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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Review Conference, April 26, 2000

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

Briefing from the Acronym Institute - April 26 2000
2000 NPT Briefing # 3

The Nuclear Weapon States

By Rebecca Johnson, The Acronym Institute

Continuing with its General Debate, the NPT Review Conference on Tuesday heard statements

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2000 NPT Index

from 20 delegations: Belgium, Australia, Brazil, Lithuania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, France, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Egypt, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Libya, and Switzerland. In addition, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Wolfgang Hoffmann, addressed the Conference. It was agreed that Ambassador Chris Westdal would chair Subsidiary Body 2 on regional issues and the Middle East.

In general, the second day's statements raised many of the same issues as on Monday: welcoming Russia's ratification of START II and the CTBT; disappointment about inadequate progress in nuclear disarmament and concerns that nuclear weapons were being reinforced innational security doctrines; concern about how the non-proliferation regime should address the overt nuclearisation of South Asia; the CTBT; CD paralysis and the fissban/cut-off treaty; and US missile defence plans and the ABM Treaty. In addition, there was more focus on regional issues and nuclear weapon free zones, especially the Middle East, and concerns about Israel's nuclear programme, which will be addressed in future briefings.

Briefing # 3 focusses on the weapon states. They tended to agree on the importance of the CTBT, and on regional concerns, especially in the wake of India and Pakistan's tests. They endorsed the view expressed by the United States that there was no provision in the Treaty for new nuclear weapon states" as that would "break faith" with those who had joined the NPT as NNWS. They gave support to the IAEA's strengthened safeguards and seemed enthusiastically to endorse "peaceful nuclear cooperation" under the Treaty, which China described as "a clean and highly efficient energy with tremendous potentials". The sharpest divisions were, predictably, over missile defence and US pressure to amend the ABM Treaty. The US argued that times had changed, while Russia, China and France expressed strong opposition to any move that would weaken the ABM Treaty. Despite considerable concern in London, Britain was publicly prepared only to acknowledge "the complex and difficult issues". Though attempts to negotiate a P-5 statement are ongoing, it appears that resolving the differences over missile defence, the ABM Treaty, and China's related position on the fissban would require common-denominator language so low as to be almost meaningless.

United States By the time US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke on Monday, US missile defence plans had already been criticised by several delegations, and even the UN Secretary-General had raised concerns that the pressure to deploy national missile defences was jeopardising the ABM Treaty. Describing the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 as "a priceless gift for our children -- and ourselves", Albright said that the Treaty "has transformed acquiring a nuclear weapon capability from an act of national pride to a cause for international alarm". The Secretary of State openly acknowledged that "the sharpest suspicions under the Treaty are directed to whether the five nuclear weapon states are doing enough under Article VI to bring about nuclear disarmament" and stressed that "we share the frustration many feel about the pace of progress toward a world free on nuclear weapons". Addressing "broader concerns raised by missile defences", Albright defended the Clinton Administration from accusations of "sabotaging the ABM Treaty and strategic arms control". She argued that the world had changed since the Treaty was signed, that it had already been amended once "and there is no good reason it cannot be amended again to reflect new threats from third countries outside the strategic deterrence regime".

Presenting a comprehensive booklet setting out the nuclear and disarmament-related steps undertaken by the United States over the past decade, she quoted President Clinton saying "the United States has devoted more time, effort, and resources to nuclear arms control and disarmament than any other country". Albright welcomed Russia's recent steps in ratifying START II and the CTBT and also stressed US support for the test ban treaty notwithstanding the Senate defeat in October 1999. In particular, she stressed the Administration's firm commitment not to resume testing and continued support for the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, assuring the Conference "...like the President, I am convinced that America will ratify the CTBT". The US statement concluded with a warning that "if countries demand unrealistic and premature measures, they will harm the NPT and set back everyone's cause".

China Ambassador Sha Zukang reiterated China's policy with regard to support for ridding the world of nuclear weapons and its call for the other weapon states to join China in promising not to use nuclear weapons first, and said that CTBT ratification was being considered by the National People's Congress. While asserting that the nuclear weapon states "must faithfully implement their obligations for nuclear disarmament", Sha identified two preconditions for Beijing's participation in arms control negotiations: that they did not compromise global strategic balance and stability or undermine China's national security interests. As the NNWS have increased their demands for more information about nuclear weapon and fissile material holdings, China has felt it necessary to justify its reluctance. Sha explained China's position with reference to "a superpower which rampantly intervenes in other countries' internal affairs, and wilfully resorts to force, continuously improving its overwhelming first-strike nuclear capability". Under such circumstances, he said, "it is neither conducive to their own security nor in the interests of global strategic balance and stability to ask the small or medium sized nuclear countries to take transparency measures".

Much of Sha's statement focussed on US missile defence plans. He quoted President Jiang Zemin that such programmes "will inevitably exert an extensive negative impact on international security and stability and trigger off a new round of arms race in new areas..." Responding to criticisms that China was blocking CD attempts to get fissban negotiations underway, Sha countered that "the prevention of the weaponisation of outer space is a task even more urgent than the FMCT negotiations".

Britain Britain's statement, entitled "Towards a nuclear-free world" was delivered by Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain MP. He endorsed the EU statement and said that the Labour government had made an unequivocal commitment to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and "transformed Britain's role". Arguing that Labour was "driving the agenda forward", Hain reiterated UK policy that "when we are satisfied with progress towards our goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons, we will ensure that British nuclear weapons are included in negotiations". He enumerated UK achievements, including: early ratification of the CTBT; a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for weapons and support for FMCT negotiations; withdrawal and dismantlement of all air-delivered nuclear weapons, leaving just one remaining submarine-based system (Trident), with reduced warheads, all of which have been de-targetted, single patrols, and a reduced state of readiness. Describing how Britain has led the way in providing greater transparency, Hain announced the publication of a UK study on verifying the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.

Russia Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov, opened with "heartfelt greetings" from President Vladimir Putin, underlining the importance he attached to the NPT Conference. Ivanov then referred to "new serious threats to international security and stability", including "local conflicts, international terrorism and militant separatism". He also castigated "attempts to build national stability at the expense of the interests of other states...[and] misappropriation of the right to use force" in violation of the UN Charter and international law, calling such actions "a direct invitation to a new arms race". Presenting also a longer, detailed "National Report on the Compliance by the Russian Federation with the Non-Proliferation Treaty", Ivanov enumerated the concrete reductions and confidence-building steps which Russia has undertaken in the past decade, and said that Moscow was prepared to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,500 warheads, providing that the United States would do the same. Such a "historic chance" would be missed, however, if the ABM Treaty were to be destroyed. In case anyone missed the point, Ivanov reiterated it in several ways, underlining that "compliance with the ABM Treaty in its present form without any modifications is a prerequisite for further negotiations on nuclear disarmament in accordance with Article VI" of the NPT. Ivanov then put forward Russia's March 2000 initiative to establish a global missile and missile technologies non-proliferation control system as a "real alternative" for addressing missile threats and missile proliferation.

France Describing French policy as one of "strict sufficiency", Ambassador Hubert de la Fortelle presented a detailed report of French efforts to comply with the NPT, including: early ratification of the CTBT and the closure of the Moruroa test site; cessation of fissile materials production and dismantlement of its military production facilities; the complete phasing out of land-based nuclear weapons (leaving submarine-based and airborne nuclear systems of which the delivery vehicles have been halved); a reduction in alert status; and commitment to security assurances, especially in the context of NWFZ. France also repeated its willingness to discuss issues relating to disarmament at the CD "subject to a mandate adopted by consensus", along the lines of the NATO-5 proposal. In a clear warning to the United States, de la Fortelle said that France was "anxious to avoid any challenges to the Treaty liable to bring about a breakdown of strategic equilibrium and to restart the arms race".

Briefing # 4 will consider the positions put forward by Indonesia on behalf of the NAM. As there will be no General Debate on Friday, the next briefings will be published on Monday, May 1, and will analyse more fully the proposals and positions put forward by non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty.

Written by Rebecca Johnson.

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