19 May 2005

Review Conference for Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Allocates Agenda Items to Three Main Committees

Also Establishes Subsidiary Bodies to Consider Issues of Nuclear Disarmament, Middle East, Withdrawal

NEW YORK, 18 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following intensive consultations, the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) today adopted the remaining procedural decisions that will finally allow it to begin its substantive work in its three Main Committees tomorrow.

The decisions, coming “at the eleventh hour”, according to Committee President Sergio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil), concerned the allocation of items to the Main Committees (document NPT/CONF.2005/CRP.3) and the creation of subsidiary bodies (document NPT/CONF.2005/CRP.4).

After the adoption of those decisions, Mr. Duarte read a statement to the effect that it was understood that each of the three Main Committees would allot time to their subsidiary bodies according to the proportions of the last Review Conference.

Prior to adoption of those decisions, it continued to hear the presentation of working papers.

Among the 17 papers introduced was an in-depth consideration of withdrawal from the Treaty submitted by Australia and New Zealand and presented by the latter’s representative. She said that the implications of any withdrawal were so grave that the Conference should attempt to agree on some common understanding, leading to a prompt and appropriate international response in case of any further withdrawal.

She said that immediate steps should be taken following notification of a withdrawal, which would underline the potential seriousness of such a move for international peace and security. The issue should immediately and automatically, be referred to the Security Council. There must be agreed-upon consequences. In addition, a State that withdrew should remain accountable for any breach of its obligations while still a party, and technology and materials intended for peaceful uses must remain under those obligations.

The representative of the Republic of Korea also stressed that universal principles should govern withdrawal from the NPT, in introducing a paper that focussed on the case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He urged that country to return to six-party talks without further delay.

Disarmament by nuclear-weapon States was also a focus of some of the papers presented today, in particular one presented by the New Agenda Coalition, which had been formed in response to the nuclear tests of India and Pakistan. Its paper was also introduced by the representative of New Zealand and outlined conditions necessary to create real momentum towards elimination of nuclear arsenals.

A nuclear-free zone in the Middle East continued to garner attention, as the representative of Qatar, on behalf of the Arab League, introduced a paper proposing steps to be taken towards that end. In addition, several papers concerned protection of nuclear materials and technology against illicit trafficking, peaceful uses of nuclear technology and control of fissile material, among other topics.

Working papers were also introduced by the representatives of Norway, China, Cuba, Australia, Canada, Austria, Netherlands and Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union).

The 2005 Review Conference on the NPT will meet again at a time to be announced.


The 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) met this morning to continue hearing introductions of working papers by States parties.

Introduction of Working Papers

KJETIL PAULSEN (Norway) introduced working paper 23 entitled “NPT -- a dynamic instrument and core pillar of international security”, which describes the present security environment as “radically different” from the one existing 35 years ago when the Treaty entered into force. Indeed, the Treaty was the first line of defence against the spread of nuclear weapons, and, thus, it was essential to ensure full compliance with all of its provisions. The paper details Norway’s proposals for: strengthening the non-proliferation regime; moving forward the disarmament agenda; peaceful use of nuclear energy; and sustaining the NPT.

On the latter series of proposals, she said that the paper promoted the further creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones as important for sustaining the regime. The announced withdrawal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from the Treaty posed a fundamental challenge, making it essential to further develop disincentives to withdraw.  States parties should formally address such fundamental challenges by strengthening the Treaty’s institutional machinery.

That meant, among other things, support for the nuclear-weapon-free zones by nuclear-weapon States through the signing of relevant protocols for negative security assurances, and the development of such zones in areas of tension, she said. Also, nuclear-weapon States should adhere to their unilateral declarations of 1995 and be ready to enter into negotiations on legally binding negative security assurances. States parties must be able to deal with cases of non-compliance, while recognizing the statutory role of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. Special meetings of the States parties could be held in case of an emergency, unless that was more appropriately handled by the Council and the IAEA.

HU XIAODI (China) introduced working papers 5, 6, and 7, respectively, on, nuclear issues in the Middle East, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and security assurances. By the first, the Chinese delegation requested the inclusion of certain elements in the report of Main Committee II and the Conference’s final document. Those elements included:  promotion of Middle East peace, including through greater support of the Security Council in playing a more active role; support for a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone; and resolution, through dialogue and within the framework of the IAEA, of the Iranian nuclear issue.

He said that the paper also noted the great significance of Libya’s decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes and accept IAEA inspections, which would consolidate and strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Israel should accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards without delay. The States concerned in the region should sign and ratify comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency and the Additional Protocol.

Turning to working paper 6, on peaceful use of nuclear energy, he requested that the following elements, among others, also be included in the report of Main Committee II and the final document:  enhanced efforts in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; that non-proliferation efforts should not undermine the legitimate rights of countries, especially the developing countries, to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; the provision of technical assistance to the developing countries in that regard; and the assurance of adequate funds to guarantee the Agency’s promotional and technical cooperation activities.  Governments should take primary responsibility for the physical protection of nuclear material and facilities.

On security assurances, he said the working paper requested incorporation of the following elements, among others:  subject all nuclear weapons to complete prohibition and destruction, and pending that, all nuclear-weapon States should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time and under any circumstances; the conclusion of internationally legally binding security instruments as soon as possible; and a lowering of the role of nuclear weapons in the strategies of nuclear-weapon-States. Also, the Conference should re-establish an ad Hoc committee on negative security assurances and start substantive work and negotiations without delay, he said. 

YURI ARIEL GALA LOPEZ (Cuba) said his country turned in its national report on article VI of the NPT, though it has not been published and, hence, had no number. He was also circulating three working papers, one on transparency and verification (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.24), one on peaceful uses of nuclear energy (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.25), and one on international law and non-proliferation (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.26).

That last paper, he said, contained an analysis of the legal consequences of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and Security Council resolution 1540. The PSI, as promoted by the United States, he said, conflicted with State sovereignty, the law of the sea, and the multilateral framework of the non-proliferation regimes.  In introducing the other papers, he stressed that questioning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy of individual States contradicted the NPT treaty and the principles of national sovereignty.

On behalf of the League of Arab States, Mr. HASSAN AL-NESE (Qatar) introduced working paper 40 on the Treaty’s functioning.  At the 1995 review, States parties had agreed on a resolution on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. In 1995, the Arab States were not yet parties to the NPT, but they joined the Treaty in light of the positive results that had been achieved in the 1995 and 2000 reviews, particularly adoption of the Middle East resolution. Israel remained the only State in the region not party to the NPT. It also continued to refuse to submit its nuclear installations to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.  The present Conference was an opportunity to reach agreement on practical steps towards implementing previously adopted resolutions.

He said that the Arab States were convinced that the only practical solution to prevent proliferation of mass destruction weapons was to adopt a regional approach and to rid the Middle East of those arms.  It was imperative for the Conference to make an unequivocal call on Israel to accede to the Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State. The following measures should be taken, without delay:  establish a subsidiary body within Main Committee II to discuss implementation of the Middle East resolution; implement the recommendations on the Middle East, particularly the immediate accession of Israel to the safeguards regime; the United Nations should hold an international conference on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East; the nuclear States should commit themselves not to transfer any nuclear arms or material to Israel; those States should also pledge not to help Israel in any way that would contribute to the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons.

TIM CAUGHLEY (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, noted obligations for disarmament in article VI of the NPT. In their working paper (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.27), a methodical way forward in disarmament was discussed, he said, as well as the necessity for all countries to enter into the treaty. He called on all States, in addition, to reaffirm and respect the moratorium banning nuclear testing and to close nuclear testing sites where relevant.  He called on the United States to reconsider its stance on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and for China to bring forward its process of ratification.

The Conference on Disarmament, he said, must again serve as a forum for disarmament and non-proliferation treaties. The negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for non-peaceful uses was its next logical achievement. There had been little progress in that area.

The starting point for disarmament, he said, was a perceptual change moving away from the belief that nuclear weapons were needed to sustain a country’s political importance.  Linked to that were measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear-weapon systems.  In that context, he welcomed the Moscow Treaty, saying that its potential would only be realized if it were supplemented with provisions for irreversibility, transparency and verification.

In general, he acknowledged that significant reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons had been made.  Nonetheless, they fell short of his Coalition’s expectations under article VI. If there were to be real momentum towards fulfilling those obligations, then the nuclear-weapon States must continue to make systematic and progressive efforts towards the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. In all facets of disarmament and non-proliferation, he demanded processes that were verifiable and said that the papers presented by the United Kingdom contained a number of useful proposals in that regard.

IN-KOOK PARK (Republic of Korea) introduced working paper 42.  Reviewing some key elements of the working paper, he said it suggested principal elements to be included in the Conference’s final document, which concerned the North Korean nuclear issue. The paper urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the six-party talks without further delay. The paper also included some comments on withdrawal from, and deficiency of, the NPT, with an emphasis on universality. On disarmament, the paper urged the nuclear-weapon States to exercise their moral authority by undertaking further nuclear disarmament, adhering to the CTBT and concluding a fissile material cut-off treaty.

On non-proliferation, he said that the paper had focused on universalization of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol as a standard inspection norm. It also commented on export control issues. On the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the paper discussed his country’s perspective on the relationship between the Treaty’s rights and obligations. On fuel cycle issues, the paper made some suggestions on key criteria, including economic feasibility and energy security, to be reflected during the process of formulating new approaches to the fuel cycle question.  Hopefully, the paper would contribute to galvanizing States parties to engage fully in all of the issues and to better understand his country’s positions.

Ms. BRIDGE (New Zealand), on behalf of Australia, submitted working paper 16 on article X of the treaty, which concerns withdrawal. The implication of withdrawal from any part of the NPT was “extremely serious”. Because of that, the Treaty strictly limited the circumstances under which withdrawal was possible. But, the implications of any withdrawal could be so grave that the Conference should attempt to agree on some common understanding, leading to a prompt and appropriate international response in case of any further withdrawal. She was not suggesting amending article X; she was suggesting that the NPT parties should not be able to evade their Treaty obligations and commitments simply by withdrawing from it.

She said her proposal was simple:  any State that withdrew should remain accountable for any breach of its obligations while still a party. Some immediate steps should be taken following notification of a withdrawal, which would underline the potential seriousness of such a move for international peace and security. The issue, immediately and automatically, should be referred to the Security Council.  States parties might also call an extraordinary meeting to emphasize the importance of such a notification for all parties. Consequences of withdrawal should also be agreed.

Why should a State that acquired nuclear material, equipment or technology while a party to the NPT, under the obligation to use that material for peaceful purposes, be allowed to retain the use of such acquisitions if it withdrew from the Treaty? she asked. Nuclear equipment, technology and material should be subjected to the obligation on peaceful use, even if the recipient State withdrew from the Treaty.  The Conference could not and should not turn a blind eye to the withdrawal issue. States parties should think about how to tackle that critically important issue.

Mr. MEYER (Canada) introduced his country’s working paper contained in document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.39, achieving permanence with accountability, civil society. The prep-com process, with its tendency to kick down the road any substantive problem, was inadequate. The time had come to make meetings more effective with an annual review conference on the state of the Treaty’s implementation. He presented a draft text to that effect.

The participation of civil society in the implementation of the NPT, he said, should also be enhanced.  The working paper contained a text to that effect as well.

Mr. WILKE (Netherlands), on behalf of Belgium, Norway, Lithuania, Spain, Poland and Turkey, presented a working paper (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.35) that sought to cover middle-ground positions to be included in the final documents of the Conference. It covered such topics as the preservation of the integrity of the NPT; safeguards and verification; accountability and transparency; fissile materials; peaceful uses; the CTBT; negative security assurances; non-strategic nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament.

CHRISTINE GOSTA (Austria) introduced the second of six working papers (document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.13) submitted by Australia, Canada, Denmark Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and his country, on “Physical Protection and Illicit Trafficking”. The paper would have the Conference underline the importance of physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities and to maintain the highest standards of physical protection.

She said that the Conference should welcome all progress in that context. It should note with serious concern recent revelations about illicit trade in nuclear equipment and technology and should endorse the IAEA’s call for full cooperation from all its member States in identifying supply routes and sources. The Conference should also note that physical protection and measures to combat illicit trafficking were parts of a national system of nuclear security, the existence of which should be made a precondition for transfers of nuclear material, sensitive equipment or technology.

DIRK JAN KOP (Netherlands) introduced the working paper contained in document NPT/CONF.2005/WP.11, on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He said that the paper confirms the right of nations to develop such peaceful uses, and also affirms safeguards agreements and others as preconditions for cooperation.  Cooperation should not be continued with States that were not in compliance with such preconditions.

The paper, he said, also affirms the central role of the IAEA and stresses the importance of its mid-term strategy. It recommends that the agency take into account the needs of the least developed countries, among others, when planning its future activities.  It urges countries to meet their financial and other obligations to the technical development fund of the IAEA and other areas.

JAMES CASTERTON (Canada), on behalf of Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, introduced working paper 10 on compliance and verification. The issues it addressed were of fundamental importance to all, given the serious challenges shaping the environment in which the parties were conducting their work. The co-sponsors of the working paper, collectively and informally known as the “G-10”, were of the view that the Conference should stress the important contribution of the Treaty to worldwide security and its effectiveness in checking nuclear proliferation, thereby preventing destabilization caused by nuclear arms races.

He said that the Conference should also underline the importance of all States in demonstrating a strong commitment to the Treaty. It should recognize that the Treaty conferred a set of interrelated and mutually reinforcing obligations and rights on States parties. In order to strengthen accountability and transparency, States parties should also adhere to the strengthened safeguards system. Clearly, meeting current and potential compliance challenges were key tasks for the NPT strengthened review process.  Those challenges must be met firmly by upholding the Treaty’s integrity and by reinforcing the authority of the IAEA’s safeguards system.  Accordingly, the Conference should reaffirm the fundamental importance of full compliance, including with relevant safeguards.

The Conference should also reaffirm the statutory role of the IAEA’s Board of Governors and Director General, and underscore both the importance of the Agency’s access to the Security Council and other relevant United Nations organs. It should note that any State party that did not comply with its obligations under the Treaty isolated itself through its own actions from the benefits of constructive international relationships and from the benefits which accrued from adherence to the Treaty. While recognizing the value of comprehensive safeguards, such agreements provided only limited assurance regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. It was necessary, therefore, for those agreements to be supplemented by additional protocols of the IAEA. 

Mr. KAYSER (Luxembourg), on behalf of the European Union, presented working paper 37, on the world partnership to reduce threats through cooperation. During the Conference’s preparations and general debate, many delegations had highlighted the importance of the Cooperative Threat Reduction-Global Partnership Initiative and its relevance to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. That concept had also been presented to the Conference on Disarmament and the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). The nuclear-arms reduction process developed in the past decades had brought to light the enormous technological and financial problems connected with the actual elimination of nuclear weapons.  The ensuing partnership was a multilateral effort aimed at addressing those problems.

He said that Canada, the European Union -- and many of its member States on a national basis -- Japan, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United States and others had worked together under the initiative, in order to secure and dismantle nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, materials, carriers and infrastructure. The culmination of such initiatives took place in Canada in June 2002, when the  G-8 announced a global partnership against the spread of mass destruction weapons. Participants at that summit had pledged to raise up to $20 billion over 10 years to address those threats. At a time when the nuclear proliferation threat was growing, along with the risk that terrorists might acquire nuclear weapons or related materials, the partnership was a significant additional way to accelerate the nuclear disarmament process.

The nuclear component of the initiative was relevant to the NPT’s review process and that strengthened the Treaty. In particular, the deactivation of thousands of nuclear warheads under that programme was an effective measure in the context of cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. In addition, the initiative facilitated cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, as called for the Treaty’s preambular portion. It had also facilitated accession of a number of countries to the Treaty, thereby strengthening the regime. The Conference was invited to recognize the importance of the programmes for the destruction and elimination of nuclear weapons, among others.

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