, since it was clear who had nuclear weapons, whereas today, “faceless, nameless non-State actors” had weapons of mass destruction, largely because of non-compliance and non-implementation of the commitments States undertook when they joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Acknowledging that the General Assembly adopted many resolutions each year on the issue of disarmament, he said that “in our case, the saying does not hold true that ‘the devil is in the details’. Our devil clearly lies in non-implementation and non-compliance.” The Non-Proliferation Treaty was an example of non-compliance, with the “nuclear club” growing, and many countries on the verge of joining, he warned.
Iran’s representative said that the international community, more than ever, was concerned by the continued existence of thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpiles of a “certain nuclear-weapon State”. The United States, which boasted to be the leader in the fight against weapons of mass destruction, continued to stress the “essential role of nuclear weapons as an effective tool” for achieving security and its foreign policy objectives.
He said the United States was developing a new nuclear weapon system, constructing new facilities for producing nuclear weapons, and resuming efforts to develop and deploy tactical nuclear weapons, despite the commitment to effectively reduce them. The same country was planning to spend $50 billion on a missile shield, in order to gain “absolutely security” for itself. That would only lead to the creation of a “strategy and security gap within the overall global nuclear posture, with grave and long-term consequences for the whole world”.
For its part, Iran’s nuclear programme was “completely peaceful”, he stressed. All of the reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2003 had confirmed the peaceful nature of the programme. Nevertheless, the Security Council had taken “unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable actions” against the nuclear programme in Iran, which presented no threat to international peace and security, and fell outside the Council’s Charter-based mandate. The resolution adopted by the Council had been derived –- not from any so-called proliferation concerns –- but from ulterior motives and narrow national considerations, aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights.
He recalled Iran’s recent new initiative, by which his country had agreed to negotiate with the IAEA on the modality of dealing with the few outstanding issues. The final text of the mutual understanding was concluded on 21 August in Tehran, and called for all issues to be taken up in a “sequential and well-defined timeframe”. In a very short period of time, two of the remaining issues — plutonium experiment and the contamination at the Karaj Facility — were resolved. The IAEA Director General had called the agreed modality a “significant step forward”. Indeed, Iran’s initiative had “opened a window of opportunity for the return of Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Agency’s framework in full”, he said.
Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Sudan, India, San Marino, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Singapore, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Jordan and Uganda.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Iran, the Russian Federation, Syria, Egypt and Georgia.
The Permanent Observers of the Holy See and Palestine addressed the Committee during the debate, as did a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Committee meets again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 October, to begin its thematic debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly. (For background of the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3339 and GA/DIS/3340.)
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said that developments since the last Committee session had indicated that technological advances were being used to enhance the sophistication of arms build-up, rather than disarmament. His country once again reaffirmed that multilateralism, premised on the United Nations Charter, was the only way to address the complexity of disarmament, and international peace and security agendas. Unilateralism was the opposite, as it made the globe more unsafe. The international community should constructively engage in promoting multilateralism, as a core principle and direction for international collective security.
He said his country was a party to all the important treaties and agreements related to disarmament. It remained Sudan’s firm belief that total and complete disarmament was vital to the maintenance of international peace and security, notwithstanding the serious setbacks in the past years. In 2005 and 2006, no substantive consensus document had been achieved, especially at the multilateral conferences, namely the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the 2005 World Summit, and the United Nations review of the implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Military expenditure had also risen to a record figure, at 37 per cent more than what it was 10 years ago. Serious effort must be exerted to reverse that trend.
The cornerstone for non-proliferation was the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, he went on. The only path to achieving that goal was through Israel’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its full submission of all its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Sudan further called on all relevant States to ratify the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), so that it could enter into force without further delay. Additionally, efforts by Member States towards peaceful uses of nuclear energy should not be hindered or compromised.
He noted that his country had continued to engage constructively in the ongoing discussions on ways and means to develop an international strategy aimed at controlling the transfer, import and export of conventional weapons. It would assess the feasibility of such a strategy and seek to ensure that it served the disarmament objectives within the multilateral context, while ensuring full transparency without prejudice to the legitimate rights of Member States. Sudan’s deep concern about the lack of significant progress in the implementation of the Action Programme to combat the illicit small arms trade also included the illegal transfer of such weapons to armed groups and non-State actors, as that fuelled civil wars and conflicts in Africa.
SUSHMA SWARAJ ( India) said the very existence of nuclear weapons posed a threat to mankind. While the ban on biological and chemical weapons had raised the hope that a similar prohibition could be imposed on the remaining weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons stockpiles, both strategic and non-strategic, were still too large, and mostly on hair-trigger readiness. The threat of nuclear war remained real. The goal must be the total elimination of nuclear weapons for a nuclear-weapon-free world. Once the international community agreed on that goal, States could work together to “elaborate incremental and progressive steps” for realizing it, and the international community could “craft a security system in which States do not feel the need to develop, produce, stockpile or use weapons of mass destruction”. Both would require changes in attitudes, doctrines and national security postures to bring them more in line with today’s globalized, interdependent world.
Turning to regional matters, she said that India remained committed to nuclear disarmament, while it maintained a “credible minimum nuclear deterrent”. India’s nuclear doctrine was based on no first use, and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. India was prepared to enter into multilateral, legally binding obligations. India was also prepared to join multilateral negotiations on the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons, and had continued to observe a moratorium on nuclear explosive tests. The country was also willing to join negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material. It would table a resolution in the Committee on reducing nuclear danger, with “modest and practical” proposals calling for a review of nuclear doctrines, as well as urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons.
On terrorism, she said there was a new threat to the safety of mankind emanating from the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists and non-State actors. Hopefully, the resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring mass destruction weapons, adopted by the First Committee and the General Assembly since 2002, would be endorsed again this year. Meanwhile, the entry into force on 7 July of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism had been welcome.
As a “responsible nuclear Power”, India stood for strengthening global non-proliferation, as proliferation had already affected its security interests adversely, she said. A constructive dialogue should be evolved for stemming proliferation without constraining peaceful uses of nuclear energy. India remained constructively engaged in collateral disarmament processes, including on small arms and light weapons, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions (respectively, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and On Their Destruction, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and On Their Destruction), and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects).
She noted that India had destroyed 84 per cent of its chemical weapons stockpile, and was committed to destroying the entire stockpile by April 2009. Her country had also been among the first 23 States to have ratified Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on explosive remnants of war, and was one of 25 countries to have signed and ratified that Convention.
DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) said that his country was one of the few that did not have an army. San Marino believed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was the backbone of the non-proliferation regime. The country had taken note of the positive outcomes with regard to some international conventions. Because of those outcomes, the life conditions of civilians had substantially improved. Despite that progress, the world was still not secure. Small arms and light weapons remained a major threat to international peace and security, and those weapons continued to cause the deaths of innumerable innocent people. The existing insecurity had also been reflected in the remarks made by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs when he noted that large numbers of people around the world lived in countries with nuclear weapons.
He said it was a matter of great concern that such an unthinkable number of nuclear weapons still existed. Reducing the number of those weapons, however, was not enough. Each nuclear-weapon State should commit to completely eliminating them for the safety of both the possessor States and the non-possessor States. With the existence of those weapons, the risk of a nuclear accident was exponentially increased. The international community did not have any other alternative; all nations needed to get together immediately to address the disarmament challenge.
NASER ABDULLAH H. M. AL-HAYEN (Kuwait), aligning himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said there had been a “regrettable chain of failures” in the field of disarmament, among them the failure of the 2005 World Summit, the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and the United Nations review of the small arms Programme of Action. The arms race continued, owing to a lack of trust, the building of which was one of the most important prerequisites for achieving peace and security. Hopefully, all States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty would fulfil their obligations, in close collaboration with the IAEA.
On Iran, he said the recent agreement between that country and the IAEA had been a “positive step to dispel fears and suspicions concerning the Iranian nuclear programme”, and he called for a continued and transparent dialogue. Such talks would also create the necessary conditions for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. He also welcomed the peaceful solutions growing out of negotiations on the “ North Korea file”.
He stressed the importance of pressuring Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to subject its nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards. He confirmed the right of States to obtain the know-how and technology to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Commending the opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in July 1997 on the illegal use of nuclear weapons or the threat of their use to resolve conflicts, he called for security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States. He also called for a treaty to ban the production of fissionable material.
Kuwait had submitted the required report clarifying the measures his country had taken to comply with Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), aimed at preventing weapons of mass destruction from reaching terrorist groups, he said. He called for the total implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, particularly article VI on nuclear disarmament, and article IV, concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He also stressed the need to adhere to the principles in the final document of the tenth session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament and the outcome of the 1995 Review Conference of the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well to the outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, especially the 13 practical steps towards general and complete disarmament.
He said his country also supported the outcome text of the fourth conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. On small arms and light weapons, Kuwait welcomed the adoption in 2005 by the General Assembly of an international mechanism to allow States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. Hopefully, consultations in the Committee would be transparent, comprehensive and aim at reaching consensus.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon), noting this month’s progress towards a settlement of the nuclear issue with regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, pointed out, however, that delays had often characterised disarmament efforts with regard to nuclear weapons and small arms and light weapons. At the same time, he reaffirmed the right of States to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the need for all States to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
He said that a most dangerous development had occurred last year with regard to the “open secret” of Israel’s nuclear programme, which had been “carried out” with the support of certain States. In 2006, Robert Gates had declared before the United States Congress that Iran was surrounded by nuclear Powers, thereby confirming Israel’s nuclear status. That declaration was further confirmed by the Israeli Prime Minister in an interview. It was important to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Establishing such zones was no longer a question of theory; many nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties had been concluded in other regions. The goal for the Middle East depended on imposing on Israel to respect the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The absence of such a zone in the region could motivate the arms race.
Tackling the problem of weapons of mass destruction did not reduce the peril of small arms and light weapons. Hundreds of cluster bombs had been planted by Israel in Lebanon during the 2006 war, and, as a result, many civilians had been wounded. In that regard, Israel’s terrorism affected Lebanon. The quest for disarmament could only succeed if small arms and light weapons were controlled.
MOHAMMED AQEEL BA-OMAR ( Oman) said flexibility and political will were the key factors in getting out of the “deadlock and drifting”, which had afflicted all areas of disarmament. It was necessary to change the pessimistic atmosphere, secure the Non-Proliferation Treaty and ensure that the Test-Ban Treaty entered into force. Oman had made efforts in disarmament, becoming party to a number of treaties and conventions, and he called on other States to do the same.
He said that all States had the right to legitimate self-defence, and all States were entitled to use nuclear power under the safeguards of the IAEA. Weapons of mass destruction should be destroyed, but no success had been achieved in that regard, owing to the lack of a serious approach and to double standards.
The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was imperative, as that would create the right atmosphere for cooperation, stop the arms race, and increase peace and trust in the region, he said. Such a zone required the support of the international community. He voiced concern over the lack of security in that region, with Israel outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel should submit its nuclear installations to the international monitoring system and abide by the rules of the IAEA.
He said that Oman supported the efforts made by Iran, by friendly countries, and by the IAEA to find a solution to the problem. He supported the recent developments flowing from the six-party talks concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and hoped those would continue. On small arms and light weapons, Oman had sought to implement the 2001 United Nations Action Programme, and he urged other countries to do the same to end that “serious phenomenon”.
An effective and transparent disarmament effort was needed, and he supported the Secretary-General’s restructuring of Disarmament Affairs, especially the appointment of a Special Representative. He was confident that the work of the First Committee would lead to peace, disarmament and security.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM ( Sri Lanka) said that the international community still awaited the dividend promised at the end of the cold war, and again, at the onset of the twenty-first century. The road maps and action programmes created to achieve disarmament objectives at several major international conferences, such as the General Assembly special sessions on disarmament and the Millennium Summit, still remained to be fully implemented.
He said it was distressing that little progress had been made on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation in the 40 years since the adoption of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nuclear weapons remained the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction. Sri Lanka regretted that the integrity and relevance of the international non-proliferation system, centred on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was being undermined in many ways. The unwillingness of the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty’s article VI was deepening the gap between the nuclear “haves” and “have-nots”. Strengthening the existing non-proliferation regime by remedying deficiencies was urgent. Parallel efforts must also be made to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes of other mass destruction weapons, namely the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.
Today, more lives were lost daily due to the illicit trade in and easy availability of small arms and light weapons, primarily in the hands of non-State actors, he said. Thus, the full implementation of the Action Programme on small arms was of paramount importance. The failure of its review had been worrying, but the forthcoming biennial meeting was an opportunity to renew the commitment to the Action Programme and to seek ways to further strengthen its implementation. The United Nations should play a major role in implementation and follow-up action.
KENNETH GOH (Singapore), associating himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that security, together with sustainable development and respect for human rights, was a fundamental pillar on which the United Nations had been built. However, humanity continued to live in insecurity under the threat of nuclear weapons. No progress could be made if nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were regarded as “competing priorities”. Indeed, disarmament and non-proliferation served the interests of nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States, alike. To highlight the risk posed by nuclear terrorism, he cited the arrest in Georgia earlier this year of a smuggler carrying nuclear-bomb-grade uranium. Chemical and biological weapons also posed a serious danger, particularly as information about their production was available on the Internet.
He said that Singapore, as a small country with an open economy connected to the world through trade and transport links, was particularly vulnerable to attack. The country, therefore, had consistently supported multilateral non-proliferation instruments, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Test-Ban Treaty. In 2003, Singapore had become the first operational Container Security Initiative port in Asia and, in 2005, it was the first port in South-East Asia to have joined the Megaports Initiative.
The illicit trade in conventional weapons must also be addressed, he said, adding that Singapore supported the full implementation of the related Programme of Action. He emphasized that disarmament and non-proliferation required a multilateral approach based on the rule of law. “Treaties and conventions, especially those related to nuclear weapons, must see progress to remain credible”, he said, noting the importance of implementing commitments. The United Nations had a central role to play in overcoming disarmament and non-proliferation challenges, as no other body possessed the same international legitimacy.
PHOMMA KHAMMANICHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning himself with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that today’s world was one of “accelerating but unmitigated global risks”, with internal conflicts, international terrorism, the arms race and weapons of mass destruction posing grave threats to the very existence of mankind. Progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation had been slow, and nuclear weapons continued to be developed and stockpiled, while military doctrines were being revised to place a greater reliance on their use.
He called on Member States to fulfil their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to guarantee States’ rights to the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. He was pleased with the increasing accessions to and ratifications of the Test-Ban Treaty, and with the conclusion of the recent conference in Vienna to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force. Also commendable had been the launch on 20 August of the Implementation Support Unit of the Biological Weapons Convention. Results on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention had also been gratifying.
Nuclear-weapon-free zones were a valuable platform for promoting nuclear disarmament, he said, noting this year’s tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the South-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok). However, the accession of nuclear-weapon States to the Protocol was needed for the Treaty to become operational. He joined the ASEAN States in welcoming China’s readiness to join that Treaty, and encouraged wide support for the draft resolution to be tabled by Indonesia on the Treaty.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) aligned himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that Iran, as the only victim of the use of chemical weapons in recent history, was “highly motivated” to pursue the goal of a world free from weapons of mass destruction. The international community should not accept that the coming generations would continue to live “under the horrifying shadow of possible use of WMD”. It must be ensured that the people of Iran remained “the very last victim” of the use of weapons of mass destruction “at any time and under any circumstances”.
With that in mind, he said, Iran had adhered to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and was calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The existence and development of new types of weapons, and horizontal and vertical proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, continued to pose a real threat to regional and international peace and security.
Today the international community, more than ever, was concerned by the continued existence of thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpiles of a “certain nuclear-weapon State”, he said. The United States, which boasted to be the leader in the fight against weapons of mass destruction, continued to stress the “essential role of nuclear weapons as an effective tool” for achieving security and its foreign policy objectives, and to threaten to target non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was developing a new nuclear weapon system, constructing new facilities for producing nuclear weapons, and resuming efforts to develop and deploy tactical nuclear weapons, despite the commitment to effectively reduce them.
He said that was among the “long list of non-compliance” of the United States with its obligations. That same country was planning to spend $50 billion on a missile shield, in order to gain “absolutely security” for itself. That would only lead to the creation of a “strategy and security gap within the overall global nuclear posture, with grave and long-term consequences for the whole world”. In an interdependent world, however, such a goal was neither achievable nor possible.
It was important to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said. Israel remained the only impediment to realizing such a zone, due to its non-adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the continued “clandestine operation” of its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. It was “ironic” that the United States continued to supply Israel with material and financial support for its weapons of mass destruction programme. Israel’s possession of a nuclear arsenal was an “open secret”, which the Israeli Prime Minister had finally acknowledged during an interview on German television on 11 December 2006.
Iran called on the international community to unite in curbing the threats posed by the weapons of mass destruction of the Israeli regime and in pursuing the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said.
Turning to the Iranian nuclear issue, he stressed, once again, that Iran’s nuclear programme was “completely peaceful”. All of the reports by the IAEA since 2003 had confirmed the peaceful nature of the programme. Nevertheless, the Security Council had taken “unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable actions” against the nuclear programme in Iran, which presented no threat to international peace and security, and fell outside the Council’s Charter-based mandate. The resolution adopted by the Council had been derived –- not from any so-called proliferation concerns –- but from ulterior motives and narrow national considerations, aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights.
He recalled Iran’s recent new initiative when, during the negotiations between the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and the European Union High Representative, acting on behalf of the “Group of 5+1”, his country had agreed to negotiate with the IAEA on the modality of dealing with the few outstanding issues. In the course of a meeting with the IAEA Director General, it was agreed that, within 60 days, the modalities of dealing with those issues would be discussed and concluded. The final text of the mutual understanding was concluded on 21 August in Tehran, and called for all issues to be taken up in a “sequential and well-defined timeframe”, rather than dealing with them simultaneously and without prioritization.
In a very short period of time, two of the remaining issues — plutonium experiment and the contamination at the Karaj Facility — had been resolved, he noted. Additionally, the IAEA Director General had called the agreed modality a “significant step forward”. Indeed, Iran’s initiative had created a new positive environment and “opened a window of opportunity for the return of Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Agency’s framework in full”, Iran’s speaker said, adding that Iran was determined to exercise its inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
RUDRA KUMAR NEPAL, Under Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said that the international community had continued to be affected by the paradox of misplaced priorities. The world today spent huge amounts of money on armaments -– more than $1.2 trillion-– whereas only a fraction of that would go towards fighting poverty and correcting other imbalances in development in the developing countries, particularly the least developed countries. Every time there was a failure to make progress in disarmament, an opportunity was missed to divert much needed resources for development in the world’s poorer countries. The delay in reaping the disarmament dividend was also fuelling conflicts and entrenching gaps in meeting resources for more important concerns.
He said that, today, the world was perched atop a stockpile of an estimated 26,000 nuclear weapons. The danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems was further aggravating already fragile international peace and security. The risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists was haunting humanity each passing moment. The safest way of guaranteeing non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was their total elimination and complete assurance against their use or threat of use. As an interim measure, a universal and legally binding instrument giving security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States could help build confidence for total nuclear disarmament.
The rampant proliferation and indiscriminate use of conventional weapons, especially small arms and light weapons, was causing untold humanitarian suffering and was affecting millions of people in conflict zones worldwide, he went on. Nepal stressed the urgency to implement the small arms Programme of Action. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms was an effective way to promote confidence-building and transparency in armaments, and, as such, needed to be further expanded in scope and strengthened in application. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were positive steps towards promoting nuclear disarmament. Nepal extended support to such regional treaties and initiatives, including the nuclear-weapon-free zone status of Mongolia and the establishment of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria), aligning himself with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the greatest threat to human civilization were weapons of mass destruction, which were still being developed, produced, tested, deployed and exploded. In order to end the nuclear threat, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Test-Ban Treaty must be universally applied. He called for the revitalization of the international disarmament agenda, and the convening of a fourth special session on disarmament.
He said Nigeria would continue to support article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which guaranteed to States parties the inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful and development purposes. On nuclear-weapon-free zones, Nigeria was committed to the Pelindaba Treaty and called on all interested parties to take steps to expedite its entry into force. Small arms and light weapons were “massive killers” of the people in his country, hampering peacebuilding efforts and stability. In that context, he expressed support for an arms trade treaty resolution. Landmines were another major problem, particularly in Africa, and the international community should assist in educating and training experts in mine-related accident prevention. In particular, he sought the establishment of a training centre in West Africa.
FORTUNA DIBACO ( Ethiopia) said that landmines continued to claim lives in every part of the globe. As her country was one of those heavily affected, it attached paramount importance to that issue. It had established the Ethiopian Mine Action Office in 2001 to deal with the issue, and, in 2004, it had ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention). It had also significantly expanded the country’s mine-clearance capacity. Currently, five technical survey teams were assessing the impact of landmines, in order to, among other things, identify mine-affected areas and warn local people of the presence of those weapons. Ethiopia believed that the Mine Ban Convention could be fully implemented with the stronger commitment of all concerned parties. A stronger mechanism was needed to achieve complete success, especially for mine clearance.
She said her country was also committed to the efforts to address the challenge of small arms and light weapons. It had made significant progress nationally in collecting more than 11,000 small arms, and a large portion of those had already been destroyed. Ethiopia also supported the process launched last year by the General Assembly towards the establishment of an arms trade treaty and had co-sponsored the resolution in that regard. The country would continue to lend its support towards the conclusion of that treaty, and remained committed to working together with other delegations in order to achieve that common goal.
Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, the representative of Iran said he wished to respond to yesterday’s “unsubstantiated allegations” from the “Zionist regime”, whose policies were based on occupation, State terror, violence and bloodshed. The remarks had no validity, and his delegation categorically rejected them.
The representative of the Russian Federation, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Georgian delegation had spoken yesterday about the Abkhazia conflict, but that matter should not be discussed in the First Committee, since the Security Council was considering the situation and had adopted a resolution on the issue.
Also commenting on the Georgian delegation’s discussion of the incident of 20 September, he said that, on that date, the Georgian Special Forces attacked a group of people from the Anti-Terrorist Centre. As a result, people died, including two military personnel who had been shot at close range.
He said he agreed with the need for regional security –- the Russian Federation was part of the peacekeeping operation, and had been for the past 13 years. In fact, 100 Russian peacekeepers had died in the course of the peacekeeping mission. It was necessary to respect ceasefire agreements, and he said that if the Moscow Agreement of 1994 was respected, there would be peace and security in the region.
Also speaking in the right of reply, the representative of Syria said that the delegation of Israel had spoken out of context yesterday. Israel had used lies and accusations, which was not useful since the entire world was aware of the objectives and practices of that “colonial” entity, which encouraged State terrorism and had never respected the resolutions adopted against it by the United Nations. There had been politically motivated acts by Israel against Syria, and, at the same time, Israel had tried to distract attention from its actions, in particular, its interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon.
Concerning the Lebanese border, he said that the Lebanese Minister of Defence had denied that anything had crossed the border, and those controlling the border had confirmed that. Syria had informed the Secretary-General of that in writing. Contacts between Lebanese and Syrian authorities had been ongoing to protect the border, and the countries had regularly reported to the Security Council on their meetings. Syria had also recently increased the number of guards on its border, preventing any transfer of weapons from Iraq or any other countries. In a letter dated 4 May, Syria had reported on that. It had also asked Europe for help in securing its border, but had not received any such assistance.
The accusations by Israel, therefore, were totally unjustified. Israel was an “enemy entity” occupying Syrian territory. Israel regularly filmed trucks carrying fruits and vegetables into the country, and had recently bombed one of them. Israel was building eight reactors in a small territory and preparing itself “in nuclear terms” for a possible war, with 20 nuclear warheads, using thousands of cluster bombs, and not providing maps to show where they were dropped or where the nuclear waste was being disposed of. It was an entity that claimed that Gaza was trying to occupy areas, when it was itself occupying territory.
Moreover, the entity that was the fourth largest exporter of lethal weapons in the world, that which violated the airspace of sovereign States and carried out military aggression against them, as had happened on 6 September against Syria, such an entity, with all those characteristics and more, had no right to go on lying without shame.
The representative of Egypt, also speaking in the right of reply, said he rejected the false allegations made by the Israeli Minister two days ago, and repeated by the delegation in the First Committee yesterday, that Egypt was transferring arms across the Sinai peninsula to the Gaza Strip. Egypt was fully committed to the letter and spirit of the peace treaty with Israel and was taking the maximum measures to prevent any smuggling across its borders, for the sake of Egypt’s and the region’s security.
He said it was regrettable that, while negotiations on border security continued, false allegations were still being made by the ministers and delegates in the First Committee. Instead of making such allegations, the delegates should have focused on the statements by Israel affirming its possession of nuclear weapons.
The representative of Georgia, speaking in the right of reply, said that the issue his delegation had raised yesterday was in fact crucial in the context of regional security, and it, therefore, needed to be addressed in the First Committee.
On the incident of 20 September, he said the shoot-out had taken place in Georgian territory. The group involved had been trained by two Russian officers, and a UNOMIG (United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia) report said it was still unclear how the two officers had died. He asked why two armed Russian officers were in Georgian territory in the first place. Georgia regretted that the Russians considered those saboteurs, who were part of a secessionist regime, to be an anti-terrorist group.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), aligning himself with the statements made by the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the existence of weapons of mass destruction posed the greatest danger to the survival of humanity. Zambia supported General Assembly resolution 61/62 calling on all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitment to multilateral cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. Urgent steps must be taken to achieve the goals of disarmament. Acknowledging that the General Assembly adopted many resolutions each year on the issue of disarmament, he said “in our case, the saying does not hold true that ‘the devil is in the details’. Our devil clearly lies in non-implementation and non-compliance.”
He said that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was an example of non-compliance, with the “nuclear club” growing and many countries on the verge of joining. The world of four decades ago was safer, since it was clear who had nuclear weapons. Today, “faceless, nameless non-State actors” had weapons of mass destruction, largely because of non-compliance and non-implementation of the commitments that States had undertaken when they joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Turning to small arms and light weapons, he said their uncontrolled access by non-State actors was a serious threat to the stability of nations, and he urged the international community to implement the 2001 Programme of Action. He also called for the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.
Noting that most of those who called for the special session were non-nuclear-weapon States and small states, he said that was not because those States feared military defeat at the hands of the nuclear Powers. Rather, it was because “all of us — the haves and the have-nots, are threatened by these weapons”, and there would be no survivors if a nuclear weapon was used. The big and powerful countries should stop and listen to the voices of the small, the voices of wisdom.
SAJA SATTAM HABES MAJALI (Jordan) stressed the need for the international community to work on strengthening the implementation of all weapons of mass destruction instruments and achieving their universalization. She called on all States that had not done so to sign or accede to them as soon as possible. Jordan welcomed the agreement on the agenda for the 2010 Review Conference of the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty during its first Preparatory Committee meeting held in Vienna.
She said that the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones remained vital to the maintaining of the international non-proliferation regime and consolidating international peace and security. That was especially true for the Middle East region, as had been acknowledged by the international community through numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the Non-Proliferation Treaty review outcomes on that issue and, more recently, the Secretary-General in his report to the Committee on the establishment of such a zone. She reiterated Jordan’s position that Israel should accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and implement international IAEA safety measures with regard to its “unsafeguarded” nuclear facilities. That would defuse existing tensions, bring about tangible progress on other bilateral tracks of the peace process, enhance confidence-building measures between all parties, have an overall positive impact on regional peace and security, and also prevent the occurrence of potential nuclear accidents and radiological contamination.
While the best way to prevent terrorists and non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction would be through the total elimination and destruction of such weapons, the adoption of the recent extension of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) had nevertheless made it possible to start addressing that threat, she said. Complete and effective implementation of that resolution required constant cooperation and coordination among Member States, including through exchange of information and the provision of technical support and technological assistance to those States that sought it. In September, Jordan had hosted the first regional workshop for Arab States on the implementation of the resolution. That workshop had provided an opportunity for experts in the region to interact with other experts on that important issue.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UnitedNations, said the IAEA was ever more important, as the use of nuclear power had expanded in various parts of the world. The Agency needed and deserved stronger support from the international community. Specifically, the world needed to be able to place confidence in the findings of the IAEA that no State party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty was abusing its right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses.
He said that diplomacy was a key tool for defusing crises concerning attempts by some countries to acquire nuclear weapons; “belligerence by anyone would only worsen a delicate situation and could inadvertently lead to conflagration with immense additional suffering on a humanity already overburdened with the ravages of war”.
The continued failure to successfully conclude negotiations on the elimination of nuclear weapons, and the plans to modernize existing nuclear arsenals, jeopardized the viability of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, adding that the nuclear-weapon States had a responsibility to lead the way to a nuclear-weapon-free world. Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were interlinked, and both were imperative for the full implementation of the Treaty.
Noting that preparations for the 2010 Review Conference had begun, he appealed to all parties to show “good faith” in order to advance negotiations. Further, the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and the start of negotiations on a verifiable ban on the production of fissile materials were “long overdue”. The lack of political will, rather than technical deficiency, was slowing down that process.
He said “the recognition of the values of morality would play an instrumental role in effecting political will”. Nuclear weapons contravened humanitarian law and were an “affront to our stewardship of the environment”. He called on all people of good faith to renew their determination to ensure that nuclear war would never again take place.
Moreover, the danger of nuclear devices ending up in the hands of terrorists was “real and present”, he said. Thus, the Holy See welcomed the recommendation of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission that the General Assembly convene a world summit on disarmament, non-proliferation and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, ideally in 2009. Work on chemical and biological weapons was also important, and the Committee must also take steps to counter the small arms and light weapons scourge.
In conflict-ridden countries, the illicit trade in those arms, their accumulation and illicit production hindered the peaceful settlement of disputes, aggravated tensions and prolonged conflicts, compromising peace and development, he said. Moreover, those weapons played a role in every conflict, and were often used in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. In that spirit, the Holy See last year had supported the resolution aimed at developing an arms trade treaty. Armed conflicts had also presented “irrefutable evidence” of the humanitarian disasters caused by cluster munitions, especially on the civilian population. The Holy See, therefore, called for negotiations, within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, towards a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions and, in the meantime, for a moratorium on their production, distribution and use.
FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA (Uganda), associating himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said his country was strongly committed to general and complete disarmament under the auspices of international management and control, in pursuit of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Multilateralism in the disarmament agenda was the only viable road map to a peaceful and secure future, free from nuclear weapons. The Non-Proliferation Treaty’s fundamental pillars -– disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy –- should be given equal and balanced treatment.
He said his country welcomed the strides made in preparation for the 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and was confident that it would be possible to build on the work of the initial preparations held in May. The relationship between disarmament and development could not be ignored. Uganda also supported the 2001 small arms Programme of Action, particularly given its experience with the Lord’s Resistance Army in the north and the so-called Allied Democratic Forces in the west. It would continue to play a leading role among the East Africa and Horn of Africa countries and on the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes region. He called on the international community and donors to devise appropriate mechanisms within the framework of international law to meet their part of “the bargain”.
AMMAR M. B. HIJAZI, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said that any serious international effort on disarmament should be directly relevant to international law instruments, including international humanitarian law. The only acceptable context was the standing legal obligation of Member States to respect and abide by international law. Irresponsible transfer of arms to States that were proven to act with utter disdain towards international law and to gravely violate the rights of other peoples should be at the heart of the Committee’s attention. Continued arming of rogue States was tantamount to an assault on the violated people’s rights and lives. That also exposed any statements professing respect for international law as a sham. Clearer and more decisive action was required, including an all-out ban by the international community against such transfer.
He said that combating and preventing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was another important goal, which the international community needed to address. Human suffering, whether caused by the weapons of regular or irregular forces, deserved attention and commitment. Small arms and light weapons were just as deadly when used by a regular army against a civilian population and in contravention of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. States armed and protected militias that resided unlawfully in occupied lands. That led to aggressions, which terrorized and harmed civilians. Such militias owned small arms that were State sanctioned and funded. Those weapons only fed the conflict and perpetuated the occupation, all of which needed to be addressed.
The international community must ensure that the Middle East was freed of weapons of mass destruction, he continued. However, achieving that must be through a comprehensive, rather than a selective, effort. The existing threat was heightened by the turning of a blind eye by some world Powers towards States that had spent decades stockpiling and developing non-conventional and nuclear weapons, while refusing to submit to international inspection. It was counterproductive to exert extraordinary efforts on singling out and pursuing a Member State on the basis of suspicion, as well as to prevent non-nuclear-weapon States from exercising their inalienable right to peaceful nuclear activity, while another neighbouring and hostile Member State, which had openly admitted to possessing and producing those unconventional weapons, remained immune from even inspection or oversight.
CRISTINA PELLANDINI, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), noting that 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Mine Ban Convention, said that despite the difficulty of reaching agreement in other arms-related fields, States had banned anti-personnel landmines, adopted a protocol assigning responsibilities for explosive remnants of war, and were about to develop new norms addressing cluster munitions. Such moves constituted an “important trend” in the field of international humanitarian law regulating weapons. Also, there seemed to be a growing public conviction against such weapons, and as a humanitarian organization, the Red Cross Committee welcomed that development. In that spirit, she urged all States to adhere to the Mine Ban Convention and the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War, which had proven to be an effective tool for reducing landmine casualties.
She said States parties to that Convention were expected to meet in November, at the Dead Sea in Jordan. In the lead-up to that meeting, the Red Cross Committee had hosted conferences for the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council and of the Maghreb, highlighting the problems of mines and explosive remnants of war. It had welcomed Kuwait and Iraq’s adherence to the Convention. As for the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War, it was important that clear guidelines be developed at the first meeting of States parties, to be held in November in Geneva, on how to record, retain and transmit the required information. It was also important to establish an operational framework to address the massive problem of existing explosive remnants of war.
Turning to the effects of cluster munitions on civilians, she welcomed the fact that virtually all major States that produced, used and exported such munitions now recognized their human costs. She urged States to commit themselves to developing an international treaty prohibiting inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions. Such a treaty should ensure that existing stocks were destroyed and provide for the clearance of existing “cluster munition contamination”. It should also contain provisions for helping victims. Meanwhile, the easy availability of small arms and light weapons was undermining the most fundamental civilian protection under international humanitarian law, with devastating impact on civilians in conflict and post-conflict societies. She urged States to implement the recommendations of the United Nations expert group on arms brokering, while continuing to pursue the development of a legally binding instrument. They should also urgently seek to draw up an arms trade treaty.
* *** *
For information media • not an official record
FoxNews has reported the identity of the Syrian official as Bassam Darwish and noted that based on witnesses to the statement, confirm that the statement was almost word for word, again funny how the UN public document exclused the reference to a strike on a nuclear facility.
DAMASCUS, Syria — A high-ranking Syrian official confirmed that Israel’s airstrike last month in northern Syria hit a nuclear facility, according to a document obtained Wednesday by FOX News.
“Israel was the fourth-largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations’ airspace, and it had taken action against nuclear facilities, including the 6 July attack in Syria,” Syrian representative Bassam Darwish is quoted in the document as saying.
Diplomats familiar with the document cannot explain why July 6 was invoked, instead of Sept. 6, the date both countries say an incident occurred. A State Department source tells FOX News the best explanation is that Darwish misspoke.
The document, released by the General Assembly’s Department of Public Information, recounted Tuesday’s proceedings at the annual gathering of the U.N.’s Disarmament and International Security Committee.
What is clear is that this is the first time Syria has acknowledged its nuclear efforts.
One U.S. delegate told colleagues he could not believe his ears when the Syrian diplomat made his statement and that the resulting document was close to verbatim, and another source told FOX News the document reinforces what people heard [the Syrian representative] say in the actual debate.
Syria already has disowned the remarks, adding “such facilities do not exist in Syria.”
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quoting an unnamed Foreign Ministry source, said the U.N. press release misquoted the diplomat and that Syria had made it clear that there are no such facilities in Syria.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said earlier this month that the target is an “unused military building.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.