Lines Drawn at NPT Review Conference

Day 10: The scene has been set for the negotiations at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference following the release of the draft documents from the main committees which summarise discussions of the past two weeks and lay down an action plan for the future.

The following areas are some of those which will be hotly debated in the final two weeks of the Review Conference:

A disarmament treaty

The nuclear weapons states remain opposed to a convention for nuclear disarmament with a specific deadline, but there has been a groundswell of support for this from non nuclear weapons states. In particular the draft action plan calls for the UN secretary-general to convene an international conference in 2014 “to consider ways and means to agree on a roadmap for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe, including by means of a universal, legal instruction.”

The draft disarmament action plan wants consultations among the nuclear weapons states “no later than 2011” on a range of issues, and for them to report back to the NPT states parties the following year. These would include the US nuclear umbrella, with the draft referring to “the question of weapons stationed on the territories of non-nuclear weapons states.”

It seeks a commitment from nuclear weapons states that they will “cease the development of new nuclear weapons and the qualitative improvement of existing nuclear weapons systems that support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.” The draft action plan also calls for concrete measures on the de-alerting of nuclear weapons, as proposed by New Zealand and four other countries.

Security Assurances

Again, the nuclear weapons states are opposed to legally binding security assurances to the non-nuclear weapons states, as sought by the Non-Aligned Movement. The draft action plan calls for work to begin immediately at the Conference for Disarmament in Geneva on all aspects of this issue, “not excluding an internationally legally-binding instrument.”

Middle East nuclear weapons free zone

This is the hardest nut to crack and remains at the top of the conference agenda; however discussions involving the nuclear weapons states, Egypt and the rest of the Arab Group are continuing outside the main committees. The draft documents hold a place for the conclusion of those negotiations.

Toughened nuclear inspection regime: the Additional Protocols

The nuclear weapons states and allies want to see the Additional Protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency in use as a universal standard, in order to reinforce assurances that peaceful nuclear energy programmes are not being diverted for military purposes. However the Non-Aligned Movement wishes the protocols to remain voluntary. The NAM also makes the point that non nuclear weapons states should not be asked to take on additional restrictions when the nuclear weapons states have not done enough to disarm. The draft encourages all states parties “to conclude additional protocols and to bring them into force as soon as possible, and to implement them provisionally pending their entry into force.”

Withdrawal from the NPT

The nuclear weapons states and allies want to ensure that withdrawing from the NPT entails consequences. The draft points out that “under international law a withdrawing party is still liable for breaches of the Treaty that occurred prior to withdrawal”, and reaffirms the role of the UN Security Council. The draft on this aspect however, is not yet complete.

Anne Penketh is currently attending the NPT RevCon in New York.

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard