An Important Step toward Nuclear Abolition


Nuclear Abolition News | IDN

By Jamshed Baruah
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – While the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sounds rather upbeat on the outcome of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that wrapped up on May 28, official Washington’s reaction is rather critical of some important parts of the 28-page final document.


In a statement issued by his spokesman, in which he called the month-long review conference a success, Ban particularly welcomed the agreement on a process leading to the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

“A strong spirit of compromise and cooperation has delivered a significant agreement to build a safer and more secure world,” it said, adding that the action plan lays a solid foundation to further strengthen the treaty and address the challenges that lie ahead.

“The agreement on concrete actions will advance all three pillars of the treaty – disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” the statement declared.

The UN Secretary-General “welcomes the firm commitment of the nuclear weapon states to advance their efforts to eliminate all nuclear weapons”, the spokesman said. “He also welcomes the strong commitment of the States Parties to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.”

The United States Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen Tauscher, agrees on that point.

A statement posted on the State Department’s website said: “The Final Document of this Conference . . . reflects our collective commitment to uphold and strengthen this cornerstone of the international nonproliferation regime. It also demonstrates our unified resolve to strengthen the Treaty’s three pillars – disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – with the inclusion of recommendations for follow-on actions.”

The statement takes note of the fact that the final document also includes an agreement to hold a regional conference in 2012 to discuss issues relevant to a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems.


“We have long-supported such a zone, but we recognize that essential precursors must be in place for its achievement,” it adds and assures that the U.S. take seriously their commitments with respect to this regional conference, and will work with the countries in the region to create conditions for a successful conference.

“We note, however, that our ability to do so has been seriously jeopardized because the final document singles out Israel in the Middle East section, a fact that the United States deeply regrets,” Tauscher said.

A UN media release stated: The final document of the five-yearly review forum calls on Ban and the co-sponsors of a 1995 resolution proposing a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction to convene a conference to be attended by all States in the region.

The document specifically reaffirms “the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards”, it said.

Israel is not a member of the NPT and does not admit to having nuclear weapons. Three other non-members, India, Pakistan and the North Korea, admit openly to their nuclear arsenals.


The U.S. State Department said: “We note further that the final document calls on states to comply fully with the NPT in order to uphold the treaty’s integrity and the authority of its safeguards system.

“In that regard, we recall Secretary (Hillary) Clinton’s statement at the opening of this Review Conference, noting that ‘Iran is the only country in this hall that has been found by the IAEA Board of Governors to be currently in noncompliance with its nuclear safeguards obligations.’ We note that Iran has done nothing to enhance the international community’s confidence in it by its performance in this Review Conference.”

Against the backdrop of the existing tensions between North and South Korea, the U.S. State Department criticized North Korea: “The United States deplores North Korea’s repeated defiance of international law and its international obligations and commitments.”

North Korea should understand, it added, that it will never achieve security or acceptance by the international community without the complete and verified abandonment of its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea’s behaviour, particularly its failure to implement its commitments under the Six Party Talks, to include its return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards at an early date, calls into question the utility of negotiations with North Korea, it said.

“The Six Party Talks can be an effective mechanism only if North Korea takes early and irreversible steps to return to compliance with the NPT and its nonproliferation commitments and establishes through action its credibility as a negotiating partner.”

The talks have involved People's Republic of China; the Republic of Korea (South Korea); the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea); the United States of America; the Russian Federation; and Japan.

Expectedly, the UN media release does not mention Iran. But it urges North Korea to fulfil its commitments under the now-suspended six-party talks which sought to resolve the crisis over the country’s nuclear programme.

“The Secretary-General encourages State Parties to translate all of their commitments into concrete action,” Ban’s spokesman said in the statement, welcoming “the successful outcome” of the conference.

“He looks forward to working with the international community toward realizing the common goal of a world without nuclear weapons. As Secretary-General, he will spare no effort to assist the States Parties in implementing their agreement.”

The final document, endorsed by 189 member nations of the treaty emerging from negotiations that started on May 3, is the first agreement in a decade on the 40-year-old NPT, which has set the global agenda for preventing countries from developing nuclear weapons.


The document says that the five recognized nuclear-weapon states – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – commit to "accelerate concrete progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament," take steps to "further diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons" and report back on progress by 2014.


"In implementing the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, the nuclear-weapon states commit to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed" through various agreements, the document says.


The NPT conference chairman, Philippine Ambassador Libran Cabactulan said at the closing ceremony that the revised draft declaration was "carefully balanced" to reflect demands by all parties.


According to Xinhua, he said adoption of the declaration would allow "all the seeds of hope planted throughout the conference would bear fruit."


Xinhua quoted Egyptian Ambassador to the UN Maged Abdelaziz  saying on behalf of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that the NAM considered the document "an important step forward towards the realization of the goals and objectives" of the treaty.´


On the issue of the Middle East nuclear-weapon free zone, he said the NAM countries intend to engage constructively with all concerned parties to implement the practical steps adopted in the final document.


"The road ahead is not easy but it's the only way forward," said Abdelaziz. (IDN-InDepthNews/29.05.2010)


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