Introduction to the Committee
The Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) or The United Nations General Assembly First Committee is one of the Six Main Committees at the General Assembly of the UN-GA, committed to deal with issues of International Security, Disarmament and any other threat to world peace.
DISEC was created because of the need to discuss peace and security issues among the member states, considering the destruction that had emerged out of WW1 and WW2. There are 193 member states in this Committee. Even though it is a very large committee, it is the most democratic committee since all member states have an equal vote and an equal say.
The resolutions passed by DISEC are non-binding and are advisory.
Introduction towards the agenda
Arms control aims to limit the number of weapons and to regulate their use by virtue of bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements. Disarmament, on the other hand, aims at the elimination of entire weapon system categories. The spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) poses a serious threat to international security.
Arms control and disarmament are linked with the implementation of concrete human rights and humanitarian law and a part of security policy.
Arms control agreements are supplemented by international export control cooperation, which has intensified in the recent years and which has become an increasingly relevant aspect of the fight against terrorism and human rights work.
Conventional Weapons encompass a wide range of equipment not limited to armored combat vehicles, combat helicopters, combat aircraft, warships, small arms and light weapons, landmines, cluster munitions, ammunition and artillery. Conventional weapons are the most common type of armament globally and historically the most commonly used in conflict. However, there is a significant lacking of global rules or binding measures regulating the trade of conventional arms. The United Nations Secretary-General has repeatedly voiced his concern about the lack of global norms on arms transfers. Several United Nations instruments, including the Register of Conventional Arms, have attempted to build confidence and minimize the risk of conflict by encouraging states to make the quantity and type of arms they transfer more transparent. The recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty seeks to prohibit irresponsible arms transfers and prevent the shipment of arms to conflict zones where they are likely to exacerbate violence and contribute to repressions and human rights abuses. Other international arms control instruments include:
Convention on prohibition or restrictions on the use of certain Conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects.
Convention on the prohibition of the use, hoard and transfer of Anti-Personnel mines and on their destruction.
Convention on cluster Ammunitions.
Statement of the Agenda:
The proliferation of weapons and rising military activism made it appear as though the world was engaged in another “cold war with a race for weapons. Redoubled efforts to take concrete steps forward in all disarmament processes were needed to build upon progress achieved with the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the major challenges we face as a global society. Given that public health is what we, as a society, do collectively to ensure the conditions in which people can be healthy, controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons—and ultimately abolishing them—must be a major global health priority.
The threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons has 3 major aspects:
The development of the capability for producing or acquiring nuclear weapons by countries that do not currently have nuclear weapons (horizontal proliferation).
The increase of weapon stockpiles by countries that currently have nuclear weapons, the improvement of technical sophistication or reliability of these weapons, and the development of new weapons, such as “mini-nukes” or battlefield nuclear weapons (vertical proliferation).
The acquisition of nuclear weapons or the materials and knowledge by individuals or non state entities, often termed “terrorists,” to produce nuclear weapons (another form of horizontal proliferation).
Another important component of the nuclear proliferation issue involves delivery mechanisms. In order to pose a nuclear threat, nations or other entities not only need these weapons but also need missiles or other methods for delivering them.
Controlling proliferation of nuclear weapons involves national governments, intergovernmental organizations, and nongovernmental (civil-society) organizations. Governments thus far have attempted to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons through bilateral and multilateral treaties. Intergovernmental bodies, such as the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the International Court of Justice (World Court), have also attempted to control proliferation. Nongovernmental organizations—including professional organizations, such as the Federation of American Scientists, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), and Physicians for Social Responsibility (IPPNW’s US affiliate)—have worked to control proliferation through education, information dissemination, and advocacy aimed at governments and governmental organizations.
Historical Evolution of Nuclear weapons
In 1939, Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard warned of developments in Nazi Germany and urged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to begin a research program on nuclear fission for military use. The Manhattan Project was established in 1941 to develop, produce, and test the first “atomic bombs,” and J. Robert Oppenheimer was appointed director. On July 16, 1945, the first “atomic bomb” was tested at Alamogordo, NM, and on August 6 and 9 of the same year, US military aircraft dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. These bombs, based on nuclear fission, each had an explosive power equivalent to about 20 000 tons (20 kilotons) of TNT. Together, they caused the immediate deaths of approximately 200 000 people and the subsequent deaths of thousands more from blast and thermal injuries, radiation sickness, and malignancies.
Despite opposition by Oppenheimer and other physicists, President Harry Truman ordered development work on bombs based on nuclear fusion—termed “thermonuclear weapons,” “hydrogen bombs,” or “H-bombs”—in 1951. The work was performed under the direction of Edward Teller, who had urged the development of a fusion weapon while working on the Manhattan Project. The first hydrogen bomb test took place in 1952 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The blast had an explosive power equivalent to 10 400 000 tons (10.4 megatons) of TNT—500 times greater than the power of each of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1953, the Soviet Union, which had exploded its first fission bomb in 1949, exploded its first fusion bomb. In 1961, the Soviet Union detonated a fusion bomb with a yield equivalent to 50 megatons of TNT—over 2000 times greater than the yield of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs and greater than the total destructive power of all the bombs and explosives used in World War II. The development of these weapons led to the initiation of a worldwide movement for nuclear disarmament.
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
The United States and the Soviet Union remained the only states were the only states with nuclear weapons until 1952, when the United States provided nuclear weapons to the United Kingdom. Other nations then began to acquire nuclear weapons: France, China, and, it is believed, Israel. South Africa initiated, but later terminated, a nuclear weapons program. India and Pakistan each conducted explosive tests of nuclear weapons in 1998. In 2003, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) unilaterally withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and expelled the international inspectors who had been monitoring its stockpile of fissile materials. Despite attempts by a 6-nation group to get North Korea to end its development of nuclear weapons, North Korea announced in 2006 that it had the capability to construct nuclear weapons and apparently tested one. In the same year, North Korea unsuccessfully tested several ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear war-heads, and the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that it suspend its missile program and banned all UN member states from
selling material or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction to North Korea, and
receiving missiles, banned weapons, or related technology from North Korea. North Korea immediately rejected the Security Council’s decision. In July 2007 North Korea agreed to permanent disabling of a nuclear reactor complex at Yongbyon.
In 2003, Iran, which is a member of the NPT, had begun to build a uranium-enrichment facility that could have the capability to produce uranium suitable for use in nuclear weapons. In mid-2006, a 6-nation group presented Iran with a set of proposals that called for a halt in uranium enrichment in return for economic and diplomatic incentives and warned that if Iran failed to respond, they would refer the case to the UN Security Council. Iran continues to insist that its enrichment plans are purely for civilian use. Although analysts believe Iran is still some years away from building nuclear weapons, there is concern that the United States may stage a military attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Several of the nations with nuclear weapons have worked to develop new types of nuclear weapons and to improve and maintain existing ones. The Bush administration is pursuing development of a range of new war-heads under the Reliable Replacement Warhead program and is implementing plans for a complete renewal of nuclear weapons complex infrastructure. The United States has proposed development of new nuclear weapons, such as small tactical nuclear weapons (“mini-nukes”), but Congress has blocked funding for these projects. The United Kingdom is planning to invest £1 billion to update its Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston (England) and to maintain its Trident warhead stockpile. The British Parliament may be asked to replace 1 or more of its 4 Trident submarines, each of which can carry 48-kiloton nuclear warheads. Russia has also announced plans to maintain or improve its nuclear arsenals, and Pakistan may be expanding its nuclear program.
Acquisitions by Individuals or Non-State Entities
Individuals or Non-State entities may attempt to acquire nuclear weapons or the materials and know-how to produce them. There is considerable dispute over the use of the term terrorism, which many believe should include actions intended to produce terror by nation-states (“state terrorism”) as well as by Non-State entities. But we will use the terms terrorism and terrorist, as they are commonly used, to refer only to Non-State entities. Concerns have been raised about the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by Non-State entities from nation-states that possess these weapons. The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, designed to lessen the possibility that nuclear weapons could be obtained from Russia, has been only partially successful. In addition, there is concern about the possibility that Non-State entities will obtain fissile materials and the technical capability for producing nuclear weapons, and about the possibility of those entities making so-called dirty bombs—explosive or incendiary weapons purposely contaminated with radioactive materials. Although dirty bombs are defined as radiological rather than nuclear weapons, they could nonetheless create widespread radioactive contamination and instill great fear in the general population.
Controlling the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Many of the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project urged that the ready-for-use atomic bombs be detonated as a dramatic demonstration on an uninhabited island rather than on Japanese cities. After the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, these physicists and others, through the Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, worked to prevent proliferation and to urge the destruction of existing stockpiles. Work to end nuclear proliferation by other civil-society organizations, including IPPNW ( International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons) and its affiliates in 60 countries, has been heightened through the production of further reports on the health and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons use.
Another concern is the possibility of the accidental firing of nuclear missiles in response to false warnings of a nuclear attack. There have been close calls, in which nuclear missiles—many of which are on hair-trigger alert—were being prepared for launch on the basis of faulty reports of incoming missiles.
Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
During the Cold War, both the United States and Soviet Union sought to deter each other from the use of nuclear weapons, through a policy known as mutual assured destruction (MAD). The first international agreement that attempted to control the testing of nuclear weapons, the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), was signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. It prohibited nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, in space, or underseas. The LTBT was initiated by President John F. Kennedy when evidence was presented of fallout of radioisotopes after each atmospheric nuclear test. In 1997, the National Cancer Institute published a study on the risk of the development of thyroid cancer from the iodine-131 fallout from the nearly 100 atmospheric nuclear bomb tests during the 1950s and the 1960s. It was estimated that 17 200 new cases of thyroid cancer would develop annually in the United States. Nuclear weapons tests have continued since the LTBT has been ratified and implemented; but tests have been conducted underground or by simulation.
Anti Ballistic Missile Systems Treaty
n 1972, the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) between the United States and Soviet Union was signed in Moscow. It was ratified by the US Senate and went into effect soon afterward. The United States and the Soviet Union signed a protocol to the treaty, which went into force in 1976, that reduced the number of ABM deployment areas from 2 to 1—deployed either around each party’s national capital area or at a deployment area of a single intercontinental ballistic missile. The Soviet Union deployed an ABM system around Moscow, but the United States elected not to deploy an ABM system. The United States withdrew from the treaty in 2002 in order to permit work on a national missile defense system, work that had been prohibited by the treaty. After the United States withdrew from the treaty, it announced plans to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system for missile defense in the Czech Republic. Then, Russia tested a new multiple-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile and a new cruise missile with a range of up to 500 kilometers. Although the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and other officials have called the treaty outdated, they have not said that Russia would opt out of it.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the NPT, was first signed. It obligates the 5 original nuclear-weapon states (the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China) not to transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non–nuclear-weapons state. Non–nuclear-weapons states that are parties to the NPT undertake an avoidance of acquisition or production of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices, in return for acquisition of nuclear technologies for peaceful activities, such as power generation, and for protection by the nuclear-weapon states. They are required also to accept safeguards to detect diversions of nuclear materials from peaceful activities to the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
The NPT went into effect in 1970. In 1992, China and France acceded to it. In 1996, Belarus joined Ukraine and Kazakhstan in removing and transferring to the Russian Federation the last of the remaining former Soviet nuclear weapons located within their territories, and each of these nations has become a party to the NPT, as a non–nuclear-weapon state.
The NPT is the most widely-accepted arms control agreement. Cuba, Israel, India, and Pakistan were the only major nations that were not parties to the NPT, until North Korea unilaterally withdrew—a withdrawal that was not recognized by the other 187 parties. India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons capability during the 1990s while remaining outside the NPT. Israel is said to retain a significant nuclear weapons capability also outside the NPT.
The Bush administration, in 2005, signed an agreement with India to provide assistance in the development of nuclear energy for civilian use. Some analysts contend that the agreement will undermine the NPT, which India has not joined, by providing benefits that are currently reserved for parties to the NPT. The US Congress approved the agreement in late 2006.
International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion:
Under the NPT, the nuclear-weapons states assumed an obligation to pursue negotiations for nuclear disarmament. In 1996, the International Court of Justice handed down an Advisory Opinion on the request made by the General Assembly of the United Nations and by the World Health Organization for an opinion on the legality of the use or threat of use by a state of nuclear weapons in armed conflict. In a split decision, the Court stated that “in view of the current state of International Law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be a stake.” But the Court ruled unanimously that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”