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Statement from the South African Delegation on the Middle East

NEW YORK

Mr Chairperson

It will not be difficult for us to recall the problems which this Preparatory Committee faced at its 1998 Session on the issues surrounding the Middle East. In addition, the overall situation concerning the non-States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Treaty's universality remain extremely important issues for us to address. This is in fact exacerbated by the actions undertaken by two of the States who possess the capability to build nuclear weapons

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and who remain outside the NPT. In this instance I am of course referring to the actions of India and Pakistan and the nuclear test explosions which they conducted after the 1998 PrepCom had concluded.

Mr Chairperson,

During our consideration of this issue in 1998, my delegation cited the Resolution on the Middle East which was adapted at the 1999 Review and Extension Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in which it was recalled that "the proliferation of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction constituted a threat to international peace and security". The South African delegation also noted its concern over the continued existence of weapons of mass destruction programmes, and in particular the existence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, in this most sensitive of regions. We would today again reiterate our call upon Israel un-safeguarded nuclear facilities, to sign the NPT and to place those facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards without delay, as an integral step to reducing the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons, in the region.

In this context we would also call on all of the States of this strategically vital region without exception to become members and to comply fully with the obligations and requirements of the other international agreements addressing weapons of mass destruction, including the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), etc.

South Africa continues to be a firm supporter of the Middle East Peace Process, which seeks to find a comprehensive solution to the difficulties and dangers faced by the region and we look forward to an early resumption of that process, hopefully with renewed momentum. We have repeatedly stated both in the Middle East context and in others, that our own experience has shown the possession of nuclear weapons provide only an illusion of security. Indeed, with the destruction of our nuclear weapons capability came real security for ourselves and for the countries of our region. The NPT has provided us in Africa, and the international community as a whole, with greater security and I believe that the realisation which South Africa came to -- namely that security is provided by nuclear disarmament rather than by nuclear proliferation -- remains a telling one, particularly for the States outside the NPT, but also for the acknowledged Nuclear Weapon States.

Mr Chairperson,

I further wish to recall that at the 1998 session of the UN General Assembly, South Africa, together with its partners in the so-called New Agenda Coalition (NAC), submitted a resolution, which was widely co-sponsored and supported, entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world : The need for a new agenda", which is of direct relevance to this debate, and in which it states that the General Assembly:

"Calls upon those three States that are nuclear-weapons capable and that have not yet acceded to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to clearly and urgently reverse their pursuit of all nuclear weapons development or deployment and to refrain from any actions which would undermine regional and international peace and security and the efforts of the international community towards nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation".

The General Assembly also stressed in this resolution that the pursuit of, extension and establishment of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at, especially in regions of tension, such as thc Middle East and South Asia, represent a significant contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Mr Chairperson, I thank you.