Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Declared 'Highest Priority.' (First Committee on Disarmament and International Security Report Acted on by UN General Assembly)

UN Chronicle, Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Declared 'Highest Priority.' (First Committee on Disarmament and International Security Report Acted on by UN General Assembly)


Conclusion of a universal and multilaterally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty was a "task of the highest priority", the General Assembly declared on 12 December.

Acting on the recommendation of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), the Assembly, by resolution 50/65, called upon all States participating in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament--the world's sole multilateral disarmament body--particularly the nuclear-weapons States, to conclude such a treaty, so as to enable its signature by the outset of the Assembly's fifty-first session.

In strongly deploring "all current nuclear testing", the Assembly strongly urged (50/70 A) its "immediate cessation" and called (50/70 C) for the "determined pursuit by nuclear-weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goals of eliminating those weapons".

A total of 46 resolutions--22 without a vote--and three decisions had been approved by the First Committee, as it continued to review disarmament and international security matters in the post-cold-war era.

In noting with satisfaction (50/68) that in the Conference on Disarmament there was "no objection, in principle", to the idea of an international convention to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, the Assembly appealed for an "early agreement on a common approach and, in particular, on a common formula that could be included in an international instrument of a legally binding character".

First Committee Chairman Luvsangiin Erdenechuluun of Mongolia on 21 November declared that, amidst a "great emotional outcry" over nuclear non-proliferation issues and "other recent developments", the conclusion of a comprehensive test-ban treaty by 1996 had been "supported by an overwhelming majority of delegations", he stated.

Also, three nuclear-weapon States--France, the United Kingdom and the United States--had announced their intention to sign and ratify, early in 1996, additional protocols to the 1985 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga).

Nuclear-weapon-free zones

The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (the Pelindaba Treaty)--adopted at the June 1995 Addis Ababa summit session of the Organization of African Unity--was hailed (50/78) as an "event of historic significance in the efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons". At the same time, the Assembly recognized the "right of African countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in order to accelerate the economic and social development of their peoples".

Establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East (50/66) and in South Asia (50/67) was also urged. The Assembly, in welcoming the accession on 26 September 1995 of the United Arab Emirates to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), called upon (50/73) Israel and all other States in the region not yet party to the NPT "not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons", to renounce their possession and accede to the Treaty at the earliest possible date.

By another text (50/77), full adherence of Santa Lucia to the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) and the Treaty's ratification by Saint Kitts and Nevis on 18 April 1995 were noted with satisfaction.

Other nuclear-related resolutions dealt with: prevention of an arms race in outer space (50/69); the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties of the NPT (50/70 Q); bilateral nuclear arms negotiations and nuclear disarmament (50/70 I, N, P and R); amendment of the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (50/64); and convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons (50/71 E).

Nuclear and `micro-disarmament' addressed by Marrack Goulding

Two agreements--a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty and a treaty on the cut-off of fissile materials production--would "open the way to negotiations on further quantitative reductions in nuclear weapons", Marrack Goulding, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the First Committee on 16 October. …

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