NPT Review Conference: Final Days

May 25, 2010

Late last night, President of the Review Conference, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, circulated a draft “Final Declaration” intended to capture consensus of the Treaty’s membership across the work of the three main committees and subsidiary bodies.

The document remains hotly debated and actual consensus is still elusive. 

The following key issues are still under debate:

  • MENWFZ:  The United States and Egypt, on behalf of the P5 and Arab League, respectively, are still attempting to hammer out compromise on language for actions toward implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.  The Guardian reported Monday that the United States contacted Israel over the weekend to secure its participation at a 2012 conference to discuss the zone, which it hopes will address Egypt’s and its partners’ concerns about lack of movement on the issue.  The Arab League seeks UN oversight of a conference and actual negotiations on a NWFZ.
  • Withdrawal/Article X:  Language meant to prevent states from escaping their Treaty safeguards obligations following withdrawal from the Treaty under Article X is almost entirely bracketed in the final declaration.  The language in the current draft underscores that states remain responsible for violations committed under the NPT prior to withdrawal, and acknowledges that supplier states can develop return clauses in contracts in the event of withdrawal. 
  • Additional Protocol:  The United States sought going into the conference to achieve language making the Additional Protocol a standard part of IAEA safeguards.  The NAM, led by Egypt, along with Brazil, continue to advocate the voluntary nature of the protocol.  It’s not clear how hard the United States will continue to push for language emphasizing the evolutionary nature of IAEA safeguards.  Existing language in the draft declaration calls the Additional Protocol the verification standard that best fulfills objectives of Article III. 
  • Export controls:  The language characterizing the importance of national and international export controls remains under debate.  The NAM is calling for less emphasis on what it views as internationally imposed, coercive frameworks.  The Vienna Group continues to support highlighting of UN Security Council resolutions 1540 and 1887 and Zangger Committee guidelines in the text.  There is little chance that many countries will support language advocating Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines given anger over the NSG’s exemption for civil nuclear trade with India.
  • Restrictions on transfers:  Current language calls on states to consider whether a country has an additional protocol in force in nuclear export decisions.  The NAM calls for no language restricting nuclear transfers; the United States and other Western governments want suppliers to look at fulfillment of the Additional Protocol, factors such as safety, and whether a state may intend to proliferate or reprocess or enrich nuclear material.
  • Action plan for disarmament:  During yesterday’s Main Committee I meeting, P5 members attempted to reduce the strength of language in the disarmament steps action plan, angering many, including the NAM, who had hoped the stronger language would remain intact.  France called for deletions on P5 declarations of their military fissile material stocks, and the United States wanted no mention of security assurances for non-nuclear weapon states as legally binding.  The P5 are resisting any language on timelines for disarmament or changes to their nuclear doctrines.  The United States has reportedly reached the political limit of its flexibility in agreeing to additional disarmament steps.