Russia rejects German proposal on tactical nuclear weapons

Day 13: Russia has rejected a proposal from Germany to include a call for the “irreversible reduction and elimination” of US and Russian tactical weapons in a draft action plan of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Treaty Conference.

The exchange took place during a closed-door session which was discussing the disarmament pillar of the NPT.

Russia flatly opposed the suggestion which came during discussions of a draft call for the five nuclear weapon states to undertake further efforts to achieve reductions of all types of nuclear weapons, according to diplomats. Germany was backed by Slovenia and Poland which agreed to this language in a paper last week endorsed by a total 10 European Union states. European Union draft language calls on all NPT states parties possessing tactical nuclear weapons “to include them in their general arms control and disarmament processes, with a view to their verifiable and irreversible reduction and elimination.”

In open session on Day 13 of the Review Conference, much of the debate focused on non nuclear weapons states’ call for a timeline for nuclear disarmament. Several delegates mentioned that the NPT was 40 years old and that their countries did not wish to wait another 40 before the nuclear weapons states – Britain, the US, France, Russia and China – had complied with their treaty commitment to disarm in line with Article VI of the NPT. The Philippines delegate appealed to the nuclear weapons states saying, “our people expect something, our people expect hope.”

The committee chair is reviewing all requested amendments, including a document from the Non-Aligned Movement, whose draft states that “the conference agrees on the need to implement article VI within a timebound framework”, and hopes to produce a new document on Thursday, Day 14 of the conference.

The other noteworthy event of the day was when the UK delegation broke its enforced silence owing to the change in government, and Ambassador John Duncan reviewed progress since the Review Conference of 2000 (the 2005 conference having failed to produce a final document). There was a full house at the plenary committee on non-proliferation to hear his words.

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

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