Nuclear Testing, Small Arms Highlight Disarmament Agenda

Article excerpt

The General Assembly on 4 December, in expressing grave concern and strongly deploring recent nuclear tests in South Asia, noted that the countries concerned had declared moratoriums on further testing and expressed willingness to enter into legal commitments not to conduct any further nuclear tests. As it adopted a resolution on the subject - 1 of 49 texts (48 resolutions and 1 decision) recommended by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) - the Assembly also reiterated the need for such legal commitments to be expressed in legal form by signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In related action, convinced that nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons were essential to removing the danger of nuclear war, the Assembly called for a review of nuclear doctrines and, in that context, for immediate and urgent steps to reduce the risks of unintentional and accidental use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon States were called upon to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of their nuclear weapons, and stop immediately the qualitative improvement of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems and, as interim measures, to immediately de-alert and deactivate such weapons. In addition, all States were called upon to redouble their efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, confirming and strengthening their policies not to export equipment, materials or technology that could contribute to those weapons.

By some other related texts, the Assembly: appealed to all States, especially those with nuclear weapons, to work actively towards a legally-binding international instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; called upon States parties and signatories to all existing nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties to pursue the common goals envisaged and to promote the nuclear-weapon-free status of the southern hemisphere and adjacent areas; urged all parties directly concerned with the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East to consider seriously taking the practical and urgent steps required to establish such a zone; called upon all countries to support the initiative for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia; and urged the countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region that had not yet done so to ratify the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).

Taking up the issue of small arms, the Assembly: derided to convene an international conference on the illicit arms trade in all its aspects not later than 2001: asked the Secretary-General to hold broad-based consultations on the magnitude and scope of that phenomenon, on possible measures to combat it, including those suited to indigenous regional approaches, and on the role of the United Nations in collecting, sharing and disseminating information on the illicit trafficking in small arms; and encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to curb the illicit circulation of small arms and to collect such arms in the affected States that so requested. …