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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its Importance to Disarmament Efforts

The 2000 NPT Review Conference
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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970. Central to the treaty is the concession of the Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons and in exchange, the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) agree to make progress on nuclear disarmament and provide unrestricted access to nuclear energy for non-military uses. The NPT has become the cornerstone of global :

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Missile Defense

disarmament efforts, yet its very existence is threatened by recent developments in nuclear policies and the current impasse in negotiation efforts.

The 1995 Review Conference
Every five years the treaty is reviewed and advancements in disarmament are evaluated. At the 1995 Review and Extension Conference , the NPT was indefinitely extended and parties to the treaty agreed to a program of action, identifying measures necessary to making progress in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The three principal components of the 1995 Principles and Objectives included: a Comprehensive Test Ban by 1996; a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons production; and "systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally." In its 1996 Advisory Opinion , the International Court of Justice reaffirmed the need for progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons by concluding

"There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

The 2000 Review Conference

Crucial to the outcome of the year 2000 Review Conference will be the extent to which the Nuclear Weapons States are able to demonstrate any progress made toward fulfilling obligations under the NPT and the 1995 Principles and Objectives . However, recent developments in nuclear policy demonstrate the resolve of the Nuclear Weapons States to maintain their arsenals. The Nuclear Weapons States must take responsibility and avoid further attempts to weaken nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. The 2000 Review Conference will provide an opportune forum to immediately engage in negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Threats to the NPT

Issue: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty opened for signature in 1996. Ratification of the treaty by the 44 Nuclear Weapons-Capable States is required before the treaty can enter into force. To date, only 2 of the Nuclear Weapons States, France and the United Kingdom have ratified the CTBT and three of the 44 Nuclear Weapons-Capable States, the DPRK, India and Pakistan, refuse to sign the treaty. The CTBT received a further setback in October 1999, when the US Senate failed to ratify the treaty in spite of US public support for nuclear disarmament and nearly unanimous endorsement of the treaty by the international community. Preventing further nuclear weapons development is the clear aim of the CTBT, yet the US, Russia, and other Weapons States proceed to develop new nuclear weapons using computer simulations and subcritical underground nuclear testing. Although not a full nuclear weapons test, subcritical testing violates the heart and spirit of the CTBT.

Issue: Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)
Disagreements in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) have prevented negotiations on a FMCT. After being deadlocked from 1996-1997 in the CD, the primary multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament, an ad hoc committee was established in 1998 to fulfill the mandate of the 1995 Principles and Objectives. However, the FMCT ad hoc committee did not reconvene in 1999 because of disagreements. Substantive arguments on whether or not existing stocks of nuclear material should be included with the prohibition of new production in the FMCT have further prevented progress. Negotiations have also been complicated by US plans to deploy a national missile defense system.

Issue: Ballistic Missile Defense
Although Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) has been called "defensive", it poses great international risk. The US is developing a National Missile Defense (NMD) system and President Clinton is expected to make a decision on deployment in June 2000. Deployment of an NMD system will require the abrogation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty , thereby increasing already volatile tensions with Russia and China. Russian officials have threatened that any amendments to the ABM treaty could undo 20 years of arms control efforts. In addition, the NMD system will increase the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology and poses the risk of initiating a new arms race.

Issue: NATO Expansion
NATO jeopardized the NPT in April 1999 by stating that nuclear weapons are "essential" to its security. Although the Cold War ended more than ten years ago, this policy reflects the inability of NATO States to relinquish Cold War fears and outdated ideologies. Failure to eliminate nuclear weapons from its arsenal has resulted in increased tensions with Russia and its former allies.

Issue: South Asia and the Middle East
Since the 1995 Review and Extension conference, two additional countries, India and Pakistan , have tested nuclear weapons. Also, Israel has admitted to producing and testing nuclear weapons. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by India, Pakistan and Israel has been destabilizing to South Asia and the Middle East and there is certainly no prospect of any of these countries giving up their nuclear capability. These three defacto Nuclear Weapons States must be convinced to adhere to the NPT and the CTBT to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology and prevent any further destabilization in the Middle East and Asia. Failure to do so will set an adverse precedence for other states attempting to acquire nuclear technologies.

Rescuing the Disarmament Regime
Disarmament efforts will remain at great risk of being diminished should the NPT unravel because of the resolve of a few countries to center their policies and security on outdated ideologies and expensive military hardware. All parties to the treaty, particularly the Nuclear Weapons States, must reaffirm their committments to fulfill existing obligations. The NPT must be salvaged and strengthened in order to move forward with disarmament efforts. The year 2000 NPT Review and Extension Conference will provide an opportunity to rebuild confidence with non-nuclear parties and make substantive progress on nuclear disarmament.

( C.O. )