Weekly RevCon Update: Week 1 (May 3-7) of the NPT Review Conference

May 13, 2010

Last week, ISIS attended Week 1 of the NPT Review Conference, and returned cautiously optimistic about the atmosphere and progress thus far on substantive work.  Although it remains in doubt whether a substantial final document can be achieved, countries may yet find common ground on a general strengthening of their commitments to the Treaty, reiterate past conference decisions, and lay out a consensus containing agreements to be implemented over the next five years.  The United States’ recent transparency about the size of its nuclear arsenal and renewed commitment to disarmament has created a favorable atmosphere for negotiations.  Furthermore, Iran’s early attempts to block the start of work over procedural issues, in particular seeking to prevent the establishment of a subsidiary body in Main Committee III that would cover strengthening treaty withdrawal provisions, were thwarted by agreement that the subsidiary body would cover the NPT institutional deficit in addition to responses to withdrawal. 

Interesting information heard around the Review Conference regarding particular country views and conference priorities:


  • Would respect President Obama’s intervention on the Middle East nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) issue, and would prefer to negotiate directly with the United States
  • Feels action must be taken on the NWFZ issue, not simply discussion for the next five years

South Africa:

  • Viewed the U.S. opening statement as very positive given domestic political constraints, and in particular transparency about nuclear weapon numbers
  • Believes the United States cannot carry all of the nuclear weapon states, and that they need to deliver their own commitments on disarmament
  • Saw U.S. Nuclear Posture Review as generally favorable, except its turning of treaty compliance into an issue by indicating those not in compliance could be attacked with nuclear weapons
  • Views lack of serious prosecution of A.Q. Khan network members critically, given the threat the network posed to the NPT, and since it was virtually alone in successfully prosecuting key network members

United States:

  • Sees two possible positive outcomes of the conference: a short final document, or something longer, which could be obtained through reaching agreement with Egypt on the Mideast NWFZ issue
  • Will remain tough on nonproliferation objectives
  • Wonders whether Iran is even in a position to endorse a Mideast NWFZ


  • Believes the Mideast NWFZ will likely be dealt with at the end of the conference, and the Arab League recognizes that Israel’s nuclear capability cannot be dealt with overnight
  • Does not want to see further exemptions made for countries outside the NPT at the Nuclear Suppliers Group
  • Believes the conference should not backslide from previous conference decisions


  • Thinks a final document should set an agenda for the next few years, devote balance to all three pillars, and acknowledge that parallel moves on all pillars will be the only way to move ahead
  • Views with moderate optimism the possibility for reaching a balanced document
  • Considers Iran unwilling to be “named and shamed” at the conference, or singled out over preventing discussion on Article X
  • Notes that the “Obama factor” has inspired the conference, and many are amazed at how well the beginning of the conference has gone


  • Believes it is key that language on the Additional Protocol and withdrawal from the treaty be included in a final document
  • Views UN Resolution 1887 as offering potential language usable in a final document


Selected conference opening statements and key points:

International Atomic Energy Agency, Director General Yukiya Amano

  • By 2030, 10-25 new countries will introduce nuclear power
  • Agency is unable to verify activities are of a peaceful nature in Iran and Syria
  • Additional Protocol allows Agency to provide “credible assurances” of non diversion and no undeclared activities, urges states to bring into force

United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

  • Recognizes U.S. responsibility as nuclear weapon state to move toward disarmament, says it will do its part
  • Committed to ratifying CTBT, ready to start negotiations on a FMCT
  • Will sign legally binding assurance of non-use of nuclear weapons against Africa, South Pacific nuclear weapon free zones
  • Committed to a Middle East weapons of mass destruction free zone
  • Will make public number of U.S. nuclear weapons
  • Commits $50 million to IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, seeks matching donation
  • Seeks tightened controls on transshipment, restrictions on transfers of sensitive technology
  • Wants accountability from states withdrawing from the NPT

Australia, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith

  • Package of disarmament and nonproliferation measures, submitted with Japan, could help achieve consensus for new agreements
  • Additional Protocol with comprehensive safeguards agreement should be basic verification standard, should be condition of supply of nuclear materials
  • UN Security Council should address, if necessary, issues of noncompliance and withdrawal
  • Supports implementation of 1995 Resolution on the Middle East

Norway, State Secretary Gry Larsen

  • Need to strengthen commitments to NPT, set new forward looking agenda
  • Nuclear weapon states should refrain from developing new types of nuclear weapons, pursue disarmament transparently
  • Negative security assurances should be strengthened
  • Supports creation of new nuclear weapon free zones and Middle East zone
  • Should negotiate FMCT elsewhere if Conference on Disarmament fails negotiate a treaty

P-5, Director Anatoly I. Antonov, Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation (on behalf of)

  • Reaffirm Article VI obligations to work toward disarmament
  • Continue to seek ratification of CTBT, will continue to observe moratoria on nuclear tests
  • Believe comprehensive safeguards agreements with additional protocol should become universally recognized verification norm
  • Should have noncompliance brought to Security Council as necessary
  • Committed to full implementation of Middle East resolution
  • Welcome and join Obama’s effort to secure all nuclear materials in four years
  • Call for state parties to be held responsible for violations of Treaty committed prior to withdrawal
  • Welcome discussion of modalities for responding to withdrawal, such as disposition of equipment and materials acquired while a member state

See all country statements at the UN Review Conference 2010 website.


Remarks by officials:

Power Point slides from presentation entitled “U.S. Commitment to Disarmament,” U.S. delegation briefing by Thomas D’Agostino, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, NPT Review Conference, New York City, May 5, 2010.


News Round-up from Week 1 of the conference:

“After Opening Speeches, NPT Review Conference Gets Down to Business,” Xinhua, May 7, 2010.

“Some Activists Losing Faith in Obama Nuclear Weapons Agenda,” Global Security Newswire, May 7, 2010.

“Turkey Urges More Support for UN Atomic Watchdog,” Xinhua, May 7, 2010.

“Chile Urges Consensus at NPT Review Conference,” Xinhua, May 7, 2010.

“U.S. Joins UN Council at Iran Dinner in New York,” Reuters, May 6, 2010.

“Egypt Says Big Powers Discussing Nuclear-Free Mideast Plan,” May 6, 2010.

“‘The 5’ Favor Concrete Steps to Nuke-Free Mideast,” Associated Press, May 6, 2010.

“Iran, DPRK Urged to Respond to World Concerns for Proper Nuclear Issue Solutions,” Xinhua, May 6, 2010.

“Indonesia to Ratify UN-Backed Pact Banning Nuclear Testing,” Bernama, May 5, 2010.

“Russia Seen Under Pressure to Disclose Arsenal Details,” Global Security Newswire, May 5, 2010.

“Germany Calls for Global Nuclear Disarmament, Including NATO,” Xinhua, May 5, 2010.

“Ukraine Demands Security Assurances for Renouncing Atomic Arsenals,” Xinhua, May 5, 2010.

“U.S., British, French Delegations Walk Out of UN General Assembly Hall,” RIA Novosti, May 5, 2010.

“China Pledges Restraint in Developing Nuclear Weapons,” Agence France Presse, May 4, 2010.

“UN Chief Calls on Iran to Restore Trust with International Community,” Xinhua, May 4, 2010.

“Europe Lacks Plan on Nuclear Arms,” New York Times, May 3, 2010.

“Clinton, Pentagon Reveal State Secret: Size of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal,” ABC News, May 3, 2010.

“Iranian President Rails Against West at NPT Conference,” Voice of America News.com, May 3, 2010.

“NPT Nations Gather to ‘Recommit Vows’ to Treaty,” Associated Press, May 2, 2010.

“U.S. Pushing to Deter a Mideast Nuclear Race,” New York Times, May 2, 2010.

“UN Conference on Nuclear Proliferation a Big Test for Obama,” Christian Science Monitor, May 1, 2010.


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