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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Review Conference, April 28, 2000

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

Briefing from the Acronym Institute - April 28 2000
2000 NPT Briefing # 4

What Went Wrong?

By Rebecca Johnson, The Acronym Institute

As the General Debate kept going in the UN General Assembly hall, 17 more national statements

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2000 NPT Index

were heard on Wednesday and a further 21 on Thursday: from Luxembourg, South Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Maldives, Poland, Venezuela, Kuwait, Norway, Mongolia, Turkey, FYRO Macedonia, Indonesia, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Argentina, Austria, Holy See, Slovakia, Belarus, Thailand, Tunisia, Viet Nam, Hungary, Nigeria, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Tonga on behalf of the Group of South Pacific Countries (SOPAC), Swaziland, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Bolivia and Ghana. There was also a statement from the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC).

The Main Committees have also begun work. MC.I and II (on disarmament and safeguards) held their first meetings on Wednesday, followed by MC.III (nuclear energy) on Thursday and a further meeting of MC.I. The President of the Conference, Ambassador Abdallah Baali, has requested the Chairs of the Main Committees, Camilo Reyes, Adam Kobieracki and Markku Reimaa, to complete their work by the end of the third week (May 12). The two agreed subsidiary bodies, chaired by Clive Pearson and Christopher Westdal, will hold their first meetings next week, and are expected to conclude their formal sessions by May 10 and report back to their respective main committees.

The national statements continued to cover the themes identified in Briefing #2. The nuclear weapon states are reportedly close to agreement on a P-5 statement which would call for early entry into force of the CTBT, a CD programme of work including negotiations on a fissile materials 'cut-off' treaty, and the strengthening and preservation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Such agreement now appears possible, providing no-one inquires too closely into what the United States, Russia or China (or Britain and France, for that matter) envisage as a 'strengthened' ABM Treaty and a CD programme of work. During the first two days the European Union representatives were reportedly locked in furious disagreement over their MC.I statement, with France backing away from language accepted in 1999. Disagreements of approach among the so-called NATO-5 (Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Norway) have also emerged, as Germany pulls out of a joint statement, hoping to bridge the widening gap between France and the rest of the EU states.

After the very positive start, the mood seems flat. The general debate has been sparsely attended, and few statements go beyond the arguments put forward in the PrepCom meetings. There has been better media coverage than expected, in part due to the high level US and Russian participation, which has been followed by talks on START and the ABM Treaty in Washington. The group of over 110 non-aligned states parties (NAM), who had united behind a working paper presented on the first day by Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia (see below), found many and varied ways of expressing criticism for inadequate disarmament progress. Egypt and the Arab states highlighted the Middle East and criticised Israel for hanging on to its nuclear weapons. Belarus spoke strongly against NATO expansion and missile defence, while new NATO members from Eastern Europe were sycophantic. Australia and Japan put in a proposal that was so modest it almost fell backwards, and the EU put in common positions for each main committee, but just barely kept hold of France for its joint statement on nuclear disarmament. So what's new?

The Review Process
China has reportedly put forward an argument that, strictly speaking, the language of Decision 1 on strengthening the review process (1995) covers only the five years from 1995 to 2000. Although its representatives have assured everyone that this does not mean that China wants to curtail the review process, the analysis has caused some disquiet among Conference delegates. In addition to Ireland's proposal for the NPT to establish a small secretariat and hold annual meetings of states parties, several called for the "revitalisation of the review process". Lithuania proposed extending the review process from three to four sessions and wanted a mechanism to "transform principles and objectives into action". Switzerland wanted a package of "reaffirmed principles and updated and supplemented objectives" and an action plan on a range of issues. Similarly, Norway's Foreign Minister, Thorbjorn Jagland proposed a "programme of action" for the review process to follow up the decisions taken in the review conference, with annual meetings devoted to a limited number of specific issues, such as developing a comprehensive strategy for dealing with fissile materials, increased transparency for nuclear materials, arsenals and export controls, the CTBT, tactical nuclear weapons, and increasing uptake of the IAEA's additional protocol.

Without wanting to reopen or renegotiate the 1995 decisions, Japan proposed that the early PrepComs should focus more on the review, implementation and universality of the NPT, and should be able to address relevant international and regional issues at each session, and that drafting recommendations and preparing for the next review conference should be left to later PrepComs. Canada argued that the review process should be enhanced "with a requirement to more frequently track, discuss and document movement toward translating our commitments into action". Egypt stressed that the questions which "lend themselves to easy agreement" should not be treated separately from those on which consensus is harder to attain. Further working papers are expected next week, with the likelihood that Baali will convene a special closed plenary to discuss proposals for improving the review process next Friday.

Few new ideas are emerging from the General Debate. The main points identified in Briefing #2 are being repeated in one statement after another, and there is a clear convergence of opinion that the outcome of the Review Conference will need to include something on the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and the continuing problems with Iraq and North Korea, and statements of intent with regard to promoting the entry into force of the CTBT, getting fissban negotiations underway, furthering the START process to encompass deeper cuts and non-strategic weapons, increasing transparency with regard to fissile materials (at least), and promoting fuller uptake of the IAEA's additional protocol on safeguards. More problematic will be what to say about next steps in nuclear disarmament, missile defence, the Middle East and nuclear weapon free zones, and export controls.

Where the statements from some Arab countries did little more than castigate Israel, Egypt made concrete proposals for addressing implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which will be covered in a later briefing. Egypt stressed that without this resolution the indefinite extension of the NPT could not have been adopted without a vote. Like Egypt, Sweden gave full support to the New Agenda statement. Sweden's Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, also referred to lost opportunities and asked "what went wrong?" She wondered whether the setbacks were temporary "or are we seeing the beginning of a new era of mistrust?" Lindh identified four major areas of concern "where we lack progress or where we face new problems": reducing nuclear arsenals, bring the CTBT into force, halting the development of new weapons and systems, and nuclear weapons in regional conflicts. She stressed that it was "unacceptable" that nuclear weapons were growing in importance in the military doctrines and postures of some countries. Criticising US plans for NMD and China's attempts to block fissban negotiations in the CD, Lindh said that no-one -- "and least of all the nuclear weapon states -- have the right to hold our common security environment hostage to domestic politics".

Switzerland raised concerns that nuclear deterrence remained part of defence doctrine and new arguments for maintaining nuclear arsenals were being put forward. Several other states, including Colombia, supported the New Agenda position. Referring to "self-serving national interests" of the NWS, Malaysia argued that indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 had resulted in loss of the "only leverage" the international community had: the problem was not lack of ideas, but "lack of political will". Many countries appeared to agree.

The NAM paper reflected negotiations arising from the Ministerial Meeting in Cartagena in early April, at which NAM members India and Pakistan were also present. Arguing for the "speedy and meaningful" implementation of the obligations and commitments enshrined in the NPT and the 1995 decisions, the NAM proposed 47 draft recommendations to be considered by the review conference. Following on from earlier criticisms of NATO nuclear sharing arrangements, nuclear cooperation between Britain, France and the United States, and concerns that Israel, India or Pakistan may still be receiving assistance in nuclear-related technology, the NAM paper carried strong statements endorsing articles I and II and calling on nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states to "refrain from nuclear sharing for military purposes under any kind of security arrangements", and also to prohibit the transfer of nuclear-related equipment and technology etc. to states non-party to the NPT "without exception".

Five paragraphs dealt with nuclear testing, endorsing the CTBT's prohibition of "peaceful nuclear explosions", which Article V of the NPT had allowed. The NAM urged universal adherence to the CTBT and called on all states which had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty. In an unmistakable reference to sub-critical tests and laboratory testing, the nuclear powers were enjoined to refrain from conducting all types of tests in conformity with the objectives of the CTBT and to "comply with the letter and spirit of the CTBT".

Twelve paragraphs were devoted to nuclear disarmament and article VI. These re-affirmed nuclear disarmament as the priority in disarmament negotiations, endorsed the START process and gave support for an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament in the CD. The call for negotiations for a treaty "banning the production and stockpiling of fissile material" for nuclear weapons went beyond the basic Shannon mandate for a cut-off treaty. Particular concerns were raised about missile defences and "the pursuit of advanced military technologies capable of deployment in outer space" and the NAM called on the United States and Russia to comply fully with the ABM Treaty. Reiterating the proposals first made by South Africa in 1998, the NAM backed the establishment of a subsidiary body to Main Committee I to "deliberate on practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons" and for specific time to be allocated for the same purpose at the Preparatory Committee meetings.

The NAM emphasised the importance of universality and gave support to NWFZ, including the initiatives in Central Asia and Mongolia. They supported NWFZ in South Asia and the Middle East "on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the states of the region" and devoted a further seven paragraphs to the Middle East resolution, supporting the establishment of a subsidiary body and calling for the resolution's full implementation. They stressed "the special responsibility of the depositary states", Britain, Russia and the United States, which had co-sponsored the resolution in 1995.

Under article III, the NAM supported the IAEA safeguards regime and supported full-scope safeguards as a "necessary precondition" for new supply arrangements. No mention was made of the strengthened IAEA safeguards arising from Programme 93+2 developed after the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme. Much was made of the "inalienable right" to develop nuclear energy, and the paper called for the removal of "unilaterally enforced restrictive measures" -- namely the export controls operated through the Zangger List and Nuclear Suppliers Group -- saying that no NPT-party should be denied technology, equipment or assistance on the basis of "allegations of non-compliance not verified by the IAEA".

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