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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Statement by Ambassador Mounir Zahran before the Planery Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament - Geneva - 15 May 1997

DATE: Thursday, 15 May, 1997

Statment by H.E. Mounir Zahran Permanent Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations European Office in Geneva

 Before the Plenary Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament

 Geneva - 15 MAY 1997

(Translation - Original in Arabic)



Mr. President,

This is the first time I am taking the floor under your presidency. Allow me therefore to begin by expressing the congratulations of the Egyptian delegation on your assumption of the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament and our support of the consultations that you are carrying out with efficiency on the program of work of the conference. 

I would also like to express my delegation's gratitude to your predecessors, Ambassador Joun Yung SUN of Korea and Mr. Pavel GRECU of Romania, who guided the work of the Conference admirably throughout the first part of our session for 1997 and for the consultations they made during their presidency.


Mr. President, 

A few weeks ago, the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non - Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons held its first session in New York. The Chairman's Paper adopted at the end of this session reaffirmed "the commitment by the nuclear-weapon States to the determined pursuit of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons and the commitment by all states to the achievement of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." This conclusion is consistent with the relevant provisions of Decision No. 1 on ''Principles and objectives" of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.  

We all are conscious of the reality that the NPT is a key international instrument in stemming both vertical and horizontal proliferation. Hence, emphasizing one while marginalizing the other is unlikely to enhance the credibility of the said Treaty. I do not need to reiterate my government's commitment to the cause of non- proliferation and nuclear disarmament. lt is our view that the global non-proliferation regime represents a phased approach leading to the attainment of a world free from nuclear weapons. 

From this perspective and until the realization of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons which is the best assurance to humanity against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, we reiterate the commitment of the international community to the Universality of the Treaty with no exception. In addition, for the treaty to be credible we should all of us engage in serious negotiations on a multilateral instrument to provide non-nuclear states with security assurances and safeguards. We also deem it essential to strike a balance through the commitment of all countries to honor their obligations under that Treaty. Unless this is achieved, the non- proliferation regime would benefit some at the expense of others while excluding yet a third group. 

Following the adoption by the NPT Conference on II May 1995 of its decision on ''Principles and Objectives'', we expected that agreement could be reached in the Conference on Disarmament on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament. This committee would be entrusted with conducting negotiations on this issue to which we assign top priority. We particularly regret the view expressed during the first Part of the Conference by some nuclear weapon states that nuclear weapons are to be exclusively handled by those who 'officially' possess them. These views are in stark contradiction with what was decided at the 1995 NPT Conference, and raise questions about the true value that states seem to accord to the decisions taken during that Conference. 

If nuclear disarmament is to be the exclusive business of the five nuclear weapons states, what is to happen to those nuclear weapons that might be in the possession of other states not party to the NPT and hence under no legal obligation to dispose of them? By the same token we are concerned by the lack of implementation of Article VI of the NPT which stipulated when signed in 1968 that the cessation of nuclear arms races and nuclear disarmament will take place" at an early date ". Nearly 30 years after the signing of the NPT this has not yet been attained.  

We recognize the concrete efforts made by the United States and the Russian Federation, and their positive commitments in the field of nuclear disarmament. Yet we consider that only when the total elimination of nuclear weapons is achieved shall this issue be removed from the international disarmament agenda. To achieve this objective, much work needs to be done at the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on the issue. 

Owing to this conviction, Egypt has contributed to numerous proposals concerning the mechanism for negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament. Bearing this in mind, the delegation of Egypt has submitted to the Conference a working paper contained in document CD/1453 dated the First of April 1997 proposing a draft mandate for an Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament to be established in the Conference on Disarmament. This Committee is invited to conduct negotiations on a phased program of nuclear disarmament for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and on a convention on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices. This is because -within the framework of the Nuclear Disarmament Program inscribed in the decision on ''Principles and Objectives'' adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension conference- we have to deal with this subject matter as a disarmament measure.  

In discharging its function, the Ad Hoc Committee will take into account the Proposal for a Program of Action for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons submitted by 28 members of the Conference belonging to the Group of 21 (CD/1419 ) as well as any other existing proposals and future initiatives in this regard. 

Egypt is of the view that the proposed mandate presents a balanced text that does not in any way prejudice the views of any delegation. It is also hopeful that an agreement can be reached on this matter so as to enable the Conference to begin its long overdue work on this important issue. I would therefore like to ask you, Mr. President, to include this paper in the consultations that you are going to hold with the members of the Conference, together with any other paper or proposal for the CD Program of Work.


Mr. President 

I would now like to turn to our regional concerns in the Middle East, stressing once again the importance of the achievement of universal adherence to NPT. In this vein, we welcome the latest accessions to the treaty by the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Oman, which in fact brings all regional states in the Middle East within the scope of the Treaty with the exception of Israel which should adhere to it. Israel's refusal to accede to the NPT creates an imbalanced situation that seriously aggravates security concerns over the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. This refusal undermines efforts deployed at both the international and regional levels to establish confidence-building measures; in particular the establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle- East . And here I remind of President Mubarak's initiative on the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. For the speedy realization of this zone, all countries in the region - which have not done so- should simultaneously adhere to the NPT, CWC and BWC.  

The adoption by the 1995 NPT Conference of a resolution on the Middle East i.e. concerning a specific region is a clear expression by the states parties to the Treaty of their concern over the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East. This situation being the result of the existence in the region of ambiguous nuclear policies and unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, which constitutes a threat to the regional and international peace and security. Therefore, all parties to the Treaty, and in particular the nuclear-weapons states, have a responsibility to extend their cooperand are invited to exert their utmost efforts to achieve the full implementation of that resolution. The role of the depository states in shouldering their primary responsibilities as co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution on the Middle- East is crucial in implementing the said resolution. 

The delegation of Egypt to the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT submitted a paper on behalf of all Arab States parties to the Treaty contained in document NPT/CONF. 2000/PC. 1/5 .In this paper, it reiterates the urgent need to assess the situation in the Middle-East and to follow up on the implementation of the provisions of the resolution with a view to adopting recommendations by the Preparatory Committee pertaining to ways and means of ensuring its full implementation. Also, to ensure the engagement of all parties directly concerned in undertaking practical and urgent steps required for the establishment of a nuclear - weapons- free zone in the Middle East. According to the formal statement by the Chairman of the first session, Ambassador Patokallio, time will be allocated at the second session for discussing the resolution on the Middle East.

In conclusion, Egypt has presented a variety of proposals and taken positive steps aiming towards achieving a world free from nuclear weapons so as to realize security and stability for mankind. Our stance emanates from a steady and deep rooted conviction that peaceful coexistence, peace-making and peace-keeping are the only way forward for saving humanity and protecting fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life for the present and future generations, thus creating the necessary environment to devote all resources for the prosperity of our peoples, and in particular to mobilize all necessary resources for the economic and social development of developing countries.

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