Day 12: Two dramatic interventions could influence the outcome of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference.
One was the presentation of the Non-Aligned Movement’s suggested wholesale amendments to the committee focusing on the non-proliferation pillar of the NPT.
The second -announced by Hillary Clinton during a hearing of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington – was the decision to submit to the UN Security Council a draft UN resolution containing additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
Although the Iran sanctions proposals do not fall under the NPT, Pugwash President Amb Jayantha Dhanapala told a side-event during the Review Conference that the tabling of the draft resolution – only a day after Brazil and Turkey struck a deal with Iran over a fuel swap – could be a “game changer” at the NPT. “It will create a lot of ferment within the conference,” he said. “The chances of consensus greatly diminish as a result of that.”
Why did the US decide to proceed without waiting to achieving its goals at the NPT Review Conference which winds up at the end of next week? The announcement that the US had reached agreement with Russia and China on a draft text took delegates at the Review Conference by surprise. Explanations by diplomats varied, with some saying that the Obama administration had to demonstrate that Iran remained its number one priority and that the fuel swap failed to adequately address the UN demands. Others suggested that the administration may have shot itself in the foot.
The 70 amendments tabled in the morning by Egypt, on behalf of the NAM, at the Main Committee II which is examining non-proliferation, were only distributed to delegates at 4 pm. But the US delegate who spoke in the afternoon warned that the NAM contribution risked removing “any pretext for a balanced review” by the committee. He said that the changes sought by the NAM would undermine prospects for strengthening the NPT, and urged the NAM to work with the US and other countries “by conducting a thorough and balanced review of the treaty” such as that provided by the chair.
The US delegate then proceeded to spell out 16 amendments to the chair’s draft document, which prompted a response by Egypt whose delegate noted the number of changes sought by the US, a single country. Had the 118 countries represented by the NAM acted accordingly, the Egyptian delegate said, it would have come up with 1,116 proposed amendments instead of 70.
The main NAM changes, as expected, concern Western proposals to strengthen the treaty by making the toughened inspection regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency the universal standard. References to these reinforced safeguards in the Additional Protocols in the chair’s draft were systematically amended or struck. The NAM repeatedly stressed that adherence to the Additional Protocol “is of a voluntary nature.”
The proposed amendments, which focused on compliance issues related to Iran, mentions the “double standards” of nuclear weapons states and attempts to “politicize” the IAEA. “The Conference notes the importance of addressing all compliance challenges to all provisions of the Treaty without discrimination and double standards,” the NAM document states.
The draft also refers to the controversial nuclear deal between the US and India a non member of the NPT – which has angered many non nuclear weapons states. It states “In order to take measures to strengthen non-proliferation, the Conference calls upon nuclear weapon states to refrain strictly from cooperating with non parties to the NPT and undertake not to transfer any nuclear material, equipment, information, knowledge, and technology to them.”
NAM delegates negotiated their draft text until midnight. The Egyptian delegate who presented the document stressed that the NAM countries hoped that a final document “that would satisfy all of us.”
Anne Penketh is currently attending the NPT RevCon in New York.