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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Prepcom Briefing 4, April 29, 1998

1998 NPT PrepCom: Briefing No 2 NGOs Address the Prepcom

Non-governmental organisations made 13 statements to delegations at an 'informal session' of the Second PrepCom, chaired by Ambassador Eugeniusz Wyzner. The statements were the result of a collective process undertaken during the past months to ensure the participation of many NGOs with diverse views, whether or not they would be able to be in Geneva during the PrepCom. In keeping with this spirit, I shall not highlight the individual names or affiliations of the speakers. My short summary cannot possibly do justice to the rich variety of information and ideas put forward, but the full statements are available at http://www.itu.ch/ipb/

Spiritual, Ethical and Humanitarian Appeal

The opening statement noted "the terrible suffering caused by nuclear weapons, their potential

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1998 NPT Index

for total destruction, and their perversion of the fundamental nature of matter". The NWS and their allies were urged to free themselves of their "self-imposed and self-destructive addiction" withthe help of "tough love" from the non-nuclear-weapon states, to help them "embark on a course of action that moves toward nuclear abolition." With regard to Article VI, and the ICJ unanimous ruling in July 1996, it was stressed that "good faith" meant "basic honesty...abiding by one's commitment".

Nuclear colonialism and environmental racism

A representative of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific spoke of how "modern technology has been used to perpetuate the historical devastation of Indigenous lands", and made specific reference to "the superpower nuclearisation of the region, nuclear testing, toxic dumping..." He demanded the "final cessation of these genocidal acts of nuclear colonialism" and called for NPT Parties to support and respect nuclear weapon free zone treaties and contribute to the environmental cleanup of the radioactive waste and contamination, emphasising the importance of ending the transhipment, storage and dumping of nuclear waste in the Pacific and the necessity for ongoing monitoring of contaminated areas and support for test site workers affected by nuclear testing. A number of subsequent statements reinforced this message with documented evidence of the terrible destruction wreaked on Indigenous Peoples and lands during the nuclear age.

 NATO nuclear weapons sharing

Concerns were raised about the continued siting of around 150-200 nuclear weapons in seven European countries as part of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In view of U.S. plans to transfer control over nuclear weapons to Allied countries and the involvement by additional States in nuclear planning, such arrangements contradicted "the intent and possibly the letter of Articles I and II of the NPT". NPT Parties were thus recommended to "explicitly and clearly state that the Treaty remains in force in time of war," building on the results of the 1985 Review Conference. In addition, to exclude any possible future development of European nuclear forces through integration of French and British nuclear weapons, EU members should declare that in the event of full political union, the EU would become a non-nuclear member to the NPT.

 Fissile materials

Two broadly different perspectives were identified: those who favoured getting a cut-off agreement underway as soon as possible, on the basis of the 1995 Shannon mandate; and those who considered that "without specific disarmament steps" by the NWS, a cut-off agreement would "simply reinforce existing disparities." Both approaches advocated additional steps, such as greater transparency and accurate accounting, as well as designating more plutonium and HEU as "excess", to be put under IAEA safeguards and irreversibly removed from future military re-use. The first sought ways to address stocks in parallel with the FMCT, whereas the second argued for specific disarmament steps to be undertaken together with a fissile materials ban, including the dismantlement of all military materials production facilities and a ban on the production of nuclear pits and tritium. The proliferation risks associated with the commercial use of fissile materials and various options for dealing with plutonium and HEU stocks to minimise the risks of proliferation and environmental contamination.

Health and Environmental Effects

Detailing the "extensive health and environmental damage" resulting from nuclear weapons production and testing, including human experiments conducted without informed consent, the statement emphasised that the effects were not confined to the NWS, but have had harmful effects worldwide. A "Global Truth Commission on the Health and Environmental Effects of Nuclear Weapons, Production and Testing" was proposed, either as a commission of the UN General Assembly, or under the joint auspices of the WHO and the UN Environmental Programme, with the task of documenting and evaluating the health and environmental effects and developing ways to assist the affected populations. Since "the mothers of the world are...often its first epidemiologists", the Commission should also invite the participation of citizens from around the world.

Nuclear Power and Sustainable Energy

In addressing the current status of nuclear power, the sixth statement identified trends and issues to enable NPT delegates and decision-makers to place nuclear power in the overall perspective of energy needs. In particular, the speaker noted that the "nuclear industry is in a period of stagnation worldwide and in actual decline in many countries" due to several factors including: its cost, diminishing political support, a failure to address safety, environmental and proliferation issues, and significant public opposition to nuclear technology in many countries. To meet the growing world-wide demand for energy, it was proposed that "contemporary Article IV" should be taken up, to "promote research, technology transfer and assistance in developing sustainable energy development, including energy efficiency...encourage strengthened forms of cooperation...[and] allow the energy aspirations of the developing world... to be met in a sustainable manner."

Immediate Steps on CTBT and START

The seventh statement focused on bringing the CTBT into force, implementing START II and achieving deeper reductions in nuclear arsenals. The fundamental importance of the CTBT as both a nuclear disarmament and a non-proliferation measure was stressed, all States were urged to sign and ratify the Treaty, and the NWS were reminded that "the CTBT does not give them a blank check to pursue the development and qualitative improvement of new types of nuclear weapons or modifications of existing weapons types..." In addition, it was proposed that NPT Parties urge Russia to ratify START II without further delay and encourage the United States and Russia to initiate negotiations on START III, with the aim of signing and ratifying it by the year 2000.

Anti-disarmament policies and programmes

The eighth statement raised concern about new weapons and facilities being developed by some of the NWS under the rubric of 'Stockpile Stewardship' and provided details on laboratory testing programmes and capabilities in some of the NWS, with particular emphasis on the United States. The statement called for: full disclosure and public debate on national policies regarding the threat and use of nuclear weapons; the renunciation of polcies of threatened first use or massive retaliation; elimination of laboratory testing capabilities; national policies to prohibit the design, development or production of new warheads or modifications for new military capabilities; negotiations leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Next Steps

Emphasising the importance of uniting the non-NNWS in order to "be a powerful irrefutable voice to which the NWS will be compelled to listen", this statement proposed the de-alerting of the current nuclear forces, by removing warheads from operational missiles and long-range warheads, reducing the number of warheads on submarines or cutting the nuclear submarines' patrols. Such measures could be accomplished in the near term, thereby contributing practically to the growing acceptance of the case for abolishing nuclear weapons. The statement further proposed that the final stage before complete nuclear disarmament should be one involving the immobilisation of the remaining (few) nuclear weapons of the declared and undeclared NWS. According to this, warheads and delivery systems would be separately stored under international monitoring. Such a measure would "protect the security interests of the NWS while eliminating all possibility of surprise attack or threats to use nuclear weapons".

Nuclear weapons convention

Describing the reasons for and basic provisions of the model nuclear weapons convention (UN doc A/C.1/52/7), it was proposed that NPT Parties should establish an intersessional working group on implementing Article VI, to consider how to bring about negotiations. It was stressed that now was the time to begin devising a plan for complete nuclear disarmament -- including verification mechanisms -- "to be ready when the political climate is favourable".

Regional Initiatives

Existing nuclear weapon free zone arrangements were strongly supported. Noting that these were primarily in the South, further NWFZs were advocated in the Northern Hemisphere, in areas such as Central Asia, Central Europe, the Balkans and the Adriatic, and especially in zones where nuclear weapons are currently deployed. International seas and oceans should be free from nuclear weapons. Zones free from all weapons of mass destruction were important, especially in the Middle East, and countries wishing to declare themselves nuclear free should be encouraged.

 Security beyond Nuclear Deterrence

Noting that "the security challenges we face now arise from threats to the earth's life-support systems", ranging from economic disparity and misuse of scarce resources to environmental degradation, overpopulation and climate change, it was clear that nuclear weapons were "a security problem, not a solution" and that we need "to shift the image of nuclear weapons from political virility symbol to the stigmatised status of chemical or biological weapons". Arguing that effective solutions will require "cooperation, imagination and vision", the statement concluded: "Cold War alliances have had their day; we must all be allies now if we are to avoid disaster."

 A Call to Action

The final statement summarised the main arguments and recommendations and urged fuller NGO participation in the Review Process. Supporting the 1997 Marshall Islands proposal for an inter-sessional working group to start work on preparing the ground for negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, the NGOs stressed the importance of immediate, intermediate measures such as taking nuclear weapons off alert and halting sub-critical nuclear tests and the modernisation of nuclear weapons, concluding "It is time to put away these deadly instruments of war, clean up the toxic legacy of the nuclear age, and use our precious resources to provide for the genuine needs of our human family on planet Earth."