Big powers pledge “concrete steps” toward nuclear disarmament
The world’s five original nuclear states — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to "take concrete and credible steps towards irreversible disarmament" of their nuclear arsenals and to take "concrete steps" to establish the a nuclear-weapons free zone In the Middle East. But the big powers set ...
The world's five original nuclear states -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to "take concrete and credible steps towards irreversible disarmament" of their nuclear arsenals and to take "concrete steps" to establish the a nuclear-weapons free zone In the Middle East. But the big powers set no fixed deadline for achieving either of those goals, and the United States has made it clear it will not press Israel to eliminate its undeclared nuclear weapons program until there is peace in the Middle East. The so-called P-5 also made no commitment to halt efforts to modernize their nuclear warheads. Still, the U.S. and its nuclear partners signalled a willingness to engage the non-nuclear weapons states on issue they care about, including a pledge to start negotiations in Geneva on a pact providing security assurances for non-nuclear states.
The world’s five original nuclear states — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to "take concrete and credible steps towards irreversible disarmament" of their nuclear arsenals and to take "concrete steps" to establish the a nuclear-weapons free zone In the Middle East. But the big powers set no fixed deadline for achieving either of those goals, and the United States has made it clear it will not press Israel to eliminate its undeclared nuclear weapons program until there is peace in the Middle East. The so-called P-5 also made no commitment to halt efforts to modernize their nuclear warheads. Still, the U.S. and its nuclear partners signalled a willingness to engage the non-nuclear weapons states on issue they care about, including a pledge to start negotiations in Geneva on a pact providing security assurances for non-nuclear states.
In a joint statement, the five powers raised concerns about the proliferation risks posed by Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, and proposed reinforcing trade restrictions on nuclear technologies and strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency’s authority to inspect states’ nuclear power programs to prevent diversion to a military program. They also proposed that countries that withdraw from the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as North Korea did in 2003, should be held accountable for any violations of the treaty they may have committed before pulling out.
Below is a copy of the joint statement the nuclear powers presented at the NPT’s eighth review conference at U.N. headquarters in New York:
STATEMENT BY THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, FRANCE,THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE 2010 NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY REVIEW CONFERENCE
1. The People’s Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their strong and unswerving support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on the occasion of the Eighth Review Conference of the Treaty.
2. The NPT is fundamental to protecting global peace and security from the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It has served the international community well for the past four decades. It remains the bedrock of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the collective pursuit of nuclear disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We stress the importance that all States Party fully implement and comply with the Treaty, and we reaffirm our unequivocal commitment to the Treaty and to strengthening the NPT at the Review Conference so that it can effectively address the current and pressing challenges that we face.
3. We also reaffirm our commitment to carry on the results of the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences. We welcome the constructive discussions and positive atmospherics at the Preparatory Committees of the Eighth Review Cycle and the agreement in New York in May 2009 of an agenda and rules of procedure for this Review Conference. We believe this, together with the success of the UN Security Council Summit on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, and the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1887, demonstrate the international community’s shared commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of the NPT, in a way that promotes international stability, and based on the principle of undiminished security for all.
4. We attach great importance to achieving the universality of the NPT. We urge those States that are not Parties to the Treaty to accede as non-nuclear-weapon States and pending accession to the NPT, to adhere to its terms. We stand ready to work with Parties to engage the non-Parties with a view to achieving this goal.
5. As nuclear-weapon States, we reaffirm our enduring commitment to the fulfilment of our obligations under Article VI of the NPT and our continuing responsibility to take concrete and credible steps towards irreversible disarmament, including provisions for verification. We recall our wide ranging discussion in London in September 2009 of the confidence-building, verification and compliance challenges associated with achieving further progress toward disarmament and non-proliferation, and steps to address those challenges. We recall the unprecedented progress and efforts made by the nuclear-weapon States in nuclear arms reduction, disarmament, confidence-building and transparency since the end of the Cold War and note with satisfaction that stocks of nuclear weapons are now at far lower levels than at any time in the past half-century. Our individual contributions to systematic and progressive efforts in this respect have been and will be highlighted by each of us nationally. All other States must contribute to fulfilling these disarmament goals by creating the necessary security environment, resolving regional tensions, promoting collective security and making progress in all the areas of disarmament.
6. We support the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague. When it is fully implemented, the Treaty will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear weapons since the 1950s. We believe it to be a significant step in the implementation of Article VI that will promote international stability and undiminished security for all through mutual trust, openness, predictability and co-operation, and thus help create the conditions for moving toward our disarmament goals and build a strong basis for addressing the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
7. We reaffirm our determination to abide by our respective moratoria on nuclear test explosions before entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and call on all States to refrain from conducting a nuclear test explosion. The moratoria, though important, are not a substitute for legally binding commitments under the CTBT. We will continue our efforts aimed at early entry into force of the CTBT and achieving its universality and call upon all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this Treaty. We recognise that one key element in the effective implementation of Article VI and in the prevention of nuclear proliferation is the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). An FMCT would help cut off the most important building blocks needed for nuclear weapons. We call for early commencement of negotiations on the FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament.
8. We emphasise the importance of the prohibition of chemical, biological and toxin weapons in realising the objective of Article VI and urge all countries which have yet to do so to sign, ratify and bring into force the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
9. The proliferation of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations. It sets back the cause of disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament, and imperils the prospects for strengthening international co-operation in nuclear energy, including the role we wish to see such co-operation play in combating climate change and ensuring sustainable development of nuclear energy. We reaffirm that all States Party must ensure strict compliance with their non-proliferation obligations under the NPT and work actively to ensure that others comply with their non-proliferation obligations.
10. The proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear programme remain of serious concern to us. We underscore the importance of Iran’s full and immediate compliance with its international obligations. We urge Iran to respond to the concerns of the international community by complying promptly and fully with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We strongly urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfil the commitments under the Six-Party Talks, including the complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in accordance with the September 2005 Joint Statement, and we reaffirm our firm support for the Six-Party Talks. We remain determined to achieve the satisfactory resolution of these dossiers through diplomatic means.
11. We underline the fundamental importance of an effective IAEA safeguards system to prevent nuclear proliferation and to facilitate co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We call on all non-nuclear-weapon States that have not yet done so to bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement, as provided for in Article III, or a modified small quantities protocol at the earliest opportunity. We welcome the fact that 131 States have signed an additional protocol and that ninety-eight States have an additional protocol in force. We note the IAEA’s view that it cannot credibly verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities without an additional protocol and call on all States that have yet to do so to take the necessary steps to bring the protocol into force. We believe that the comprehensive safeguards agreement with an additional protocol should become the universally recognised verification norm and are ready to offer the necessary support. We affirm our support for the new Director General of the IAEA and will work with him to enhance the Agency’s capabilities. We remain committed to ensuring that the IAEA has the necessary resources and authority to fulfil its safeguards responsibilities, including deterring and detecting non-compliance. Where non-compliance is established by the IAEA Board of Governors, the case should in accordance with the IAEA Statute be brought to the immediate attention of the UN Security Council to determine whether it constitutes a threat to international peace and security. We emphasise the Security Council’s primary responsibility in addressing such threats.
12. Nuclear-weapon-free zones that are established in accordance with Article VII of the Treaty and the Guidelines from the UN Disarmament Commission’s 1999 Session and are fully complied with have made and continue to make an important contribution to the strengthening of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime in all its aspects, and to achieving nuclear disarmament and the ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament under effective international control. We support enhanced consultation and co-operation among the Parties to existing zones and call for the consideration of the establishment of new zones where appropriate and in conformity with the wishes of regional states. We recognise the importance of establishing regional zones free of weapons of mass destruction. We welcome dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues related to nuclear-weapon-free zones.
13. We are committed to a full implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East and we support all ongoing efforts to this end. We are ready to consider all relevant proposals in the course of the Review Conference in order to come to an agreed decision aimed at taking concrete steps in this direction.
14. We urge all States to take all appropriate national measures in accordance with their national authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to prevent proliferation financing and shipments, to strengthen export controls, to secure sensitive materials, and to control transfers of intangible technology. We reaffirm our support of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Zangger Committee and note the important role of these two international export control mechanisms in securing the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
15. In 1995 we issued separate statements on security assurances as noted in United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 (1995). Some of us have subsequently issued statements about their assurances. We note the importance attached by non-nuclear-weapon States to security assurances and their role in strengthening the non-proliferation regime. We stand ready to engage in substantive discussions on security assurances in the Conference on Disarmament.
16. We believe that the threat from non-state actors’ ambition to acquire fissile material or nuclear weapons has altered the nature of the proliferation challenge. The threat is both real and urgent. We emphasise that the acquisition of nuclear weapons or related materials and technical expertise by non-state actors would constitute a threat to international peace and security. We reaffirm the importance of full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1540 (2004), 1673 (2006) and 1810 (2008), as well as the international Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. We call for all States Party to ratify the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, to achieve the necessary two-thirds ratification status so that this Amendment can come into force. We call for States Party to develop and support a co-ordinated global nuclear security effort as an integral element of the international community’s approach to the broader nuclear agenda. We renew our commitment made at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit to strengthen nuclear security and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. We welcome and join President Obama’s call to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.
17. We recognise the inalienable right of all States Party to the NPT reflected in Article IV to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaty and the relevant principles on safeguards. We note the increasing demand for nuclear energy and stress its potential in addressing climate change, in facilitating achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development, in providing energy security and in addressing vital non-power applications such as nuclear medicine, agriculture and industry. We underline the particular importance of international co-operation, both through the IAEA and bilaterally, for States Party new to nuclear technology. We are ready to work actively with States Party wishing to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses consistent with their NPT and IAEA safeguards obligations. We welcome the outcome of the March 2010 Paris Conference on access to civil nuclear energy and the fruitful exchanges on the challenges and opportunities associated with the sustainable development of nuclear energy.
18. We call for the development of nuclear energy in a culture of openness and transparency, which builds confidence amongst neighbours and stress the importance of promoting the sustainable development of peaceful nuclear energy within a framework that ensures effective safety, security, non-proliferation conditions, and arrangements for civil nuclear liability for the benefit of all. We welcome the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, including assurance of fuel supply and related measures, as effective means for facilitating nuclear co-operation in accordance with Article IV and addressing the expanding need for nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel services, preserving the competitive open market, responding to the real needs of customers and strengthening non-proliferation. We note the various related proposals that have been put forward and welcome the IAEA Board of Governors’ approval of the Russian Federation’s initiative and signing on 29 March 2010 of the Agreement between the IAEA and the Government of the Russian Federation to establish a reserve of Low Enriched Uranium for supply to the IAEA for its Member States. We urge the Board of Governors to agree upon further measures to this end as soon as possible.
19. States Party have the right to withdraw from the NPT under Article X. However we call for the United Nations Security Council to address without delay any State Party’s notice of withdrawal from the Treaty, including the events described in the required withdrawal statement by the State pursuant to Article X. A State Party remains responsible under international law for violations of the NPT committed prior to its withdrawal. We welcome discussion of modalities under which NPT States Party could respond collectively to a notification of withdrawal, including the disposition of equipment and materials acquired or developed during NPT membership. At the same time we are convinced that any decision taken in relation to withdrawal from the NPT should not lead to the revision of Article X, reopen the text of the Treaty, or undermine the commonly recognised principles and norms of international law.
20. Seeking a safer world for all and creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in accordance with the goals of the NPT will require determined, long-term international co-operation based on common interest. Our commitment to this goal is unshakable. We call on all States Party to seize the opportunity of the Review Conference to strengthen further the international nuclear non-proliferation regime by taking forward a set of concrete, realistic and workable measures, based on a balance across the three mutually reinforcing pillars of the Treaty, for stepping up international efforts against proliferation, making demonstrable progress on disarmament, and sharing in the benefits of peaceful nuclear co-operation. We will work closely with States Party at and beyond this Conference towards achieving the NPT’s objectives and the goals agreed at the Conference.
Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch
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