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Updated: May 3, 2011
Disarmament Discussions: Day Three of the NPT PrepCom 2012
The first session of the PrepCom continued on Thursday with sessions devoted to general debate and statements on Cluster 1 issues.
The first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued on Thursday with sessions devoted to general debate and statements on Cluster 1 issues.
Although the indicative timetable called for the morning session of Day 3 to be devoted to discussion of Cluster I issues, the Conference was running behind schedule when the meeting began, with 17 countries, organizations, and groups still waiting to make statements. The first part of the day was therefore devoted to general debate, featuring statements by Iraq, Hungary, Argentina, Qatar, Spain, Kazakhstan, Libya, and Cuba, among other countries, and by regional groups including OPANAL and the African Union. The U.S. Ambassador also delivered a statement on behalf of the five recognized Nuclear Weapon States.
The general debate finished just before the lunch break, and the conference moved on to discussions of clustered issues, beginning with Cluster 1 issues, which primarily consist of implementation of those provisions of the Treaty pertaining to disarmament. The Chair noted that during this phase of the discussions, delegations can make comments after the conclusion of a statement or intervention, but none today took the opportunity to do so.
In both their opening statements and their comments in the cluster discussions, many states expressed dismay about the standstill in the Conference on Disarmament. Several delegations argued that the first step toward a nuclear-weapon-free world was the conclusion of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, and that the situation in the CD made it far more difficult to do so. However, there was some disagreement on the appropriate method of addressing this; some argued that States Parties should consider moving negotiations on this issue outside the confines of the CD, while others were reluctant to go so far. Another issue that came up frequently in the Cluster 1 discussions on Thursday was the development of a standard reporting form for the Nuclear Weapon States in accordance with Action Item 21 from the 2010 Action Plan. Several members of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative noted that they had proposed such a form and urged the P5 to consider it. Both the United States and France pointed out that Article VI of the NPT pertained to non-nuclear as well as nuclear disarmament obligations, and therefore their statements contained information about their disarmament efforts with regard to biological, chemical, and conventional weapons as well as nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom's statement emphasized their collaboration with Norway in the UK-Norway Initiative to promote research into disarmament verification technologies, a matter they also discussed at a side event. Many of the non-nuclear weapons states spoke to the need for irreversibility, transparency, and verifiability with regard to disarmament efforts. Several also made the comment that reductions in stockpiles, while laudable, were no substitute for complete nuclear disarmament.
There were two side events held in the morning. The New Agenda Coalition offered a briefing for NGOs, coordinated by Reaching Critical Will. Representatives from Brazil, South Africa, Sweden, and Mexico spoke about the NAC's goals for this year's PrepCom and the 2015 review cycle.
Additionally, the Vienna Center on Disarmament and Nonproliferation VCDNP hosted a workshop with Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian (Iran, currently at Princeton), Ambassador Rüdiger Lüdeking (Germany), and Dr. Frank von Hippel (Princeton, IPFM co-chair). The speakers focused on the results of the April E3+3 meeting in Istanbul, prospects for the upcoming meeting in Baghdad, and the potential for diplomatic compromise. While the discussion covered many different points, there were a few themes that resonated throughout. First, all sides acknowledge that any agreement will have to be comprehensive in nature and incorporate a step-by-step plan with reciprocal measures. Second, both sides agree on the need for mutual confidence-building measures. Third, there is some disagreement as to whether UN Security Council Resolutions regarding indefinite suspension of enrichment are in line with the NPT. Ambassador Lüdeking also emphasized the difference between talks with the IAEA and those with the E3+3, explaining that the IAEA's goal is to clarify outstanding issues of compliance with safeguards agreements, while the E3+3 talks are about restoring confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.
Additionally, there were four side events held at lunchtime. The first looked at the 2012 Conference on the Middle East WMD-Free Zone and its prospects. Speakers noted that while there was support among states for the zone on the conference floor, the same representatives expressed skepticism and doubt in the halls. However, they urged those present to view the Conference as an opportunity and to explore ways that civil society could be involved.
The second side event, hosted by RCW and the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, was entitled "Modernization of nuclear weapons: Launch of a civil society study." RCW passed out their latest publication on nuclear weapon modernization, and speakers discussed the UK's nuclear deterrent and replacement of its nuclear warhead and missile systems; civil society and United States modernization; the importance of divestment by private sector companies for disarmament; and international law and the legal and political obligations of modernization.
Thirdly, William Charles Vogt (U.S. DOD), Rose Gottemoeller (U.S. DOS), Mikhail Ulyanov (RF MFA), and Alexander Troshkin (RF MOD) gave a briefing on implementation of the New START Treaty. Both sides agreed that the first year since New START's entry into force was a success, including 18 on-site inspections, 4 exhibitions, and 3 Bilateral Consultative Commission meetings. Overall, all four representatives concluded that the progress in implementing the treaty shows the agreement's viability and effectiveness, that parties are able to constructively resolve issues that arise, and that joint work is already achieving tangible results.
Finally, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence hosted a side event titled "UK-Norway Initiative on the Verification of Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement." Four presenters spoke about the ongoing technical collaboration to look into tools, techniques, and methods that can be used to verify a multilateral verify nuclear warhead dismantlement program. The speakers discussed lessons learned from the 2008/2009 Managed Access Project exercise and the 2010 exercise dealing with sensitive information and security issues. All four speakers expressed optimism about the future of the project and a desire to promote similar initiatives between other NWS and NNWS, as well as to engage the academic community.
More 2012 PrepCom Reports
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