4 May 2007, No. 5
Jennifer Nordstrom | Reaching Critical Will
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The 2007 PrepCom met from 3:32 to 3:37 pm on Thursday, long enough for Chairman Amano to tell us that governments' positions have not changed, and that he will continue to hold consultations. He scheduled the next meeting for this morning at 10am. Iran is still unable to accept the last clause of Amano's proposed agenda, which reads “reaffirming the need for full compliance with the Treaty.” All other governments are prepared to accept the agenda as is. In shuddering reminders of the time spent arguing over procedure at the 2005 Review Conference, governments and NGOs have used the two missed sessions to run around discussing potential solutions. To give our readers a taste of the menu of options, we have listed some below, with pros and cons, and our best guess of their success.
Option 1: The Chair reads a statement clarifying that the Committee understands that compliance means compliance with all provisions of the Treaty.
Pros: This would make the definition of compliance explicit and put it on the record, without opening the agenda. The PrepCom would be able to officially continue, by consensus, with cluster debates.
Cons: A somewhat similar compromise failed in 2005, in the infamous asterisk situation.
Likelihood of success: Iran may be unwilling to accept this solution.
Option 2: The Chair inserts “all provisions of” into the disputed clause of the agenda, between “with” and “the”, so that it reads: “with all provisions of the Treaty.”
Pros: This would make the definition of compliance explicit and put it on the record. The PrepCom would be able to officially continue, by consensus, with cluster debates.
Cons: Depending on how the Chair handled it, this option could open the agenda to other amendments, which would make consensus more difficult.
Likelihood of success: The Chair and/or some of the nuclear weapon states may be unwilling to accept this solution.
Option 3: The PrepCom continues without an agenda.
Pros: The PrepCom would be able to continue based on the current agenda, without a messy or embarrassing vote.
Cons: Without an officially-agreed agenda, the discussions have less authority.
Likelihood of success: Some members of the Non-Aligned Movement may be unable to accept this solution.
Option 4: The PrepCom votes on the agenda, using Rule 28 of the rules of procedure.
Pros: The PrepCom would be able to officially continue, and there would be a record of which states stood where.
Cons: Amendments could be introduced that would further divide the room, and undermine the near-consensus that exists. Also, Rule 28 stipulates that the Chair has to defer the vote for 48 hours after it comes up, meaning the PrepCom would lose another two days of work. Moreover, it would start the review process without consensus, which could undermine the legitimacy of and commitment to future agreements.
Likelihood of success: Some western states may be unable to accept this solution.
Option 5: The PrepCom uses the 2002 agenda.
Pros: This agenda refers to both the 1995 and 2000 outcome documents, but does not contain the “compliance” phrase.
Cons: This ignores the last four months of consultations by the Chair on the agenda and the current compromise that has thus been reached.
Likelihood of success: Only Iran has publicly supported this solution.
Option 6: The Chair deletes the “compliance” clause from the agenda.
Pros: This would remove the controversial clause.
Cons: The agenda would not include compliance.
Likelihood of success: unclear
Option 7: The Chair suspends the meeting.
Pros: Governments drop the pretense, reveal the situation to their citizens, and save resources. A complete failure could inspire necessary public and governmental reaction.
Cons: The PrepCom fails, beginning this review cycle with the admission that one state can stop the entire Treaty review process. The 2010 review cycle begins with a worse result than the 2005 review cycle did, at a time when the disarmament and non-proliferation regime is in crisis.
Likelihood of success: Unlikely.
Option 8: The Committee continues to meet each day for five minutes, and the Chair says that he is continuing consultations and needs more time.
Pros: The PrepCom continues to try to find solutions, and does not admit defeat.
Cons: Governments and NGOs waste time and money pretending to find solutions instead of actually finding them, or admitting the truth.
Likelihood of success: Success? hmmm. Occurence? Likely.
These discussions are about more than the diplomats in this room, they are reflective of an international security environment and macro politics in which nuclear weapons are used as threats. In order to build comprehensive, collective security, compromise agreement must be reached. All options are on the table