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9 May 2007, No. 8

We have a PrepCom
Jennifer Nordstrom | Reaching Critical Will



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PrepCom participants appeared fairly surprised yesterday morning when Iran, after a long-winded statement that sounded like an explanation for blocking the agenda, suddenly said it “had the honor to announce” it could agree to the agenda and South Africa's proposal from Friday. The Conference then agreed to the agenda, the understanding that “compliance with the Treaty” means with all provisions of the Treaty, and to proceed with the indicative timetable. Then, instead of packing our bags and heading home, we proceeded to substantive debate on Cluster 1 issues yesterday afternoon.

The morning session was not without its fireworks, of course. Iran did not accept the South African proposal as it was, but amended it so that there is an explicit connection between the understanding of the “compliance” phrase and the agenda (via a familiar asterisk). Chairman Amano nearly complicated the matter by separating the amendment from the proposal before South Africa welcomed it, clarified it, and no one objected. The ordinarily subdued Japanese Chair showed frustration and even gave a rebuttal to the attacks delivered in Iran's “acceptance speech”, citing dates and occasions of his consultations on the agenda.

By the end of the day, however, we found ourselves settling into meeting mode. The PrepCom spent the afternoon buzzing through 26 statements on Cluster 1, which is generally understood as the nuclear disarmament cluster. Chairman Amano had requested states to keep to five minutes or less, and a number of delegations shortened their delivered statements while circulating longer written statements. Governments across the political spectrum reaffirmed their commitment to the outcomes of the 1995 and 2000 review conferences. Egypt reminded the PrepCom that the indefinite extension of the NPT was largely agreed to because of the resolution calling for a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. Canada articulated the general understanding of the international community that the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament from 2000 are the objective benchmarks by which to measure compliance with Article VI of the Treaty. The New Agenda Coalition noted that these steps are the agreed process for systematic nuclear disarmament.


States also highlighted various steps of the 13 practical steps, and commented on their implementation. It was regularly noted that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not entered into force, and a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons has not been negotiated. Governments also called for further verified treaty-based reductions from the US and Russia, and, while noting what has been done, generally assessed that it has not been enough. Many states also called for a diminished role for nuclear weapons in security doctrines, and noted concern about new military doctrines with expanded scenarios for nuclear use, and the development of new nuclear weapons. States called for the nuclear weapon states to de-alert their nuclear weapons, reducing the immediate risks of accidental nuclear war.

Governments also reaffirmed the importance of transparency, irreversibility, and verification in disarmament measures. Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Australia, and Iran supported submitting regular reports on the implementation of Article VI, as called for in step 12 of the 13 steps. Canada gave details on what this reporting might look like, while Brazil suggested the Secretariat make a chart of disarmament measures based on statements delivered by the nuclear weapon states, which Canada supported. Because Reaching Critical Will also believes such reporting is necessary for the international community to monitor Article VI implementation, we produce a Model Nuclear Inventory for each NPT meeting. (Please see the RCW team to get your delegation’s copy.) States Parties should make such reporting and monitoring a feature of the review process.

Although we do not have much time left at this PrepCom, we do have a great deal of substance. After 26 statements impressively delivered almost entirely within the five-minute time limit set by the Chair, there were a couple minutes left for “interactive debate”. This morning, governments will focus on nuclear disarmament and security assurances, and will hopefully have more time for discussion. Leaving the chamber, participants could be seen bewilderedly muttering, “We have a PrepCom. A late PrepCom, a short PrepCom, but a PrepCom.”

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