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12 May 2008, Final Edition

Looking ahead: Recommendations for the rest of the 2010 review cycle
Ray Acheson | Reaching Critical Will & Michael Spies | Arms Control Reporter


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In the final plenary meeting of the PrepCom, Chair Yel’chenko announced that his factual summary would not be annexed to the Committee’s report, but would be turned into a working paper, just as Chair Amano’s summary was last year. This announcement was followed by the adoption of the report and closing statements, when several delegations expressed both great appreciation for Chair Yel’chenko and extreme displeasure with his factual summary (see the News in Brief on page 3 for details).

While some delegations expressed support for the value of a chair’s summary, Egypt’s representative suggested the Chair should have taken a different approach to his paper, arguing that the PrepCom needed to adopt a report that included substantive items for discussion and that charted areas of convergence. He said that the Chair’s draft, which included controversial items and did not sufficiently identify action-oriented proposals, represented a lost opportunity to develop a consensus document upon which the next session of the PrepCom could build.

Over the course of this PrepCom session, several delegations made substantial, concrete proposals on specific issues related to strengthening and implementing the Treaty. Some of these proposals have generated broad interest, momentum, and/ or convergence, suggesting they are or could be ripe for action by the 2010 Review Conference. Below, six of these areas are identified, with recommendations for action provided.

Revitalizing the practical steps to nuclear disarmament
While most delegations welcomed the reductions that four of the nuclear weapon states have undertaken, most also argued that reductions are not occurring transparently, irreversibly, or quickly enough and many argued that there have been little or no effective measures related to nuclear disarmament, as called for in Article VI of the NPT.

The overwhelming majority of delegations argued that the 13 practical steps, unanimously adopted at the 2000 Review Conference, still constitute the roadmap for implementing Article VI. Many delegates reiterated the need for the steps to be recommitted to, reported on, and implemented. Some suggested the steps could be updated or refreshed to reflect the changes in global security since 2000. Japan’s working paper on nuclear disarmament, aspects of Germany’s “New NPT Implementation Baseline”, and France’s “action plan” for nuclear disarmament all reflect and build upon elements of the 13 steps. Some delegations expressed interest in the UK’s work with Norway and VERTIC on multilateral disarmament verification and in the development of a verifiable post-START arrangement and more substantial US-Russian bilateral reductions. On 30 April, Switzerland’s Amb. Streuli suggested that bolder bilateral reductions along with commitments by all nuclear weapon states to a moratorium on the development of nuclear weapons would go a long way. Many delegations called for nuclear weapon states to reduce the operational status of their nuclear weapons as an interim step to disarmament. Momentum around this particular issue was generated at the 2007 UNGA First Committee, where a resolution on de-alerting received overwhelming support from UN member states.

Recommended action: The RevCon should seek to establish a goal-oriented path toward implementation of Article VI, perhaps through a review of the 13 practical steps that does not forsake past commitments. To this end, the third session of the PrepCom should call unambiguously on all states (with an emphasis on the nuclear weapon states) to report specifically on their implementation on each of the 13 practical steps to the 2010 RevCon.

Increasing transparency through reporting
A number of delegations increased their calls for a standardized reporting mechanism as a means to creating an environment more suitable for nuclear disarmament by raising the level of transparency, accountability, and trust among NPT states parties. In WP.26, the New Agenda Coalition highlighted the need for transparency and confidence-building, primarily through a reporting mechanism for nuclear arsenals, future plans for downsizing, and the reduction of reliance on nuclear weapons in national, regional, and collective security doctrines. On 2 May, Canada and Mexico called for increased official reporting on these elements as well, and Japan’s WP.10 on nuclear disarmament includes a non-exhaustive list of possible categories for reporting. Project Ploughshares published a report on reporting, Transparency and Accountability, which both assesses the current level and quality of reporting by both NWS and NNWS and makes suggestions for developing a standardized reporting mechanism.

Recommended action: States parties should consider these suggestions at the next PrepCom session and seek to adopt a legally-binding reporting mechanism at the RevCon.

Implementing the 1995 resolution on the Middle East
To some states, establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East constitutes a fourth pillar of the NPT. This goal is at the heart of the bargain to extend the Treaty indefinitely in 1995; it is bound to a related, identified goal of states parties achieving the Treaty’s universality; and it has implications for global security concerns, including the Middle East peace process.

In WP.20, which appeared to interest even some of the nuclear weapon states, Egypt presented a non-exhaustive list of concrete measures aimed at operationalizing the 1995 Middle East resolution. The paper calls on the 2010 Review Conference to consider: calling on the NWS to convene a conference of all Middle East states to conclude a legally-binding and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty establishing a NWFZ in the Middle East, further inviting the NWS to undertake multilateral and bilateral consultations to define the modalities of this conference; calling on all states parties to require as a precondition that Israel accept IAEA full scope safeguards and legally-binding commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons before entering into supply arrangements; calling on the IAEA to reduce the level of technical cooperation with Israel until it accedes to the NPT as a NNWS; further requesting all states parties take practical measures to bring about Israel’s accession to the Treaty as a NNWS; issuing a statement of support for establishment of a Middle East NWFZ within a declared time frame; and calling on states parties to submit reports to each Preparatory Committee meeting and Review Conference on their efforts toward implementation of the 1995 resolution.

Recommended action: These steps should be carefully considered at the next PrepCom, with a view to establishing a subsidiary body dealing with specific and substantive proposals at the 2010 RevCon and seeking consensus on next steps through informal and formal discussions on the issue at the UNGA and in other fora.

Establishing a standing NPT secretariat
During this PrepCom, several delegations, including Canada, Switzerland, and New Zealand, spoke in favour of a standing secretariat to coordinate and manage the NPT’s meetings and processes. A secretariat would provide consistency throughout review cycles: it would be able to focus year round on implementing the Treaty’s provisions; keeping track of, standardizing, and assessing proposals and reports; providing outreach to member states; and increasing transparency and balance of the implementation all three pillars. It could, in essence, actually become a framework for achieving the objectives of the NPT. One delegation insisted that a standing secretariat would not be useful, but the majority appear willing to consider an institutional framework for the NPT.

Recommended action: The 2010 Review Conference would be the perfect time to give the NPT the structural support it needs and deserves. States parties should use the rest of this review cycle to discuss and devise a standing NPT secretariat, recognizing the valuable contribution that the BWC Implementation Support Unit and the OPCW have played in implementing those WMD conventions.

Disarmament and non-proliferation education
Nineteen delegations joined Japan this year to emphasize the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education as a tool to working toward creating the conditions for a nuclear weapon free world. They argued that education will nurture new thinking by both governments and citizens, which will in turn empower individuals to make their contribution, as national and world citizens, to disarmament and non-proliferation. In WP.9, Japan elucidated the value of disarmament and non-proliferation in the NPT context and suggested that the recommendations in UN Secretary-General report A/57/124 on how to promote disarmament and non-proliferation education should be reaffirmed and followed. In order to implement the recommendations, the paper suggests that efforts on education in the NPT context should include “deepening discussions among security and disarmament experts on the security benefits of and challenges to the NPT regime, and providing knowledge on these issues to the public.” It recommends that experiences in education efforts should be shared among member states, international organizations, and civil society.

Recommended action: This review cycle should emphasize education and call for states parties to implement the recommendations contained in A/57/124 as a means to strengthening the NPT regime through enhancing transparency and awareness, leading to democratic engagement of the people on issues of security and disarmament.

Fissile materials treaty
In 2007, the Conference on Disarmament came closer than ever to beginning negotiations on a fissile materials cutoff treaty (FMCT). Some states maintain reservations about starting negotiations without a clear mandate guided by the principles of verification and non-discrimination, which the vast majority of states agree should be included in the treaty, along with restrictions on fissile material stocks. The International Panel of Fissile Materials (IPFM), an independent group of arms control and non-proliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, has engaged in and will soon publish extensive research on the verification of a future fissile material treaty.

In the interest in regaining momentum towards negotiation of such a treaty, Germany, in WP.21, suggested that first steps could include fissile material-producing countries committing to: a political declaration containing a fissile material cut-off; adopting the necessary measures for security, control, and accounting of weapon-usable materials; and to enter without preconditions into negotiations on a non-discriminatory, legally-binding FMCT. WP.21 also suggests an alternative approach toward an FMCT, calling for a framework treaty and charting the course for a gradual implementation process. Under this approach, states parties would separately conclude additional implementation protocols, developing an effective verification system and broadening the scope of the treaty. In parallel to this approach, the paper also suggests the establishment within the CD of a Group of Scientific Experts to examine technical aspects of an FMCT and the commencement of a Fissile Material Control Initiative as a voluntary arrangement to be pursued along with or independently of an FMCT.

Recommended action: Initiatives parallel to negotiation of a fissile materials treaty, such as Germany’s proposal of a control initiative, should be discussed during this review cycle, with an aim to engaging the majority of UN member states as opposed to just the 65 CD members and independent initiatives such as IPFM in order to generate support for immediate commencement of negotiations for a fissile materials treaty in the CD.

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