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WILPF statement to the UN Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) welcomes the UN Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to be held on 24 September 2009. We urge the UN Security Council to use this opportunity to constructively contribute to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation by taking steps toward a nuclear weapon free world and the promotion of collective human security and security for all life on this planet.

Ahead of the summit, the US government released a draft resolution for the UN Security Council to consider as an outcome document, which was then consolidated into a revised draft with input from other Council members. WILPF is encouraged by the scope of the document, which covers a wide range of important issues. In particular, WILPF welcomes its recognition of the importance of negative security assurances and nuclear weapon free zone treaties and its commitment to supporting the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency on non-proliferation and safeguards. We are especially pleased with the addition of a preambular paragraph in the final version that notes “the contribution of civil society in promoting all the objectives of the NPT,” (PP23—all references are to the final version of the resolution, dated 18 September 2009) though we are disappointed that it was downgraded from the second draft, which welcomed and encourage “the constructive role played by civil society in promoting nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.”

However, both versions of the draft resolution focus nearly exclusively on strengthening existing non-proliferation measures and advocating new, more stringent requirements, while at the same time maintaining the status quo (i.e. no progress) on nuclear disarmament.

The only reference to disarmament in the operative paragraphs of the resolution simply reiterates Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (OP5). The references to nuclear weapon free zone treaties (PP13 and PP14), negative security assurances (OP9), and “the need to pursue further efforts in the sphere of nuclear disarmament” (PP11) in the preamble are not accompanied by concrete actions in the operative paragraphs. Neither draft mentions the thirteen practical steps toward nuclear disarmament that was unanimously agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, nor any other nuclear disarmament proposal, such as the UN Secretary-General’s five-point plan for disarmament or an international Nuclear Weapons Convention or framework agreement. In addition, the only reference in the resolution to nuclear weapon delivery vehicles is to “monitor closely any situations” involving their proliferation (OP28).

Meanwhile, the draft goes far beyond non-proliferation commitments outlined in the NPT, calling for UN Security Council consideration of all “situations of noncompliance with nonproliferation commitments” (OP1), encouraging states to consider the Additional Protocol a new standard when making nuclear export decisions (OP19), and urging states “to require as a condition of nuclear exports” that IAEA safeguards continue even if the state withdraws from its safeguards agreement (OP20). The first of these demands does not indicate how determinations of non-compliance will be made, or by whom, or which non-proliferation obligations are included in the scope of this demand. In addition, there has of yet been no agreement in the NPT or IAEA frameworks about where or by which methods situations of non-compliance should be dealt with. It is traditionally up to the relevant treaty or organisation to determine these conditions, not external bodies. Furthermore, the resolution does not refer cases of non-compliance with disarmament obligations to the UN Security Council.

The other two non-proliferation examples given above—and several others in the resolution—have been brought up in the NPT context before and have been met with opposition by many non-nuclear weapons states. These measures could indeed be beneficial to strengthening non-proliferation, but they cannot be extended without reciprocal commitments to disarmament.

PP11 fails to acknowledge that some of the recognised nuclear weapon states have not ratified relevant protocols of some nuclear weapon free zone treaties. In addition, the encouragement of “efforts to ensure [safe] development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy” in OP11 does not acknowledge the extreme environmental risks of nuclear power or the nuclear fuel cycle or the problems posed by both for the achievement of a nuclear weapon free world.

In order to achieve a meaningful outcome that advances an equitable and secure nuclear weapon free world, WILPF encourages the UN Security Council to call for concrete actions and commitments to both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

On disarmament, the UN Security Council should:

  • Call for a halt to development, production, design, modernization, and acquisition of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and for the establishment of international controls on delivery systems and anti-missile systems;
  • Call for transparency regarding the size and status of nuclear weapon forces;
  • Refer to the International Court of Justice’s 1996 advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons;
  • Call for concrete actions on the 1995 and 2000 NPT decisions and commitments;
  • Fulfill its commitment to formulate a plan for nuclear disarmament with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources, pursuant to Article 26 of the UN Charter;
  • Call upon the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations of a fissile material treaty in 2010 on the basis of the Shannon
  • Mandate and to address the factors that have complicated the negotiation process in the interim months; and
  • Call on all nuclear weapon states to drop their reservations to relevant protocols of nuclear weapon free zone treaties and ratify all such treaties.

On non-proliferation, the UN Security Council should ensure that its related requirements and commitments do not exhort the current imbalance between “nuclear have’s and have not’s” by demanding tighter restrictions on the behaviour of non-nuclear weapon states while promising disarmament by the nuclear weapon states as an “ultimate” goal in the distant future. The context of all non-proliferation measures should designed as steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, not toward their indefinite possession by an elite group of states.

On nuclear energy, the UN Security Council should urge governments to accelerate and enlarge their support for development of commercially viable renewable and non-carbon emitting sources of energy and to phase-out nuclear power, as a measure strengthening both non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

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