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2 May 2007, No. 3

An agenda to take us forward
Jennifer Nordstrom | Reaching Critical Will


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Tuesday passed with still no agreement on the agenda for this year's NPT PrepCom. Chairman Amano is continuing to consult, he said “with a view to ensuring support for the agenda that [he] proposed. Iran is worried that adopting an agenda that includes considering “compliance” will formalize the discussions about its nuclear programme and increase the possibility that something ends up in the factual summary of the meeting. It still looks like Iran will may be alone in blocking the agenda, so Iran needs to decide if unilaterally opposing agreement in a multilateral disarmament forum is more or less costly than the possibility of censure in the factual summary.

Meanwhile, the PrepCom has continued with its General Debate, in which states are assessing the current state of disarmament and non-proliferation and proposing solutions. Throughout the General Debate, states have emphasized the importance of upholding and building on the commitments made to nuclear disarmament at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences, especially the creation of a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (1995) and the 13 Practical Steps (2000) to measure the implementation of Article VI obligations. As Ireland said on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, it is time to build on previous commitments and move forward. Ireland suggested that nuclear weapon states publish the contents and status of their nuclear arsenals. Such a transparency measure would not only build confidence and “act as the baseline for nuclear disarmament”, it would prevent nuclear weapon states from disingenuous disarmament claims about dismantling warheads that have been in storage for 20 years. Because Reaching Critical Will agrees that determining what weapons are where will be the first step in a comprehensive global disarmament program, we put out a Model Nuclear Inventory every year. We hope this PrepCom will hold discussions on how to institutionalize and formalize this reporting requirement, which was agreed to in 2000.

On Monday, Costa Rica announced that it would be introducing an updated model nuclear weapons convention as an NPT document. The model convention was developed by international lawyers, disarmament experts and activists, and is part of the continuing trend of fruitful cooperation between NGOs and like-minded governments. Costa Rica originally introduced the convention to the General Assembly in 1997. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation, and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms have updated the arguments for the viability of a nuclear weapons convention in their publication Securing our Survival: the Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, launched on Monday. Malaysia happily noted this in its Tuesday statement. A nuclear weapons convention should be discussed in this PrepCom as a way to forge the new disarmament consensus we seek.

States also recalled the prohibition against nuclear cooperation with states that are not members of the NPT. Some of these statements are clearly complaints about states that have nuclear cooperation with Israel, but the majority were referring to the proposed US-India deal. States parties to the NPT should prevent this proposal from undermining the premise of the NPT, and call on the Nuclear Suppliers Group to do so as well.

There is a great deal to discuss at this PrepCom, and much to be done in this Review Cycle. A half dozen governments have announced that they will submit working papers this PrepCom, and NGOs have books of solutions. Governments need to agree on the agenda today so the work can begin.

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