The NPT and a Nuclear Weapon Free Regime
On October 29, 2004, the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to
the United Nations and the International Association of Lawyers
Against Nuclear Arms organised a roundtable and dinner on
The NPT and a Nuclear Weapon Free Regime which was attended
by approximately twenty-five government delegations, six parliamentarians
and fifteen non-governmental experts.
The roundtable was held to encourage delegations to the 2005
NPT Review Conference to begin a process for considering and
mapping the legal, technical and political elements required
for complete nuclear disarmament. Such a process could stimulate
progress by NWS and non-NWS on a range of unilateral, bilateral,
pluri-lateral and multilateral measures for nuclear disarmament.
Malaysia used the opportunity to release a draft working
paper to the 2005 NPT Review Conference, exploring the utility
of a comprehensive-incremental approach to disarmament and
outlining some of the elements required for the establishment
and maintenance of a nuclear weapon free world.
Peter Weiss, Vice-President of the International Association
of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and chair for the first session,
called on governments to consider the very practical measures
presented in the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention (Model NWC)
to control nuclear weapons and fissile material and thus prevent
the occurrence of a nuclear tragedy from the use of nuclear
weapons by either a State or terrorist organisation.
H.E. Datuk RASTAM Mohd Isa, Malaysian Ambassador to
the UN, noted that a key aim of the working paper released
by Malaysia was to assist States parties to the NPT to develop,
at the 2005 NPT review Conference, an effective program for
action encompassing and extending the practical disarmament
steps agreed in 2000.
Hon. Paul Meyer, Permanent Representative of Canada
to the United Nations in Geneva, identified some steps in
which he believed progress could be made in the short term,
including completion and implementation of the Trilateral
Initiative, arrangements by all nuclear weapon States to place
all fissile material under IAEA verification, and the further
development of verification capabilities. He also called for
action to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons.
Rebecca Johnson, nuclear analyst from the Acronym
Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, noted that current non-proliferation
initiatives such as the measures called for in United Nations
Security Council resolution 1540 and the Proliferation Security
Initiative, focused on trying to keep nuclear weapons out
of the ‘wrong’ hands. She believes that this approach is not
sustainable as it implies a discriminatory norm outside of
the parameters of international law. Such should apply equally
to everybody. The only way to prevent the proliferation of
nuclear weapons to the ‘wrong’ hands is to establish a universal
norm against nuclear weapons, as envisaged in the nuclear
weapons convention (NWC) approach.
Jürgen Scheffran, Senior Research Scientist at the
University of Illinois, noted that the threat of acquisition
or use of nuclear weapons arises from both capability and
motivation, and that verifying both would enable a much greater
degree of confidence.
Dr Scheffran referred to the Model NWC as providing a comprehensive
mix of verification technologies and mechanisms for verification
of both capability and intent. This included technical verification,
preventive controls, organization verification, transparency
and confidence building, and societal verification. The latter
has been identified by Josef Rotblat as possibly the most
important element in the maintenance and verification of a
nuclear weapons free world. For this reason it is important
to build civil society - including scientists, parliamentarians
and NGOs - into the disarmament negotiating process.
George Perkovich, from the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, introduced a recent report on compliance
with non-proliferation and disarmament obligations (Universal
Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security) which called
on the nuclear weapon States, and especially the United States,
to produce white papers indicating the procedures and technologies
that would be required in order to verifiably eliminate their
nuclear arsenals. He argued that probably the most important
considerations in moving towards a nuclear weapons free world
would be how to address the security concerns of States like
Israel, Iran, India and Pakistan. A nuclear weapons free regime
would need to be able to meet their security needs without
reliance on nuclear weapons.
Merav Datan, lawyer and a principal drafter of the Model
NWC, reemphasised the importance of steps towards both prohibition
and elimination. She noted that a key benefit of the Model
NWC was that, while it was not perfect, it demonstrated the
feasibility of nuclear disarmament. Ms Datan noted that a
value in the NWC approach was that it put the question of
how to achieve nuclear disarmament before the question of
whether, when or why nuclear disarmament should be achieved.
Such an approach is both non-confrontational and practically
oriented, and thus more likely to be able to engage the NWS
in working collectively with non-nuclear weapon States on
a common goal.
Ambassador Rastam concluded the roundtable by noting
that Malaysia would continue to engage with delegations to
expand and improve the working paper and build support for
it so that it could become a useful contribution to the 2005
NPT Review Conference.
See www.lcnp.org for a
copy of the draft working paper Legal, technical and political
elements required for the establishment and maintenance of
a nuclear weapons free world.