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3 May 2007, No. 4

Business as usual? A SWOT of the PrepCom
Susi Snyder | Women's International League for Peace and Freedom


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Still unable to reach consensus on the proposed agenda, substantive debates at this PrepCom are postponed until 3 PM today. Instead of moving directly into the focused disarmament discussions, as outlined on the indicative timetable, Chairman Amano will conduct “intensive consultations” with states and regional groupings, seeking consensus on the proposed agenda.

Iran is continuing to block consensus because it objects to the inclusion of “reaffirming the need for full compliance with the Treaty” in the proposed agenda. While the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has not publicly distanced itself from its Iranian member, Iran, and Iran alone, is blocking agreement and thus movement forward.

In order to avoid the infamous procedural nightmare that mired the 2005 Review, perhaps diplomacy can take a cue from the private sector, whose emphasis on efficiency and productivity may be as foreign as possible to those of us in the political world.

In the business world, there is a managerial analysis called SWOT, whereby management assesses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that arise in any process. In order for Iran—and all states parties for that matter—to more effectively exercise the art of the practical, such a SWOT analysis could be a useful tool to assess where we are and provide insight on how to move forward.

There are several strengths with which we can work, derived from both the international political climate as well as this specific PrepCom. These include: an agenda that includes both the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and the 2000 outcome document; a strengthened and renewed New Agenda Coalition; an active and evolving Non-Aligned Movement; a relatively congenial and constructive approach by the United States, demonstrated in their recent compromise in the Conference on Disarmament and their willingness to work with an NPT agenda including 1995 and 2000; the recent positive tones and movement in the CD; and the recent success of the heretofore stalled UN Disarmament Commission, which concluded last week with a working paper that contained ten fundamental principles for the implementation of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

These strengths are accompanied by several weaknesses, the utmost of which is the current failure to adopt an agenda. It is unfair and manipulative for Iran to object to the agenda at the last minute, after months of intensive consultations. We are plagued by other relevant weaknesses as well, including that the CTBT has not yet entered-into-force, the continued vertical proliferation in the nuclear weapon states, the struggle to bring the DPRK back into the NPT fold, and other such oft-cited predicaments.

Despite these problems, there exist several opportunities which must be seized. Chairman Amano's agenda gives the chance to assess compliance in all its aspects—an opportunity that the Iranians have yet to recognize in the very wording they oppose. While they see the reference in the agenda to “full compliance” as an invitation for states to heap criticism on their nuclear programme, they should also see it as an opportunity to address compliance with Articles VI, IV, the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, the 13 steps, and the other elements that make the NPT the cornerstone of our international security regime. By seizing such an opportunity—rather than squelching it in a purely defensive posture—all states can work to set a framework for 2010 and begin to build the consensus necessary for a strong outcome document.

If states do not recognize our strengths, mitigate our weaknesses, or seize our opportunities, they risk increasing the threats to our security—including further treaty outbreaks, a cascade of proliferation and, ultimately, the potential collapse of the entire disarmament and non-proliferation regime and our global security structure based on cooperation and the rule of law.

The longer we delay, the less time there will be for talking about nuclear disarmament. We expect all states to find a way to agree at 3pm today to get back to the substantive work we came here to do. The world needs this PrepCom and this review cycle to assess and ensure compliance with the non-proliferation and disarmament obligations enshrined in the Treaty, and avoid the business as usual that has characterized disarmament machinery for the last several years.

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