Regional Issues: NPT PrepCom Day Five


By Tariq Rauf

 VIENNA, 8 May 2017: The second week of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) opened to discussion of nuclear non-proliferation and regional issues, in the Middle East, North Korea and South Asia – “Cluster 2” issues.

Indonesia, speaking on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) NPT member states, said nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing and essential for strengthening international peace and security.

Non-proliferation derives its legitimacy from the larger objective of nuclear disarmament and pursuit of non-proliferation alone, while ignoring nuclear disarmament obligations, was both counterproductive and unsustainable, Indonesia said. It said the NAM emphasized that proliferation concerns were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements.

The NAM statement said that any horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon-sharing by NPT members – the US stations nuclear weapons in five NATO states, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey – was a clear violation of non-proliferation obligations.

Under Article One of the NPT, nuclear-weapon states (NWS) agree not to transfer nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS), and under Article Two of the Treaty such states undertake not to receive them, it said.

The NAM urged an end to nuclear weapon-sharing under all circumstances and all security arrangements, including in the framework of military alliances that could have serious consequences on the effectiveness, relevance and credibility of the Treaty.

It said it recognized the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the sole competent authority responsible for verifying the fulfillment of safeguards obligations assumed by members of the NPT to prevent the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as being the global focal point for [civilian] nuclear technical cooperation.

On nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs), the NAM said such zones established by the treaties of Tlatelolco [Latin America and the Caribbean], Rarotonga [South Pacific], Bangkok [Southeast Asia], Pelindaba [Africa], the Central Asian NWFZ, as well as Mongolia’s “nuclear-weapon-free-status,” were positive steps and important measures towards strengthening global nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The NAM said it was essential nuclear-weapon states should provide unconditional assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to all states belonging to NWFZs. It also called on the nuclear-weapon states to ratify related protocols to all NWFZ treaties and withdraw any reservations or interpretative declarations incompatible with their object and purpose, and respect the denuclearization status of these zones
.

The NAM strongly supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and called for the full implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which remains an integral and essential part of the package of decisions reached without a vote that enabled the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, and that the resolution on the Middle East remained valid until its objectives are achieved.

The US drew attention to IAEA and its system of international safeguards in connection with the basic requirement for comprehensive safeguards, covering all nuclear material in all peaceful nuclear activities in non-nuclear-weapon states. It said it was up to the IAEA, in cooperation with each non-nuclear-weapon state, to ensure safeguards are implemented effectively and for the IAEA to provide assurances that these states have in fact placed all nuclear material under safeguards as required by the NPT.

The US added the IAEA needed expanded information and access provided by the Additional Protocol to safeguards agreements, and for the US and its allies a comprehensive safeguards agreement, together with an Additional Protocol, should be considered the de facto verification standard for assuring non-nuclear-weapon states compliance with NPT safeguards obligations.

The US urged all NPT States that had not yet met the requirement to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement and, or,  an Additional Protocol and, where applicable, the modified version of the Small Quantities Protocol, which restores the IAEA’s inspection rights in states with no less than one effective kilogram of nuclear material. The US encouraged all IAEA member states to ensure the Agency had the technical and financial resources and the political support it needed to carry out its safeguards mission under the NPT.

The US also encouraged states to accede to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSNT), to ratify the amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and participate actively in the global nuclear security regime underpinned by the IAEA nuclear security programme.

The European Union (EU) referred to the “threatening and destabilising actions” of North Korea and confirmed the urgent need to further strengthen the NPT and enter into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) as soon as possible. It said North Korea was the only state to have conducted nuclear tests in the 21st century in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions as well as its international commitments, such as the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks [China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the US]. The EU said  North Korea could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon state under the NPT, and reiterated its support for the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The EU urged North Korean leadership to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community
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The EU noted its continued strong support for the outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference on the Middle East and reaffirmed “its full support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East.” The EU expressed regret that it had not been possible so far to convene a Conference on the establishment of such a zone. It maintained the view that dialogue and building confidence among all stakeholders was the only sustainable way to agree on arrangements for a meaningful conference, to be attended by all States of the Middle East on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at – in accordance with UN criteria for setting up NWFZs

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The EU stated that 16 January 2017 marked the first anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed by the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The EU has continued its key role in the deal, notably through the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, who was coordinator of the Joint Commission under the JCPOA. For the EU, the JCPOA was an important non-proliferation instrument and a successful, multilateral endeavour, endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. All provisions of it must be fully implemented and the EU reaffirmed the need for Iran to strictly abide by all its nuclear related commitments through the lifetime of the agreement. The EU also stated that early ratification by Iran of its Additional Protocol was “essential”.

China said the root causes of nuclear proliferation were complex and that both causes and symptoms of nuclear proliferation should be addressed through an integrated approach and efforts for nuclear non-proliferation strengthened within the framework of global nuclear governance. China said that to enhance the authority and effectiveness of a fair and equitable international nuclear non-proliferation regime, states should “discard double standards and utilitarianism, implement obligations of the Treaty in a comprehensive, faithful and balanced manner,” and they should avoid setting non-proliferation standards according to the existence or absence of affinities between states; “uphold multilateralism” and continuously reinforce the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory nature of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime on the basis of universal participation and democratic decision-making.”

Egypt said that while ensuring the peaceful nature of nuclear programmes it was important to draw a clear distinction between legal obligations stipulated in the NPT and other voluntary, optional confidence-building measures undertaken by members of the NPT. It said such voluntary undertakings should not be turned into legal safeguards obligations as it was the sovereign prerogative of any state to conclude additional measures, and comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA were “sufficient and appropriate enough” to enable the IAEA undertake its verification tasks.

The NPT opened for signature in 1968; it is the most widely adhered to multilaterally negotiated arms control treaty with 193 member states – only India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and South Sudan remain outside the treaty.

(Tariq Rauf, a director of Atomic Reporters, was alternate head of the IAEA NPT Delegation 2002-2013. All views expressed are his own)