Judging by the applause that greeted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the end of his speech to Day One of the NPT Review Conference, the next month will be hard going for the United States and the other Nuclear Weapons States.
Iran is not isolated, at least not by this audience —that is by those who remained once the United States and most of the European Union had walked out in protest against his full-on attack on the Nuclear Weapons States. In fact many of President Ahmadinejad’s talking points showed up in the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, delivered by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa.
The NAM made it clear that the U.S. and Russian signatures on New START were not enough to demonstrate that the Nuclear Weapons States are carrying out their Treaty commitments on disarmament. Whether the Obama Administration’s release of the previously secret details of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (a total 5,113 warheads) will be sufficient to lift the skepticism of the NAM states remains to be seen.
So the cards are now on the table. The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, directly addressed the issue of Iran’s non-compliance with the NPT, appearing before the Review Conference in the afternoon.
The West’s attempts to isolate Iran will clearly be a major issue at the conference. Linked to this is the proposal for a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone, which was supported by most speakers on Day One of the Review Conference, including Hillary Clinton and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The challenge for the delegations will be to find a balanced solution on all three pillars of the NPT —disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Anne Penketh is currently attending the NPT RevCon in New York.