The most notable achievement of the third and final
preparatory committee meeting (PrepCom) for the 2000 Review of the Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT), held in New York from May 10 to 21, 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. But no one now believes that this papering-over of
differences will prevent -- short of significant progress in nuclear disarmament -- a
bitter battle next year over the viability of the NPT.
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
Colombia, made two attempts to draft a document to go to the 2000 NPT Review. His second
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 session appeared heading for the same kind of deadlock that marred the 1998 session,
but finally agreement was reached to send to the Review Conference the Chair's paper along
with all the papers submitted by states and Reyes' two drafts 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.
The New Agenda Coalition (NAC)
presented a working paper with 44 co-sponsors 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
The Non-Aligned Movement submitted a paper which, among other things, called for nuclear
disarmament negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament to culminate in a nuclear
weapons convention. NGOs presented their positions to the delegates on May 11. Thirteen
NGOs, including LCNP Executive Director John Burroughs, spoke to a half-filled conference
room on issues ranging from US-Russian relations to indigenous perspectives on the nuclear
age. LCNP additionally distributed an analysis of NATO-related issues of nuclear sharing
and qualified assurances of non-use made to non-nuclear weapon states. All of the LCNP
contributions and a more detailed report of the PrepCom can be found at www.lcnp.org/disarmament. All NGO presentations
are at www.igc.org/disarm.