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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Briefing 2, May 11, 1999

1999 NPT PrepCom: Briefing No 2 Non-governmental Views

Organisation for 2000

The third NPT PrepCom began its second day by agreeing to designateAmbassador Jacob Selebi of South Africa as President of the 2000 review conference and beginning to solve some of the sticky procedural questions that stymied the 1998 PrepCom. In particular, they agreed to amend rule 34 to permit establishment of "subsidiary bodies so as to provide for a focussed consideration of specific issues relevant to the Treaty", as specified in paragraph 6 of decision 1 on strengthening the review process for the Treaty, adopted in 1995. The rules of procedure for the 2000 Conference have not yet been adopted because of disagreement over a proposal from

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Austria to accord the CTBT Organisation the same rights under rule 44 as the United Nations and IAEA. Austria based its argument on the fact that the CTBT was a principal objective identified in the programme of action on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the 1995 Principles and Objectives.

The PrepCom also adopted the proposed agenda for the 2000 Conference, after noting concerns raised by Canada regarding the relevance of the present system of allocating issues to three clusters, as exemplified in the Main Committees on disarmament, safeguards and energy. Reiterating its support for a more straightforward review conducted article by article, an argument raised by others as well in Monday's general discussion, Canada proposed that this important question be discussed and decided upon in 2000, rather than at this PrepCom. Other procedural decision requiring further consultations with specific delegations, such as background documentation, have been remitted to a later date for decision.

NGO Presentations to the PrepCom

Most of the day was taken up with presentations from non-governmental organisations, followed by an informal roundtable. Thirteen statements had been co-ordinated and drafted with the involvement of a large number of NGOs, and with the intention of expressing a broad and representative range of views.

NPT Compliance

The opening presenter expressed concern that "the NPT is not in good health" and that "a clear diagnosis of the problem is needed if it is to be saved". He went on to call on states parties to "launch an historic compliance assessment review" to be completed by the end of 1999 so that the 2000 Review Conference could take "serious steps to remedy problems that the compliance assessment might identify".

US-Russian Relations

The second speaker emphasised that "the process of nuclear weapon reductions has been hopelessly deadlocked" at a time when "nuclear dangers" continue to grow. He called on the US administration to "supplement the traditional arms control process by pursuing immediate, parallel, reciprocal, and verifiable initiatives with Russia". The presentation made detailed proposals: to reduce nuclear forces to levels far below those envisioned in START III; to take the majority of US and Russian forces off hair-trigger alert; and to secure, monitor and greatly reduce fissile materials and warhead stockpiles. Delegates to the PrepCom were urged to "create a list of constructive and politically solid recommendations for the 2000 review conference".


Next to be addressed was the role of nuclear weapons in NATO's recently adopted Strategic Concept and the continuation of nuclear sharing within NATO. The statement strongly supported the position of the German and Canadian Foreign Ministries that the Alliance's forthcoming consideration of options for "confidence building measures, verification, non-proliferation and arms control and disarmament" should include a "full review of NATO's nuclear doctrine". The NGOs were also "encouraged" by the vote on the New Agenda Resolution in last year's UN General Assembly and called on members of NATO to "make sure" that the Alliance "seriously considers the proposals made in the resolution".

Regional Proliferation

Four areas were highlighted in the fourth NGO presentation: South Asia; the Middle East; North Korea and Belarus. Exactly one year after India conducted its nuclear tests and following the recent missile tests, the NGOs called for India and Pakistan to "stop the missile race" and for the two countries to "formalise their existing moratoria on nuclear tests" and "sign the CTBT at the earliest possible date". NGOs also requested that the international community "help stop the repression of those opposed to the tests and similar developments in the two countries". On the nuclear question in the Middle East, concern was expressed that "paralysis of the peace process and the vetoing of any course of engagement or cooperation with Iraq" only compound the problem. Whilst on the subject of North Korea "the immediate implementation of the 1994 KEDO agreement" was emphasised. These problems, along with indications of renewed interest in nuclear weapons from Belarus, had all made the task of nuclear disarmament "more urgent than ever".


Focussing on ratification and entry into force of the CTBT, this presentation urged delegates of non-ratifying nations to ratify this treaty with the goal of safeguarding their own national security and the purpose of "isolating those that have not ratified". The presenter also asked each of the governments represented and the NPT PrepCom as a whole "to express support for a Ministerial-level Special Conference on CTBT entry into force this fall". On the subject of "Stockpile Stewardship" activities, the statement emphasised the importance of nuclear weapon states refraining from activities that "could be confused with underground nuclear tests".

Nuclear Laboratory Testing

Continuing on the theme of stockpile stewardship, this presentation highlighted the role of the French PALEN programme and the US National Ignition Facility. It proposed that "international observers be given free access to facilities and programmes (in the framework of the IAEA), in order to check the stated goals of minimum maintenance of existing stockpiles, and to set up transparency and confidence building measures". In addition, the presenter called on the nuclear powers to "announce a moratorium on laboratory nuclear experiments".

Nuclear Energy

Opening with a call for the assumptions about nuclear energy made in 1945 and in 1968 to be "re-evaluated in a world that has experienced Chernobyl and Three Mile Island", the presentation on nuclear energy addressed four areas: economics, proliferation, releases of radiation and waste. Many NGOs believe that it is "inappropriate to define an activity that is limited to one or two generations in benefit, but results in a liability that will persist for thousands of human generations to come, as an 'inalienable right'". Article IV was the "fault line along which the non-proliferation function of the Non-Proliferation Treaty cracks. It normalises and legitimises an industry which is economic insanity, environmental suicide, is mutagenic and cancerous".

Indigenous Peoples, Environmental and Human Health

Presented by a representative of Indigenous people of the Pacific, this statement opened with a prayer "that we touch the Earth with kind and gentle hands". It highlighted the "catastrophic consequences both for the environment as well as human health" that have been generated by the Nuclear Age. The speaker urged "local, national, regional and international bodies to own up to the problems created by nuclear weapons and fuel production and begin a healing process that is overdue". He asked NPT states parties to ensure that such a process was begun.

Paths to Elimination

In the context of the millennium bug, arguments were made that look at "qualitative disarmament measures and policies that reduce risks and set the stage for abolition", including strengthened security assurances and dealerting of nuclear forces. The presenter called for all countries, but particularly the United States and Russia to "reduce the likelihood of accident, mistake, or miscalculation, by taking nuclear weapons off alert".

Multilateral Instruments and Forums

Urging the creation of "a forum or forums that explicitly have under consideration the institutional framework for a nuclear weapon free world and how to achieve it", this presentation underscored that "every action, negotiation, instrument and forum should be measured by whether it contributes to the achievement of 'nuclear disarmament in all its aspects'".

General and Complete Disarmament

Highlighting the background of "war in Europe, Africa and South Asia and bombing in the Middle East", the presenter acknowledged that to talk about general and complete disarmament might seem to be "grasping at dreams", but stressed that "these problems cry out for solutions". Emphasising that the "need for comprehensive disarmament must never be allowed to be an excuse for failing to accomplish nuclear disarmament", she said that "it is also true that there can and should be a dynamic interaction between the two endeavours".

Nuclear Weapons, Ethics and Law

After addressing the ethical, moral and legal framework for nuclear disarmament, a simple solution was put forward: "States should treat others as they wish to be treated in return". It called for a "new level of co-operation" to fulfil the "integrated human security agendas that emerged from the world summits of the 1990s". Drawing attention to the "awesome destructive power" of nuclear weapons and the magnitude of their cost, the presenter concluded that nuclear disarmament was "nothing less than an ultimate moral imperative".

In summation.

NGOs expressed their desire to have a "constructive as well as critical involvement in the Non-Proliferation Treaty process". The presentations had highlighted the "many possible paths to the global elimination of nuclear weapons" and delegates to the PrepCom were urged to: "take the steps which will provide the fastest possible path" to a "multilateral, verifiable and enforceable Nuclear Weapons Convention".

Written by Nicola Butler with assistance from Rebecca Johnson.