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Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation: Report on the 1999 Preparatory Committee Meeting for the 2000 NPT Review

Report on the 1999 Preparatory Committee Meeting for the

2000 NPT Review

by Jim Wurst



The most notable achievement of the third and final preparatory meeting for the 2000 Review of  the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is that it did not fail.

The final report gives the veneer of agreement, but all the agreements are on procedural, not substantive, issues. Still, this was something of a victory since the 1998 session of the PrepCom ended in deadlock. There was widespread belief that if a similar fate befell this session, then the 2000 Review Conference would be in deep trouble. But no one now believes that this papering-off of differences will prevent -- short of significant progress in nuclear disarmament -- a bitter battle next year over the viability of the NPT.

The PrepCom, held in New York from 10 to 21 May, did settle some procedural points. Most importantly, the Review Conference will take place in New York from 24 April to 19 May 2000. Ambassador Jacob Selebi of South Africa will be the president of the Conference. The secretariat was also asked to prepare documents for the Conference on the full range of issues involved in the treaty, including the implementation of Article VI, and the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.

With broad acceptance that the 1998 Chair's paper was unusable because it was merely a massive list of everyone's ideas, the Chair of this PrepCom, Ambassador Camilo Reyes of Columbia made a first attempt at a substantive report with a paper on 14 May in which he tried to distill the most important elements into a 31-paragraph report. There was something in it for everyone to accept or reject -- and they did. Among the obvious red flags: calling on states "to refrain from nuclear sharing... under any kind of security arrangements" (an allusion to NATO's nuclear sharing policy); the naming of Israel as the only state in the Middle East not to be a party to the NPT; and a distinct shortage of steps the nuclear weapon states could take to fulfill their Article VI obligations.

A flood of papers in reaction to the draft followed and on the second to the last day of the PrepCom (20 May), Reyes released a revised text. The new paper was 61-paragraphs and, while it did not go far enough to satisfy the Non-Aligned states, it went much further than his first draft in spelling out what the Nuclear Weapon states should be doing. In particular, the paper calls for "a number of practical steps that the nuclear-weapon states can and should take immediately before the actual elimination of nuclear arsenals." These steps include progress on START II and III, a "seamless process" of bringing the other nuclear weapon states into negotiations with the US and Russia, the "need for the nuclear-weapon states to reduce further their reliance on nonategic nuclear weapons" and to work for their elimination, and an ad-hoc committee at the Conference on Disarmament "with a negotiating mandate to address nuclear disarmament."

The paper also says a nuclear-weapon-free world "will ultimately require the underpinnings of a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument or a framework encompassing a mutually reinforcing
set of instruments." Reyes' draft also includes a "expression of deep concern that Israel continues to be the only State in the [Middle East] which has not yet acceded to the Treaty and refuses to place all its nuclear facilities under the full-scope safeguards of the IAEA" and calls on Israel to accede to the NPT.

The session appeared heading for the same kind of deadlock that marred the 1998 session, but finally (the session did not end until 10:30 PM) agreement was reached to send to the Review Conference the Chair's paper along with all the papers submitted by states and Reyes' first draft with the notation: "The Preparatory Committee was unable to reach agreement on any substantive recommendations to the 2000 Review Conference." This means all the PrepCom materials will go to the Review Conference -- as will the disagreements between the nuclear weapon states and the vast majority of non-nuclear states.

Points of View

The New Agenda Coalition (NAC) was active at the PrepCom. NAC presented a working paper with 44 co-sponsors saying "the balance sheet in meeting the nuclear disarmament objectives set in 1995 is not... satisfactory" and calling for "interim measures" including de-alerting, the "reduction of reliance on nonategic nuclear weapons," and an instrument against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The paper prepared by the NAM called once again for commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on "a phased program of nuclear disarmament and for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified framework of time, including a Nuclear Weapons Convention..." The NAM also called for negotiations for a legal instrument assuring non-nuclear States against the threat or use of nuclear weapons (negative security assurances) to be annexed as a protocol to the NPT. In fulfillment of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, the NAM stressed the urgency of Israel acceding to the NPT without delay and recommended a subsidiary body at the 2000 Review to examine this question.

As at previous PrepComs, NGOs had the opportunity to present their positions to the delegates. On 11 May, 13 NGOs spoke to a half-filled conference room on issues ranging from US-Russian relations to indigenous perspectives on the nuclear age. LCNP executive director John Burroughs, speaking on Multilateral Instruments and Forums, canvassed the different possible paths to a nuclear weapon free world. He stressed that every forum and instrument must be evaluated by whether it contributes, as required by the World Court opinion, to the achievement of nuclear disarmament in all its aspects .

LCNP also co-authored a presentation on Qualitative Measures and Policies , highlighting the need for de-alerting and no-first use commitments as interim measures leading towards abolition. LCNP additionally distributed two papers, "The Legal Case for De-Alerting" and an analysis of NATO-related issues of nuclear sharing and qualified assurances of non-use made to non-nuclear weapon states. All of the NGO presentations are at www.igc.org/disarm.

For more information, contact the Acronym Institute < www.acronym.org.uk >, BASIC < www.basicint.org >, the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs <www.un.org/Depts/dda >.

 

 

 

 

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