June 2005, No. 6
The five-year Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) concluded on May 27. Unfortunately, the outcome failed to meet the multiple challenges confronting the non-proliferation regime. Indeed, the 150 participating states failed to agree on any program of action at all. See NY Times article. The main cause for the stalemate was the refusal of the Bush administration to reaffirm or even refer to commitments made in 1995 and 2000 to implement the NPT obligation of good-faith negotiation of nuclear disarmament. (for more on this, see letter below)
LCNP released two major analyses during the 2005 Review Conference.
One was a well-received paper explaining that the 13 steps for nuclear disarmament agreed at the 2000 Review Conference are essential to interpreting and implementing the NPT Article VI disarmament obligation.
The second, done with Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), was an in-depth presentation made to an official session describing how the United States and other nuclear weapon states are failing to comply with Article VI. It addresses each of the elements of Article VI: cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, nuclear disarmament, and a treaty on general and complete disarmament. Drawing on extensive research by WSLF and also by LCNP program associate Michael Spies, the presentation documents main trends in doctrine and capability of each of the nuclear weapon states. There is some shocking detail about US programs and doctrines, for example quotes from the Defense Department’s February 2004 Strategic Deterrence Joint Operating Concept like this one: “… nuclear weapons allow the U.S. to rapidly accomplish the wholesale disruption of an adversary nation-state with limited U.S. national resources. While the legacy force was well suited for successful deterrence throughout the Cold War, an enhanced nuclear arsenal will remain a vital component of strategic deterrence in the foreseeable security environment.”
Funding for the “robust nuclear earth penetrator” (RNEP) was denied for FY 2006 by the House (for more, see below), but the issue is not yet resolved in the Senate; watch for more on this (useful sites include www.fcnl.org and www.ananuclear.org). Congress last year denied RNEP funding for FY 2005. However, the “reliable replacement warhead” program is on the rise. For more on these programs, see letter below.
As noted in the last eNews, LCNP and WSLF released an in-depth letter criticizing the anti-multilateralist record of John Bolton, nominated to be UN ambassador. The fate of that nomination is still to be decided in the Senate as of this writing.
The following letter describing the NPT Review Conference and detailing recent LCNP activities was just mailed to LCNP supporters. It’s an appeal for contributions, but even if you can’t consider that, please read on; the letter is full of information and analysis.
Dear LCNP supporter -
Richard Rhodes, author of the acclaimed history, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, recently remarked that there is no escaping the objective fact of nuclear explosive devices. While eyes may be averted at any given time, as they are now, the existence of nuclear bombs capable of destroying cities and even societies inevitably confronts us with the necessity of action. In Rhodes' view, emphatically shared by LCNP, the basic imperative is the transparent global abolition of nuclear weapons. I am writing to ask you to make a financial contribution to LCNP to enable our continued work guided by that imperative.
Rhodes spoke in a small conference room in the UN basement at one of the many inspiring and informative non-governmental workshops held in May during the five-year Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Unfortunately, the outcome of the review was definitely not inspiring: the 150 participating states failed to agree on a program of action. The main cause for the stalemate was the refusal of the Bush administration to reaffirm or even refer to commitments made in 1995 and 2000 to implement the NPT obligation of good-faith negotiation of nuclear disarmament.
Those commitments include transparent, verified, and irreversible reductions of nuclear arsenals leading towards their elimination; reduction of the role of nuclear weapons in security policies and of their operational readiness; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; and a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. The administration's position reflects U.S. backtracking on all fronts. With Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), LCNP made an in-depth presentation to an official session of the Review Conference analyzing the failure of the United States and the other nuclear weapon states to fulfill their side of the NPT bargain. LCNP also released a well-received paper explaining that the 1995 and 2000 commitments are essential to interpreting and implementing the disarmament obligation.
The fizzling of the Review Conference is regrettable, to say the least, and not only because of the missed opportunity to revitalize the disarmament agenda. Serious problems also exist on the linked non-proliferation side of the bargain, as we are constantly reminded by the media drumbeat about North Korea and Iran. The risk of terrorist acquisition of nuclear explosives also cannot be overlooked. The linked Toronto Star article surveys the issues and also quotes criticism of the State Department NPT strategy made in an LCNP/WSLF letter opposing the nomination of John Bolton for UN ambassador.
Governmental performance at the Review Conference stood in marked contrast to civil society's energy and hope, which reached a high mark not seen for two decades. A May 1 march through Manhattan and Central Park rally for nuclear abolition and against preventive war drew tens of thousands and sparked worldwide media coverage. Mayors for Peace, led by Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima and Mayor Itoh of Nagasaki, brought scores of mayors and local officials from around the world and the United States to New York to strongly urge commencement of abolition negotiations. 1700 NGOs registered for the Conference.
The analyses of the NPT disarmament obligation mentioned above, for which LCNP program associate Michael Spies did vital research, were only part of our important contribution. I wrote the briefing paper for a January Middle Powers Initiative consultation of diplomats and experts on the future of the NPT at the Carter Center in Atlanta. We organized one workshop on options for returning to the International Court of Justice, featuring Judge Weeramantry, former ICJ vice-president, and another on the legal, political, and technical elements of nuclear abolition. I spoke at the May 2 CUNY conference, "Lifting the Nuclear Shadow: Toward a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World," and gave numerous interviews to radio stations around the country.
Our task now is to build on the civil society momentum. In this Year of Remembrance and Action, LCNP will be participating in Albuquerque and Las Vegas conferences marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Through United for Peace and Justice, we will contribute to the ongoing integration of the efforts of anti-war and pro-disarmament groups. In August, LCNP international coordinator Alyn Ware will lead a Mayors for Peace meeting in Hiroshima considering next steps.
Congress too will receive our close attention. Sparked by Representative David Hobson (R-OH), chair of a key House appropriations subcommittee, Congress is resisting a Bush administration request for funding of research on a "robust nuclear earth penetrator." I came away from a meeting with Hobson this spring organized by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability convinced that he and his staff are thinking seriously about reducing the size and military role of the U.S. arsenal, though they are not ready to support abolition. One program of particular concern supported by Hobson is research on a "reliable replacement warhead," substituted last year for "advanced concepts." Contrary to the NPT obligation, the new program assumes maintenance of nuclear forces for decades to come. Further, as emerged clearly in a meeting I attended with a high Energy Department official, the weapons establishment, unlike Hobson, sees the program as potentially leading to new-design warheads, and does not exclude that "replacement" warheads would have enhanced military capabilities.
Please make as generous a donation (tax-deductible) as you can to help LCNP go forward with this crucial work. Your dollar goes a long way here; we are a high-productivity, low-cost operation. With a donation of $100 or more, you can choose to receive as a gift the just released second edition of Judge Weeramantry's Armageddon or Brave New World? Reflections on the Hostilities in Iraq. Donate online through the link below, or a check to LCNP, 211 E. 43d St., Suite 1204, New York, NY 10017.
Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy
211 E. 43d St., Suite 1204
New York, NY 10017 USA
tel 212 818 1861; fax 212 818 1857