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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Prepcom Briefing 3, April 29, 1998

1998 NPT PrepCom: Briefing No 3 Non-Aligned Positions Set Out

The Chair of the Second NPT PrepCom, Ambassador Eugeniusz Wyzner, announced the likely time-table for the next two weeks. It has been decided to devote 9 sessions to debating issues under the three clusters based on the Main Committee divisions of nuclear disarmament, safeguards and nuclear energy, with three additional sessions specifically devoted to the fissban/FMCT, the Middle East and negative security assurances, as intended by the First PrepCom in 1997.

The continuing general debate was dominated on Tuesday by NPT Parties who belong to the Movement of Non-Aligned States (NAM) and included the publication of a NAM working paper,

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1998 NPT Index

introduced by Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia. Twelve delegations spoke: Australia, Mexico, Syrian Arab Republic, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Iran, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Not all papers were available and since the general debate will conclude on Wednesday, some of Tuesday's statements will be covered in the next briefing.

The NAM Working Paper

In an early move indicative of more effective coordination, the NAM tabled a comprehensive working paper and proposed that "recommendations which have been deliberated upon throughout [the] preparatory process should be forwarded to the Review Conference in 2000 for further refining, finalisation and adoption". The paper comprised 37 substantive paragraphs, related to the Articles of the Treaty.

Nuclear sharing

Under the section dealing with Article I of the NPT, in addition to castigating nuclear assistance which may contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the NAM for the first time unmistakably condemned the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of allies, such as in NATO, and called on the NWS to "refrain from, among themselves, with non-nuclear weapons States and with States not party to the Treaty, nuclear sharing for military purposes under any kind of security arrangements". This challenge was reinforced in the paragraph relating to Article II, which would require the corollary commitment by non-NWS to refrain from participation in nuclear sharing.

Safeguards and export controls

Under Article III, the NAM sought to called on all NWS and non-NPT Parties to place their nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards and backed the principle that full-scope safeguards were to be made a condition of new supply of nuclear-related material and equipment. Referring to export control arrangements such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the NAM reiterated their view that "unilaterally restricted measures which prevent peaceful nuclear development should be removed". However, where previously they had sought to have the IAEA accepted as the "sole" authority for NPT compliance, the statement reaffirmed the IAEA as "an essential element in guaranteeing compliance".

Five paragraphs were devoted to Article IV. In addition to reaffirming NPT Parties' "inalienable right" with regard to nuclear activities "for peaceful purposes", including preferential treatment for developing States in the Treaty, concerns were raised about the vulnerability of nuclear facilities to attack and the need for improved international regulations regarding the shipment of radioactive wastes and spent fuel.

CTBT

Article V's commitment to "peaceful nuclear explosions" was superseded by three paragraphs relating to the CTBT, which banned all nuclear explosions. There was a strong call to all States to sign and ratify the test ban treaty. To "build confidence [in] the full implementation of the Treaty", the NWS were enjoined to "comply with the letter and spirit of the CTBT", to provide "transparency on-site" and to "refrain from conducting all types of tests in conformity with the objectives of the CTBT" -- presumed to be a slightly fudged reference to sub-critical testing and other controversial programmes associated with the ongoing nuclear weapon programmes of at least some of the NWS.

Nuclear Disarmament Nine paragraphs were devoted to Article VI, representing an uneasy but challenging balance between ideal and pragmatic positions, designed to squeeze the NWS between a rock and a hard place. Thus the call for a nuclear disarmament committee in the CD gave some room to manoeuvre on its initial tasks, while continuing to aim towards "the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified framework of time, including a nuclear weapon convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, employment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination." Similarly the unanimous ICJ opinion which reinforced Article VI was cited in a context that would involve regular information exchange from the States Parties, but especially the NWS, on their efforts towards implementing their international legal obligations on nuclear disarmament.

Some observers drew hope from a positive call, without preconditions, for the CD to get going on negotiating "a treaty banning the production and stockpiling of fissile material for nuclear weapons..." and implying acceptance of the Shannon report as a basic mandate.

Security Assurances

The NAM also called for the PrepCom meetings to negotiate a legal instrument on security assurances "to be finally adopted by the 2000 NPT Review Conference as an annexed protocol to the NPT".

Middle East

Nuclear weapon free zones are supported, with particular mention of the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia, and to "consolidation of the status of the nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas". The final five paragraphs push for implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and for establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Efforts to isolate Israel and embarrass its key ally, the United States, are being intensively renewed, aided by the deteriorating political support for the present government and the fact that all states in the region except Israel have now acceded to the NPT.

Central Asia

Two statements focused particularly on the initiative by five countries to establish a NWFZ in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Calling for international and United Nations support for this initiative, Uzbekistan said that a Central Asian NWFZ would contribute towards international cooperation and universal nuclear disarmament. Moreover the process of multilateral diplomacy in building such a zone was also important: to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, to work out effective measures for environmental rehabilitation and to develop and reinforce regional security measures.

Kyrgyzstan also pledged its support for a Central Asian NWFZ and hoped that the PrepCom would take a positive attitude towards the initiative's progress. Kyrgyzstan also expressed its serious concern about the legacy of environmental damage from nuclear weapons production still being borne by countries such as theirs, long after the end of the Cold War, and called for assistance from governments and international organisations, especially the IAEA, in cleaning up the region and disposing of the radioactive contaminants.

Ukraine

Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up what would have been the world's third largest nuclear arsenal after the break-up of the Soviet Union, also drew attention to the problems caused by the Chernobyl disaster on its territory. Noting that the concept of a nuclear-free world was now on the international security agenda, Ukraine called for the NPT Parties to work towards achieving specific practical steps, including: practical measures to promote the universality of the Treaty; further reductions in nuclear arsenals; entry-into-force of the CTBT as soon as possible; immediate negotiations and early conclusion of a fissile materials cut-off; measures to combat nuclear terrorism; and the comprehensive implementation of NWFZ agreements and the establishment of new zones.

WRITTEN BY REBECCA JOHNSON, Acronym Institute