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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Review Conference, April 25, 2000

The 2000 Review Conference on the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(April 24-May 19, 2000)

Briefing from the Acronym Institute- April 25 2000
2000 NPT Briefing # 2

NPT Opens Smoothly

By Rebecca Johnson, The Acronym Institute

The Sixth NPT Review Conference got underway with a smooth handover from the Chair of the

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2000 NPT Index

third PrepCom, Ambassador Camilo Reyes of Colombia, to the President, Ambassador Abdallah Baali of Algeria, who was elected by acclamation. The Conference Secretary-General, Chairs of the various committees, and most of the 34 vice-presidents were likewise agreed; the rules of procedure and agenda were adopted; and there was agreement on the establishment of two subsidiary bodies -- on nuclear disarmament and regional issues, with reference to the Middle East.

In his opening address, Baali welcomed the nine new accessions to the NPT since 1995 and gave a brief overview of positive and negative developments. He drew particular attention to the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, the US Senate's refusal to ratify the CTBT, delayed progress on nuclear disarmament, the continued existence of over 30,000 nuclear weapons, the nuclear strategies of NATO and Russia, and US plans to deploy ballistic missile defences that would be incompatible with the ABM Treaty. But warning against "yielding to pessimism", Baali also spoke of positive developments, including unilateral nuclear reductions and greater transparency, developments on nuclear weapon free zones, the model additional IAEA protocol to increase the effectiveness of the safeguards regime, and the conclusion of the CTBT. Saying that "the outcome of this Conference will have a major impact on deciding the future course of the NPT and the nuclear non-proliferation regime for generations to come", and commending the role of civil society and NGOs, Baali called for differences to be bridged with a "determination to find a common agreement on realistic measures that could help us in advancing further towards the fullest realisation of the goals of the Treaty from now until the next review conference in 2005 and beyond".

After much behind-the-scenes negotiations with key states in the run-up to the Review Conference, Baali confirmed consensus agreement on the establishment of two subsidiary bodies, along the lines proposed during the PrepComs by South Africa and Egypt and taken up by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and others. One would be convened under Main Committee I on nuclear disarmament and chaired by Ambassador Clive Pearson of New Zealand. This body would meet for at least four sessions to "discuss and consider the practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to implement article VI of the NPT and paragraphs 3 and 4 (c) of the 1995 Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament". The second (for which the Chair was still to be decided) would be convened under Main Committee II (safeguards and NWFZ) and will "examine the regional issues, including with respect to the Middle East and implementation of the 1995 Middle East resolution". Both meetings would be open-ended and held in private (i.e. closed to non-parties).


President of the Sixth NPT Review Conference: Abdallah Baali (Algeria) Secretary-General: Hannelore Hoppe (Department for Disarmament Affairs) Chair of MC.I (nuclear disarmament): Camilo Reyes (Colombia) Chair of MC.II (safeguards and NWFZ): Adam Koberacki (Poland) Chair of MC.III (non-military uses of nuclear energy): Markku Reimaa (Finland) Drafting Committee: André Erdös (Hungary) Credentials Committee: Makmur Widodo (Indonesia)

UN Secretary-General

The United Nations Secretary-General and the Director General of the IAEA both addressed the opening of the Conference. The Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, reminded Conference participants that "the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, remains a major threat to peace" and that NPT Parties' challenge was to "embark on a process that will ensure the full implementation of all of the provisions of the treaty by all of the States Parties". Like Baali and many of the statements which followed, the Secretary-General made reference to some of the regime's challenges, such as the thousands of nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert, tactical nuclear forces, the "re-affirmation of nuclear doctrines", including retention of first use by some of the nuclear weapon states, and the "pressure to deploy national missile defences... jeopardising the ABM Treaty". He also expressed concern that "the established multilateral disarmament machinery has started to rust ...due... to the apparent lack of political will to use it". Considering that the most effective way to implement the Treaty and build on past progress would be "to embark on a results-based treaty review process focussing on specific benchmarks", Annan suggested the following benchmarks: entry into force of the CTBT; deep irreversible reductions in nuclear weapons stocks; consolidation of nuclear weapon free zones and negotiation of further NWFZ; binding security assurances; improvements in transparency of nuclear weapon arsenals and nuclear materials.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei spoke of the importance of safeguards and verification and summarised some of the problems, challenges and developments in the IAEA's work. In particular, he urged all states to conclude their Article III safeguards obligations and also to sign up to the additional protocol developed after the problems with Iraq and North Korea, as this would enhance the effectiveness of inspections and the enforcement of the NPT. ElBaradei also referred to "sluggish" progress on disarmament and the danger of unravelling the non-proliferation regime. He quoted the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and called for "comprehensive and in-depth dialogue among the weapon states on practical measures to gradually reduce the number of, and move away from dependence on, nuclear weapons for their defence strategies, and thus lead by example".

General Debate

Twelve delegations made national or group statements: Portugal on behalf of the European Union and others; Mexico on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition; Algeria; Ireland; South Africa; the United States; China; Germany; Japan; New Zealand; the United Kingdom; and Indonesia on behalf of the NAM. Given the difficulties of acquiring and summarising so many statements for our two-page daily brief, the Acronym Institute will instead try to give a picture each day of some major themes and groupings, with the aim of building up a coherent and fuller analysis over the course of the Conference. Therefore, the important statements from US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UK Minister Peter Hain MP, and Ambassador Sha Zukang of China will be considered together with Russia and France (scheduled to speak on Tuesday). Some of today's presentations, particularly the NAM statement and working paper, representing over 100 NPT parties, will likewise be analysed later in the week.

A number of common themes ran through many of the statements from the first day. They echoed the points made in the opening addresses of the President and the UN Secretary-General. There were references to the lack of universality of the Treaty and worries arising from the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, emphasised especially by European countries and Japan. Algeria's Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs, Abdelmajid Fasla, called for a NWFZ in the Middle East. New Zealand and Algeria both raised concerns about Israel's unsafeguarded nuclear programme. Several pointed to the continuing failure to resolve the compliance challenges from Iraq and North Korea and expressed disappointment at the slow uptake of IAEA full-scope and strengthened safeguards. While the NWS emphasised their own efforts, others were unhappy with the slow progress of START reductions and of nuclear disarmament in general, and castigated the reaffirmation of the central or continuing role of nuclear weapons in strategic concepts. Many also raised the destabilising impact of missile defence plans, while the UK, which referred to "complex and difficult issues", noted that missile proliferation also needed to be addressed.

The deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and consequent failure to negotiate the agreed ban on the production of fissile materials for weapons (fissban) was repeatedly highlighted. Ireland proposed that the time had come for the five NWS to negotiate and jointly submit a draft text for a cut-off treaty to the CD for further elaboration and adoption as a multilateral instrument, and that they should apply its core provisions pending entry into force. Germany insisted that the 1995 Shannon mandate "must not be called into question", but Algeria emphasised that the negotiations "need to provide for existing stocks to be placed under international controls".

On the positive side, many welcomed the conclusion of the CTBT by the target date of 1996 and the number of ratifications so far, with especial praise for Britain, France and last week's vote by the Russian Duma. Though there were several mentions of the US rejection of CTBT ratification, the Administration's continued commitment to the Treaty was welcomed. Among those who lamented the delayed entry into force of the CTBT, Japan spoke for many when it urged a continued moratorium on nuclear tests and concerted actions and high level missions to persuade the hold-outs to ratify. Most also welcomed Russia's recent ratification of START II and urged speedy bilateral agreement on START III and deeper reductions. Unilateral reductions by Britain and France and China's long-held position on no-first use were also welcomed, amidst calls for further steps to be undertaken.

The New Agenda Coalition was strongly represented. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Ms Rosario Green, made her statement on behalf of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden. Drawing on its 1999 UN GA resolution, which had been co-sponsored by over 60 states and supported by more than a hundred, the New Agenda Coalition emphasised the need for a new, definitive "unequivocal undertaking on the part of the five nuclear weapon states to the total elimination of their respective nuclear arsenals", together with agreements on interim steps. Calling for greater transparency and the "principle of irreversibility" to be applied to all disarmament measures, they proposed that the "outcome of any evaluation of nuclear policies and postures should result in the adoption of non-first-use strategies" and of non use with respect to NNWS. The NAC also called for: progress on de-alerting and arrangements for the separation of warheads from delivery vehicles; for the withdrawal and elimination of non-strategic nuclear weapons; and legally binding security assurances to NNWS parties to the NPT. Fearing that nuclear weapons could become "accepted currency", Mexico argued that the "priority pursuit of force reductions by the NWS must be parallelled by the conclusion of instruments necessary to guarantee the conditions of confidence required for a world without nuclear weapons". A nuclear weapon free world would require "an instrument or a series of instruments negotiated multilaterally" thereby ensuring a universal and non-discriminatory nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Strongly endorsing Mexico's statement, the Foreign Minister of Ireland, Brian Cowen T.D. added concerns about the continued deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons and new types of nuclear weapons being developed through sub-critical testing and computer simulation. To increase the effectiveness of the NPT, Ireland proposed building on the experiences of OPANAL by convening annual, general conferences of States Parties, with decision-making powers "such as we intended in 1995", which should be supported "by a small secretariat". Evoking South Africa's experience, which "clearly demonstrates that nuclear weapons are not [a] source of security [but] in fact sources of greater insecurity", Abdul Minty gave a detailed rationale for the New Agenda and NAM positions and reiterated a number of steps necessary for irreversible nuclear disarmament, confidence-building, and nuclear non-proliferation. New Zealand's Minister for Disarmament, Matt Robson, underlined that the indefinite extension of the NPT "was not a permit for indefinite possession of nuclear weapons" and called on the NWS to "take all nuclear forces -- including tactical forces -- off deployment, show transparency, and apply measures to ensure that progress towards disarmament is irreversible".

Written by Rebecca Johnson, with documents assistance from Jenni Rissanen and Nicola Butler.

The Acronym Institute 24, Colvestone Crescent, London E8 2LH, England. telephone (UK +44) (0) 20 7503 8857 fax (0) 20 7503 9153 website http://www.acronym.org.uk