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Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

An Unequivocal Success? Implications of the NPT Review Conference

July/August 2000

By Tariq Rauf

For the first time in the 30-year history of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), states-parties adopted by consensus a fully negotiated final document calling for an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons and establishing agreed practical steps for further progress in nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.1 Comprising more than 150 paragraphs and covering all aspects of the NPT, as well as certain regional issues and the strengthened review process, the final document represents the collective word of the 187 states-parties regarding the future of the NPT.

The review conference was the first since the historic 1995 NPT review and extension conference, which extended the treaty indefinitely while committing states-parties to a strengthened review process, "principles and objectives" for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, and a resolution on the Middle East. The lack of arms control progress made during the review period (1995-2000) had engendered fears of a failed 2000 conference with all the attendant consequences for sustaining the NPT system. Among the negative developments were three failed Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) sessions in 1997, 1998, and 1999; a standstill in the U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear reduction process; the implications of U.S. missile defense plans; the stalemate at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD); the May 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan; the failure of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to enter into force; and the reaffirmation of nuclear weapons doctrines, as well as domestic opposition to nuclear arms reductions, in the United States and Russia.

The conference's principal task was to review the implementation of the NPT and its operation since the 1995 review conference, taking into account the decisions and resolution adopted by that conference. It also endeavoured to search for ways to break the current arms control impasse by identifying benchmarks and objectives for the 2000-2005 period, including substantive practical steps for nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, safeguards and export controls, peaceful nuclear cooperation, universal adherence to the treaty, and further strengthening the review process.

In this the conference succeeded, producing a document that reviewed the 1995-2000 period and listed "practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts" to implement the NPT's nuclear disarmament obligations, as well as measures pertaining to the treaty's non-proliferation and safeguards obligations. As a result, the 2000 NPT review conference has been widely hailed as a major development, constituting a boost to the global arms control and non-proliferation process at the start of the new century. Coming in the aftermath of the body blow delivered to the NPT regime by the South Asian nuclear tests, the conference successfully reaffirmed the treaty's crucial significance for nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and international cooperation for the peaceful uses of the atom.

However, the final document was achieved only because deep differences between states on several crucial matters were papered over—issues such as missile defense, nuclear doctrines, and treaty compliance. The document's successful conclusion was also aided by the inclusion of language that was sufficiently ambiguous to enable all sides to claim victory.

Despite the conference's relative success, therefore, the prognosis remains bleak for implementation of the agreed practical steps for nuclear disarmament during the next five-year review period. Indeed, at the Conference on Disarmament, the nuclear-weapon states (NWS) have already started to retreat from the flexible positions they displayed at the conference toward more rigid ones. This backtracking and intransigence could create more problems over the next five years than it has in the past because there are now officially sanctioned benchmarks by which to measure the nuclear-weapon states' progress on disarmament.


The Conference

The important issues that were successfully addressed at the conference include nuclear disarmament, treaty compliance and universality, and the effectiveness of the strengthened review process. These issues provided plenty of fodder for disagreement that could have derailed the conference, but still the conference managed to reach consensus on both a backward-looking review and forward-looking recommendations. Determining the viability and longevity of the solutions requires analyzing how the states-parties reached compromise on these major issues. Nuclear Disarmament

Article VI of the NPT, which contains the treaty's nuclear disarmament obligations, has been the make-or-break issue at all previous review conferences because the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) fundamentally disagree over the pace and extent of nuclear arms reductions and over Article VI's linkage of nuclear disarmament with general and complete disarmament.

At the 1995 review conference, the states party to the NPT had agreed to a three-part program of action on the full realization and effective implementation of Article VI. It included conclusion of a CTBT before the end of 1996; immediate commencement of negotiations at the CD on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; and pursuit of "progressive and systematic efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons," as well as pursuit of general and complete disarmament.

At the 2000 conference, frustration among the NNWS concerning disarmament was at its highest in many years because of the lack of progress in arms control during the review period. In addition, the three 1997-1999 sessions of the PrepCom had all witnessed inconclusive and acrimonious debate on nuclear disarmament, resulting in an exacerbation of the differences between the nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states, effectively poisoning the atmosphere for the review conference. It is therefore not surprising that nuclear disarmament was the most important item of work before the states-parties when they convened on April 24 for the conference's opening.

In the lead-up to the review conference, several CD delegations had actively but inconclusively debated behind the scenes on the merits of a 2000 version, or update, of the 1995 "principles and objectives" for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. At the beginning of the review conference itself, states and groups of states presented specific proposals on nuclear disarmament. Some common themes emerged in the views expressed by the NNWS, including concern over the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, delay in the CTBT's entry into force, continuing deadlock at the CD, the lack of transparency in the nuclear-weapon states' nuclear arsenals, an absence of legally binding negative security assurances from the NWS, the lack of a mechanism within the CD for substantive discussion on nuclear disarmament, and concern over non-strategic nuclear weapons not yet being a part of any formal control or reduction arrangement.

Among the NNWS, the New Agenda Coalition (NAC)—a grouping of states that cuts across traditional regional associations and includes Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden—presented the most far-reaching proposition on nuclear disarmament. The coalition proposed identifying "areas in which" and "means through which" future progress should be sought on nuclear disarmament.2 This proposal drew from New Agenda Coalition-sponsored UN General Assembly resolutions in 1998 and 1999 that had garnered the support of well over 100 countries.3 A key demand of the coalition was for the NWS to "make an unequivocal undertaking" to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals and to "engage in an accelerated process of negotiations" during the upcoming 2000-2005 review period.

In addition, the coalition called for early and interim steps: including, adaptation of nuclear postures to preclude the use of nuclear weapons; dealerting and removal of warheads from delivery vehicles; reductions in tactical nuclear weapons leading to their elimination; greater transparency with regard to nuclear arsenals and fissile material inventories; and irreversibility in removing excess fissile material from weapons programs and in all nuclear disarmament, nuclear arms reduction, and nuclear arms control measures. They also wanted an appropriate subsidiary body in the CD with a mandate to deal with nuclear disarmament and the rapid negotiation and conclusion of legally binding security assurances for NNWS party to the treaty.

The New Agenda Coalition proposal went far beyond the demands of traditional nuclear disarmament advocates in the Western group—Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and Norway—but was less extreme than the Non-Aligned Movement's (NAM) oft-repeated demand for a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament. The New Agenda Coalition's ambitious and determined stance among the NNWS made it the most credible and effective group for negotiating on nuclear disarmament issues and, for all practical purposes, marginalized the others.

In their statements in the opening plenary session and in Main Committee I, which dealt with nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, the NWS each outlined their views.4 The United States gave an extended description of its nuclear disarmament record and a churlish retort to the demands of the NNWS. It also demanded acknowledgment of the many steps it has taken to reduce nuclear weapons. Russia warned against serious new threats to international security and stability and underlined the significance of maintaining the ABM Treaty as the key element of strategic stability and as an important condition for strategic weapons reductions. Russia also described its efforts at nuclear reductions and outlined an initiative to deal with missile proliferation. For its part, China reiterated its arms control record and warned about missile defenses and the weaponization of outer space. The United Kingdom and France each outlined their unilateral reductions, ratification of the CTBT, moratoria on fissile material production for weapons, and reduced nuclear capabilities and postures. France also cautioned that deploying missile defenses could lead to a breakdown in the strategic equilibrium.

During the 1997 PrepCom, the five nuclear-weapon states had joined together in issuing a common statement on their commitment to the NPT and to its nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, but given the differences that had emerged since then between the United States and Russia and China over missile defense, NATO expansion, and non-UN sanctioned use of force, it was not expected that they would be able to agree to a common statement at the review conference. Indeed, China had informally indicated that it would not support any NWS common statement at the conference. However, France took on the task of coordinating and securing agreement on a NWS common statement.

After difficult negotiations in New York (and in Beijing, Moscow, and Washington), a joint NWS statement was released on May 1.5 The 23-paragraph document covered nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, nuclear-weapon-free zones, nuclear energy, and safeguards. For more than two years, most of the NWS had strenuously resisted any reference to an "unequivocal undertaking" to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as demanded by the New Agenda Coalition. But in a deft move designed to disarm the coalition, the NWS stole the term "unequivocal" and referred to their own "unequivocal commitment" to fulfilling their NPT obligations and to the ultimate goals of a complete elimination of nuclear weapons and general and complete disarmament. The statement also noted that none of the nuclear-weapon states targets nuclear weapons at any other state, and it reiterated their view that, in accordance with the treaty, India and Pakistan do not have the status of nuclear-weapon states. The statement stressed that India and Pakistan should implement UN Security Council Resolution 1172, which was issued in response to the two countries' nuclear tests.

The NWS statement also called for the preservation and strengthening of the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further strategic offensive reductions. With this formulation, the United States mitigated the role that Chinese and Russian opposition to national missile defense could have played at the conference. Furthermore, the statement referred to negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT), but placed it in the context of an agreed work program for the CD. This formulation had the effect of accepting or legitimizing China's position at the CD. (China refuses to agree to a program of work for the CD, a prerequisite for any negotiations, unless the program allows for negotiations on the non-weaponization of space, which the United States opposes.) Many NNWS remained sceptical of the nuclear-weapon states' commitment to making rapid, substantial progress on nuclear disarmament and concluded that the statement was driven by political expediency to seek a successful conclusion to the conference, rather than by a commitment to the disarmament process.

It was under these circumstances regarding different positions and demands on nuclear disarmament that Main Committee I proceeded with reviewing the implementation record under Articles I and II on nuclear proliferation and Article VI—the conference's so-called backward look. In the committee, many countries expressed regret at the U.S. Senate's October 1999 rejection of the CTBT and noted the deleterious implications that U.S. plans to deploy a national missile defense would have for further nuclear arms reductions. All quarters strongly criticized the Indian-Pakistani nuclear tests and called for the implementation of Resolution 1172 and for India and Pakistan not to be recognized as nuclear-weapon states or to be accorded any other status. Israel's nonadherence to the NPT and operation of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities were roundly criticized by the Arab states and the NAM, and was noted by several Western states, with all urging Israel to join the NPT and accept safeguards under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

There was bitter disagreement over the pace and extent of nuclear disarmament during the past five years. While the nuclear-weapon states, excluding China, demanded due recognition of their nuclear arms reductions, the NAM and the New Agenda Coalition pressed for an undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons—a call that was joined by several Western states, including some NATO members. China and Russia conditioned their acceptance of any new disarmament and transparency measures on the continued viability of the ABM Treaty, and the NAM recalled the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and its unanimous finding regarding the obligation to pursue and to conclude negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Discussion and negotiation on practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts on nuclear disarmament—the conference's so-called forward look—took place in Subsidiary Body 1, which divided its work into two parts. One dealt with completion of unfinished business (such as the entry into force of the CTBT, negotiation of a FMCT, and completion of the START process), and the other addressed further measures and steps to be taken toward nuclear disarmament.

After producing previous drafts, on May 11, the subsidiary body submitted—in the words of its chair, Ambassador Clive Pearson of New Zealand—a "finely balanced" 17-paragraph draft document to Main Committee I for consideration. It called for the CTBT's early entry into force, a moratorium on all nuclear explosions pending the treaty's entry into force, negotiation in the CD of a fissile material cutoff treaty, agreement in the CD on a program of work, and for a subsidiary body in the CD with a mandate to deal with nuclear disarmament.

The document also called upon the NWS to bring about the entry into force and full implementation of START II, early conclusion of START III, the preservation and strengthening of the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further strategic offensive weapons reductions, increased transparency in nuclear arsenals and fissile material inventories, annual reports under the strengthened review process on the implementation of Article VI and the 1995 program of action, further reductions in tactical nuclear weapons leading to their total elimination, dealerting and deactivation of nuclear weapons systems, a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies, engagement of all five nuclear-weapon states in a process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, further development of verification capabilities to monitor nuclear disarmament, and an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons and to engage in accelerated negotiations during the 2000-2005 period. At Russia's insistence, there was no less than four references to strategic stability, each conditioning an action item.

While Subsidiary Body I's draft report,6 which drew heavily from the NAC working paper on nuclear disarmament, became the operational document for further negotiation on a forward look, Main Committee I's report on a backward look remained mired in disagreement. As the pace and intensity of negotiations picked up to resolve differences, Russia and China continued to express their opposition to national missile defense by conditioning action items on the maintenance of "strategic stability."

China expressed reservation about greater transparency on nuclear weapons and promoted no first use, while the United States, Russia, and France resisted further measures on nuclear disarmament and the United Kingdom opposed the reference to the 2000-2005 time frame. Reportedly, the nuclear-weapon states, minus China, objected to the reference to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish nuclear disarmament and rejected a call (targeted at subcritical experiments) suggesting that a purpose of the CTBT is to prevent the further development of nuclear weapons. Apparently, this resistance continued even after direct references were made to statements the nuclear-weapon states had made to the contrary at the CD in 1996 during the CTBT negotiations.7 The NWS prevailed in rejecting any such reference.

After further protracted negotiations on subsequent drafts, a revised version of the Subsidiary Body 1 paper, negotiated between the NWS and the NAC, was discussed on May 16 in a special forum of more than 35 countries convened by the conference president. Some NATO members complained that in the course of negotiations following the earlier drafts, the text had become too watered down with regard to transparency, FMCT negotiations, and non-strategic nuclear weapons. Some of the NWS argued among themselves and also with the NNWS on strategic stability, tactical nuclear weapons, transparency, and an "unequivocal undertaking" on nuclear disarmament. The New Agenda Coalition and the NAM continued to object to the conditions that references to strategic stability effectively placed on the nuclear-weapon states' commitment to implementing disarmament measures.

In effect, the major contention became the nuclear-weapon states' refusal to accept operational measures to reduce nuclear weapons and increase transparency and accountability unless there were escape clauses referring to strategic stability and undiminished security. These became buzz words for the perceived right of the NWS to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely and to undertake nuclear arms reductions at a level, pace, and context determined solely by them, irrespective of their NPT obligations, their commitments made in 1995 to secure the treaty's indefinite extension, and the International Court of Justice's 1996 opinion. On the other side were the non-nuclear-weapon states, led by the New Agenda Coalition, with supporting roles played by the NAM, the NATO-5 (an informal group comprised of Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway), and several individual countries. They demanded rapid progress in nuclear arms reductions as well as increased transparency involving all five nuclear-weapon states, early implementation of agreed treaties, and the preservation of the integrity of treaties already in force.

Given the lack of progress in resolving outstanding differences in Main Committee I and Subsidiary Body 1, a series of private, behind-the-scenes meetings involving the five nuclear-weapon states and the seven members of the New Agenda Coalition was organized during the last part of the conference's final week. This interaction began with an attempt to hammer out differences over the report of Main Committee I (the backward look), but the meetings were soon extended to include the report of Subsidiary Body 1 (the forward look). Norway was asked to moderate these negotiations between "the 12," but its role was limited to serving simply as a chair and identifying speakers from the NWS and NAC. Reportedly, Canada was invited to sit in as an observer, since the notion of a NWS-NAC direct interaction had first been proposed during a Canadian luncheon. Later on, the Netherlands (as a member of the NATO-5) and Indonesia (in its role as the NAM's coordinator on disarmament) also participated as observers.

After prolonged negotiations between the nuclear-weapon states and the New Agenda Coalition—as well as two consultative sessions organized by the conference president—deep differences still separated the two sides. However, after a late night of negotiation on May 16, Russia reversed its position on the following day and accepted the package of steps identified in the May 16 draft of the forward look on nuclear disarmament, despite serious misgivings about the future of the ABM Treaty and the nuclear arms reduction process. In its acceptance, Russia strongly emphasized the references to the importance of the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further nuclear weapons reductions, the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in a way that promotes international stability, and the principle of undiminished security as governing its future actions in the field.

Russia's acceptance in turn forced the hand of France, which had been holding out against adopting commitments on future steps because it felt that it had undertaken more far-reaching measures than the other nuclear-weapon states, including, for example, the closure of its national test site and fissile material production facilities for nuclear weapons purposes. France protected its position by noting that the commitment to an "unequivocal undertaking" was in the context of the "checks and balances" of Article VI.

Given that both the United States and the United Kingdom had earlier expressed their preference for accepting the renegotiated compromise text, China was left as the only nuclear-weapon state unprepared to join the agreement. China's concerns related to the call for increased transparency in nuclear weapons capabilities and the lack of any reference to no first use of nuclear weapons, but after some small changes to the proposed language—such as the inclusion of the term "as a voluntary confidence-building measure" in reference to transparency measures—it too accepted the text because it did not want to shoulder the blame for a failed conference. The reformulated product of Subsidiary Body 1 was agreed in principle on May 17 and following further negotiated revisions, ended up as paragraph 15 under Article VI in the final document once all the other states accepted it.

This agreement between the nuclear-weapon states and the New Agenda Coalition was hailed as a watershed in the life of the conference because it brought agreement on a final document within the realm of possibility. The New Agenda Coalition declared the agreement a major accomplishment because they had prevailed in getting the NWS to accept an "unequivocal undertaking" to the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals and several operational measures regarding their nuclear capabilities.

Other states were not as jubilant. Several expressed their discomfort at a process whereby 12 countries had negotiated the forward look and its practical steps without transparency or consultation. They also correctly observed that the New Agenda Coalition had greatly weakened its own demands by accepting compromises on FMCT negotiations, which were conditioned by references to an agreed work program at the CD. The New Agenda Coalition had also agreed to drop references to concluding FMCT and accelerating nuclear disarmament negotiations during the 2000-2005 period as well as a call for a moratorium on producing fissile material. Dissatisfied states also noted that the "unequivocal undertaking" on nuclear disarmament was conditioned by Article VI and thus, according to the nuclear-weapon states' interpretation, to general and complete disarmament.

In sum, the 15 paragraphs under Article VI in the final document represent a high watermark in the history of the NPT; for the first time, the nuclear-weapon states accepted a series of specific practical steps for nuclear disarmament leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Despite its weaknesses and compromises, such as the lack of any time frame, this text played a crucial role in ensuring the success of the review conference.

Once it was realized that agreement would be reached on the forward look, reacting to pressure from the conference president and driven by a motivation that agreement on a final document might be within reach, states quickly reached the necessary compromises on a 14-paragraph backward look for the report of Main Committee I. This review noted that despite achievements in nuclear arms reductions, many thousands of nuclear weapons still remained deployed or stockpiled; welcomed the signing of the CTBT and its ratifications to date; noted the UN secretary-general's proposal to convene an international conference on eliminating nuclear dangers; and noted the 1996 advisory opinion of the ICJ, among other issues. However, it remained silent on the nuclear tests conducted by China and France in 1995 and 1996, the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, and the fact that the 1995 program of action had still not been fulfilled.

As Ambassador Abdallah Baali (Algeria), the conference president) noted in his concluding statement: "Our results may not appear commensurate with the magnitude of the tasks and challenges facing us and the expectations of the international community. However, these results must be seen against the background of the prevailing political circumstances."

Regional Issues

During the entire PrepCom process, the Arab states and the NAM had pressed for the implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. At the last session of the PrepCom, Egypt and its Arab allies had pushed for the establishment of a subsidiary body at the review conference to address this resolution. On the eve of the conference and after sustained opposition, the United States finally agreed.

The mandate for the entity, dubbed Subsidiary Body 2, was accepted on April 24 but reflected a compromise and was therefore convoluted. Reportedly, the United States had argued that any consideration of the Middle East resolution also had to include consideration of non compliance issues, meaning Iraq's former weapons of mass destruction programs, while Egypt wanted to limit the body's sphere of activity to Israel. In the end, it was agreed that two of the subsidiary body's four sessions would focus on the Middle East, one would deal with other regions, and the last would finalize the body's report.

The objective of Egypt and its allies was to secure a clear and direct reference to the non-accession of Israel to the NPT, to the existence of its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, and to the consequent threat posed to the region, as well as the lack of progress in achieving a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. On the other side, the United States wanted to secure a clear reference to Iraq's continuing noncompliance with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 687 and IAEA safeguards. The United States was reportedly prepared to accept a call on Israel to join the NPT and conclude IAEA safeguards, but it insisted on a reference to Iraq's non compliance. It also wanted to list by name all states in the region that had yet to conclude safeguards agreements with the IAEA. The Arab states were interested only in referring to Israel by name and reportedly told the United States that it was responsible for finding language on Iraq that was acceptable to all, including Baghdad.

Other states such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and South Africa were interested in securing a strong call on India and Pakistan to abide by Resolution 1172 and to implement a series of confidence-building measures, including moratoria on further testing and fissile material production for weapons. South Korea and the United States wanted a reference to North Korea, but given the upcoming North-South summit, Seoul was not interested in pushing for strong language.

Chaired by Canada, Subsidiary Body 2 considered several drafts of a deftly constructed text that tried to reach a delicate balance between references to Israel and Iraq and South Asia. Paragraphs referring to a mechanism to monitor implementation of the 1995 Middle East resolution were highly contentious.

By May 16, compromise text was available on all aspects of the subsidiary body's mandate except for references to Israel's accession to the NPT, a mechanism for the implementation of the Middle East resolution, and Iraq's compliance. By May 19, the subsidiary body had agreed to language for all these issues expect the reference to Iraq. But this remaining dispute was of crucial importance—the United States would not accept the reference to Israel without text on Iraq.

A U.S.-Iraqi standoff ensued, focusing on how to characterize Baghdad's activities. The United States regarded Iraq as a noncompliant state that had forfeited its right to participate in NPT review negotiations until it resumed full and continuous compliance with its obligations under Resolution 687 and IAEA safeguards. On the other side, Iraq wanted favorable references to the January 2000 IAEA inspection it had allowed and did not want any reference to Resolution 687. This issue had come up earlier, when the Arab states, China, France, and Russia had argued that safeguards-compliance issues should be taken up in Main Committee II, which dealt with safeguards and nuclear-weapon-free zones. The United States responded that it preferred discussion of noncompliance both in the main committee and in the subsidiary body. In the end, the conference president ruled that both forums would consider the matter.

By 10 minutes to midnight on May 19, the last scheduled day of the conference, the dispute had not yet been resolved, so the clock was stopped and further consultations went on to settle the deadlock. (The stratagem of stopping the clock at the last minute of the official final day is a well-known diplomatic device to provide a few extra hours or even days to conclude negotiations and reach last-minute compromises in multilateral conferences.) The problem was reportedly further complicated by the United States' refusal to talk directly with Iraq, which necessitated "proximity talks." These involved the Subsidiary Body 2 chairman relaying messages and drafts between the two adversaries. Unconfirmed reports circulated that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had called upon her Russian and French counterparts to pressure Baghdad into backing down.

Just prior to 4:30 a.m. on May 20, when it appeared that the conference would not be able to break the deadlock, a last-gasp draft prepared by Canada was reportedly relayed to Iraq and was surprisingly accepted. The conference president had apparently convinced Iraq that it was truly isolated and had made its point, thus weakening its resistance to compromise.

Following Iraq's acceptance, the pressure was on the United States to accept the revised text as well and thus enable the conference to adopt its reports. Given the continuing stalemate at this late hour and remaining ignorant of recent developments, several Western ambassadors reportedly announced their intention to call it quits and return to Geneva. However, the NAM, aware that Iraq had accepted the new text, proposed adjourning until 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. In the end, the small group of Western ambassadors wanting to rush back to the "hectic action" at the CD compromised and the conference adjourned, but not before some ill-considered proposals were reportedly made to the president. Some states, including a New Agenda Coalition member, wanted the president to ram through a decision on the conference report, even in the face of a lack of consensus, or to call a snap vote (in the belief that Iraq was totally isolated). Fortunately, the president rejected all these misguided proposals and held out for a consensus report.

Under pressure not to allow the conference to fail, and perhaps to counter allegations in some quarters that it had never been serious about accepting the nuclear disarmament commitments and that it wanted to scupper the results using Iraq as a scapegoat, the United States eventually agreed to a slightly modified version of the latest draft text on Iraq, following high-level intervention from Washington. In the end, the United States prevailed in deleting a reference to "the full cooperation of Iraq" with respect to the IAEA's January 2000 inspection of nuclear material in that country, and in inserting a reference to Iraq's lack of compliance with its obligations under Resolution 687.

At noon on May 20, this final compromise fell into place, enabling the Subsidiary Body 2 chairman to announce agreement on his group's report to a hushed NPT membership gathered in the UN General Assembly Hall. Agreement on Subsidiary Body 2's report allowed the NPT parties to call on Israel by name to join the treaty for the first time in the NPT's history, meaning that Israel, along with India and Pakistan, will be regularly urged to join the global non-proliferation norm at future NPT meetings. It may also signal the beginning of the end of the United States and other Western states' amnesia concerning Israeli participation in the NPT and other nuclear arms control forums. On the other hand, unlike the calls on India and Pakistan, Israel was not enjoined to refrain from further production of fissile material for weapons or ballistic missile tests.

Strengthened Review Process

A key decision adopted by the 1995 review conference was to strengthen the treaty's review process. This was accomplished by giving the Preparatory Committee a mandate to focus on substantive matters and make recommendations to the review conference on principles, objectives, and ways of promoting the NPT's full implementation, in addition to completing procedural arrangements. While completing practically all of the review conference's procedural arrangements, the 1997-1999 PrepCom sessions failed to agree on any substantive recommendations. Some non-nuclear-weapon states accused the nuclear-weapon states of deliberately obstructing the full realization of the strengthened review process, while the NWS maintained that the NNWS had harbored unrealistic expectations.

Given the growing sense of frustration among some non-nuclear-weapon states regarding the failure of the strengthened review process, a number of NNWS expressed concern during the conference. Several common themes were discernible in the papers of Australia, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, and Norway. For example, all shared a commitment to enhancing accountability by reinforcing the strengthened review process. Australia, Canada, and Japan also argued that it was unacceptable for the PrepCom to have been unable to comment on events affecting the treaty's purpose, such as the 1998 South Asian nuclear tests.

Several states tabled proposals on the strengthened review process. Canada, the Netherlands, and Norway suggested holding a PrepCom in each of the four years between the five-year review conferences, with a view to promoting continuous monitoring of the treaty's implementation and the outcomes of the 1995 conference. Ireland proposed holding an annual conference of states-parties, instead of PrepComs, that would meet for a period of four days. Nigeria wanted a "management board" to serve as a permanent secretariat for the treaty, and Iran proposed a "compliance monitoring mechanism." China argued that the 1995 decision on the strengthened review covered only the years 1995 to 2000, but it did not push this interpretation further when it received no endorsement.

In the end, the conference reaffirmed, clarified, and enhanced the mandate of the PrepCom. It decided that the first two sessions of the PrepCom (starting in 2002) would be able to consider specific substantive matters relating to the treaty's implementation, the strengthened review process, the 1995 "principles and objectives," and the Resolution on the Middle East. These first two sessions, as well as following sessions, will also consider "the outcomes of subsequent Review Conferences [such as the final document of the 2000 conference], including developments affecting the operation and purpose of the Treaty."

The final document mandates that "consideration of the issues" at each PrepCom session should be factually summarized and the results transmitted in a report to the next session for further discussion. The conference decided that at its third or, if appropriate, fourth session, the PrepCom should "make every effort to produce a consensus report containing recommendations to the review conference." The PrepCom sessions can also allocate specific time to address relevant issues, and the review conference can establish subsidiary bodies for the same purpose. In addition, nongovernmental organizations will be allocated a meeting at each PrepCom session and review conference to address states-parties. Furthermore, the final document requires the PrepCom to consider reports on the implementation of Article VI and paragraph 4(c) of the "principles and objectives," both of which deal with nuclear disarmament. The final document also requires consideration of reports on steps undertaken by states-parties to promote "a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction" and the realization of the 1995 Middle East resolution.



A number of factors came into play to allow the conference parties, which held varying and diverse views, to compromise and successfully conclude a consensus document. Once such factor was the commitment and unrelenting confidence and optimism of Conference President Baali. By securing agreement on divisive procedural issues, such as convening subsidiary bodies prior to the start of the conference, by stipulating the number of committee and subsidiary body meetings, and by setting an early deadline for the submission of draft reports, the conference president ensured that enough time would be available in the final week to hammer out the final compromises on seemingly intractable issues.

Baali's seeming lack of experience in the nuclear field also helped him push issues and players during the conference. Lacking baggage in the field, Baali was more inclined to push for outcomes without preferences for one over another.

Furthermore, the president's advance consultations and preparations, consultations during the conference itself, together with openness and transparency, strengthened his hand in letting the committee chairs continue with their efforts to seek consensus. By avoiding traditional presidential-sanctioned back-room negotiations involving a few countries working on the final products, Baali maintained the confidence of the conference and forced the hardliners to expose and play their hands in the open. Finally, the president did not give up even in the face of stubborn deadlock, and in the end, his efforts were rewarded as states, seeing a final document within reach, gave in and made the final necessary compromises.

The efforts of the chairs of the main committees and subsidiary bodies were also instrumental in achieving success. Of these, Canada's Ambassador Christopher Westdal, chairman of Subsidiary Body 2, was the most indefatigable, determined and patient, persevering until the very end to secure a breakthrough. By mid-morning on May 19, the fate of the conference rested in his hands in terms of resolving the deadlock between the United States and Iraq. Despite some pressure from frustrated delegates late into that night, Westdal prevailed in his efforts and ultimately succeeded in brokering the compromise that allowed the few other unresolved pieces to fall into place, thus enabling the conference to adopt its hard-won final document. Ambassador Clive Pearson of New Zealand, Subsidiary Body I's chairman, also played a crucial role. He guided his group through its forward-look on nuclear disarmament, and after several long and arduous meetings, was able to craft a "finely balanced" document that provided the basis for the NWS-New Agenda Coalition compromise.

After achieving their major goals, states showed flexibility that also played a key role in the conference's success. Once an internal compromise had been struck on the controversial issues of U.S. national missile defense plans and the CD's work program, none of the nuclear-weapon states wanted to carry the blame for a failed conference. The U.S. delegation came to the conference well prepared and apparently ready to show greater flexibility than it had during the PrepCom sessions. The compromise it struck with Russia and China allowed it to successfully meet its principal goal of deflecting attention from the missile defense issue. The United States also demonstrated unusual flexibility and pragmatism on the question of the Middle East.

Having recently ratified START II and the CTBT, Russia was not interested in bringing down the conference on missile defense or nuclear disarmament once its positions had been protected. Similarly, China did not want to be isolated among the NWS by holding out against transparency or missile defense. Since it achieved the compromise text that it wanted, it too joined in the consensus. The United Kingdom and France wanted to be recognized for their various unilateral measures and CTBT ratifications and therefore did not oppose the compromises achieved.

Among the non-nuclear-weapon states, the New Agenda Coalition greatly compromised its positions until it succeeded in reaching agreement with the NWS on nuclear disarmament matters. This compromise resulted in success beyond the coalition's wildest dreams, as it secured agreement on "practical steps" and an "unequivocal undertaking" toward nuclear disarmament, and ensured that the NAC states would push for a successful outcome. The Arab states achieved their goals of having Israel named and requiring a reporting mechanism for progress on the implementation of the Resolution on the Middle East, and thus they too did not want a failed conference. Finally, the vast majority of the NNWS wanted a successful outcome as the agreed "practical steps" went beyond what they thought was achievable at the beginning of the conference.

The lone Iraqi ambassador also played a crucial role, though he protected his country's position until the very end and resisted heavy pressure. However, he had much to lose by infuriating the NPT membership with a failed conference, and so he too compromised.

The efforts of the conference officials and the flexibility shown by the states-parties allowed for a number of achievements. The 2000 conference successfully reaffirmed the primacy of the NPT in the global effort to curtail nuclear proliferation and to achieve nuclear disarmament. It also demonstrated the power of the concept of "permanence with accountability" and of the strengthened review process. The members of the treaty were united in opposing challenges to the regime posed by India, Israel, and Pakistan as nonadherents, and by North Korea and Iraq in terms of their compliance deficits. Most importantly, the practical steps for "systematic and progressive" efforts on nuclear disarmament that were agreed to could serve as a new agenda for action in the Conference on Disarmament and the UN General Assembly.

In addition, the final document contains well over 100 paragraphs dealing with other aspects of the treaty, such as strengthened safeguards,, compliance, the authority of the IAEA in implementing safeguards and technical assistance cooperation, effective physical protection of all nuclear material, the highest possible standards of nuclear safety, efficacy of and transparency in export controls, the safe transport of radioactive materials, radiological protection and radioactive waste management, conversion of military nuclear materials to peaceful uses, nuclear-weapon-free zones, non-recognition of any new nuclear-weapon states, and universal adherence to the treaty.

Unfortunately, recent developments within and outside the CD suggest that the nuclear-weapon states already seem to be backing away from implementation of the "practical steps," leading to growing suspicion among both NPT parties and non-parties that the NWS agreed to the steps out of political convenience rather than out of a commitment to the NPT's disarmament obligations. Both Russia and China have indicated at the CD that addressing the weaponization of outer space—a possibility that could result from U.S. missile defense deployments—is their principal priority and must be a part of the CD's work program. Apparently, France has indicated that the "practical steps" need to be considered in terms of the conditions noted in the text and that a FMCT, not nuclear disarmament, is its priority. The CD, therefore, remains deadlocked.

Reportedly, the United States is willing to commence FMCT negotiations immediately and may be prepared to have discussions on nuclear disarmament, but it remains opposed to actual negotiations on the weaponization of outer space. Instead, it is continuing with its controversial national missile defense development and testing program despite warnings not only from Russia and China, but also from many of its closest allies, regarding the negative implications for nuclear disarmament and a possible new nuclear arms race. Given the highly charged missile defense debate during the presidential campaign in the United States, it is unlikely that the outgoing Clinton administration will undertake new arms control initiatives during its last six months in office. Nor is it likely that a future Republican president will abandon the idea of national missile defense. Thus, instead of demonstrating leadership, the United States will probably remain in a status quo mode, slowing progress in the implementation of START II and the negotiation of START III, as well as lowering the chances of breaking the logjam at the CD.

For many, if not most, of the non-nuclear-weapon states, the "practical steps" agreed to at the 2000 review conference provided benchmarks by which to measure the nuclear-weapon states' progress in living up to their disarmament obligations under the NPT. However, these steps also papered over deep differences on missile defenses, the ABM Treaty, and nuclear disarmament measures. Confidence in the continuing integrity of the NPT will be judged in the context of the NWS fulfilling these steps, and any backtracking will only serve to weaken the world's most successful and most widely adhered to arms control treaty. Given the paltry track record of the NWS and the built-in escape clauses, it is unlikely that the "practical steps" agreed to at this year's NPT review conference will be fulfilled by 2005, and thus the success of the 2000 conference may well have sowed the seeds for the failure of the next review conference. While the compromise reached at the 2000 NPT review conference has been lauded, it is the future actions of both the nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states that will demonstrate whether the conference was an unequivocal success.


Tariq Rauf is director of the International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He has served as an adviser with Canada's delegation to NPT review conferences since 1990. The views expressed are his own.

An Unequivocal Success? Implications of the NPT Review Conference

NPT Review Conference Finds Consensus, Issues Document

June 2000

By Matthew Rice

Defying predictions of gridlock, the states party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) achieved consensus May 19 on a final document for the 2000 NPT review conference, reflecting broad compromise on the issues of disarmament and universal adherence to the treaty. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the agreement as "a significant step forward in humanity's pursuit of a more peaceful world…free of nuclear dangers."

A consensus document was a "hope" rather than an expectation, as U.S. representative Ambassador Norman Wulf stated April 21. The conference opened with widespread criticism of the slow pace of disarmament measures, including the U.S. Senate's October 1999 rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the UN Conference on Disarmament's (CD) inability to begin negotiations on a fissile material ban, and the failure of START II to enter into force. Non-nuclear-weapon states, joining Russia and China, also expressed great concern over the fate of arms control in the wake of a presumed U.S. decision to deploy a national missile defense system at the expense of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Russian ratification of START II and the CTBT on the eve of the conference did not dull the criticism by non-nuclear-weapon states. The members of the New Agenda Coalition, a group of states demanding faster progress toward disarmament, argued that "the total elimination of nuclear weapons is an obligation and a priority and not an ultimate goal."

While only two of five previous review conferences have produced consensus documents, many observers placed particular importance on reaching a successful conclusion to this conference, which was the first since the treaty's indefinite extension in 1995. Through a long final week of negotiation, the states-parties reached compromise, producing a document that includes stronger language on both disarmament and the Middle East than ever before. (See p. 28.)



While the final document made no commitment to a time frame or specific disarmament measures, the New Agenda Coalition did secure stronger language on disarmament. The five nuclear powers, eager to allay other states-parties' frustration, committed to an "unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals" and acknowledged a "principle of irreversibility."

This was a much stronger formulation than had been accepted at the 1995 conference, at which the nuclear powers agreed to "reaffirm their commitment…to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament." At the 2000 conference, the nuclear-weapon states also committed to reductions in tactical nuclear weapons, "concrete agreed measures to further reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons systems," and a "diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies."

The conference urged, as it did in 1995, the completion of negotiations on a fissile material cut off treaty in the CD within five years. Progress toward this goal has been stymied by the CD's failure to agree on a program of work, primarily because of U.S.-Chinese disagreement over negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. (See p. 27.)

The final document also made brief reference to the ABM Treaty, calling for the preservation and strengthening of the ABM Treaty as a "cornerstone of strategic stability." That the United States, Russia, and China were able to agree appeared to defuse harsh criticism by non-nuclear-weapon states.



As was the case at the 1995 conference, probably the most divisive issue was the question of how the conference would address Israel, which is widely presumed to have a nuclear weapons capability but is not a treaty party. Recalling the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which was a key factor in securing Egyptian accession to the treaty's indefinite extension, the states-parties reiterated their call for Israel to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The 2000 document mentions Israel by name for the first time, but the conference did not sanction further action to encourage Israel's NPT membership, including an Egyptian proposal to appoint an NPT special representative to seek Israeli accession.

The conference also placed special emphasis on the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, lamenting the tests and urging the two states to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states as soon as possible. It also called on India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the CTBT and to sign the fissile material cutoff treaty once it has been completed.

India, which did not attend the conference, rejected such calls in a statement issued to the Indian parliament May 9 by Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh. "The NPT community needs to understand that India cannot join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state. Statements by NPT states-parties about India rolling back its nuclear program are mere diversions to prevent focused attention on the basic goals of the NPT," he said. Pakistan also did not attend the conference.

More than any other issue, a dispute between the United States and Iraq threatened consensus in the waning hours of the conference. The United States demanded that the final document note Iraq's non-compliance with the NPT in the early 1990s along with calls for Israeli, Indian, and Pakistani accession to the NPT. Iraq objected to the U.S.-proposed language, citing recent cooperation with IAEA inspection teams. Only a last-minute compromise softening the language prevented the conference from ending in disarray.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey expressed satisfaction May 25 that the document "reaffirmed clearly and strongly that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is essential now, tomorrow, and always in promoting international peace and security." But even with compromises by the nuclear-weapon states, the document did not go nearly as far as many non-nuclear-weapon states had hoped in terms of a commitment toward further disarmament measures by the nuclear powers.

However, the result was a far cry from many observers' pessimistic predictions at the outset of the meeting. Abdallah Baali, president of the conference, said May 20 that while "the final outcome of this review conference…may be seen as inadequate in view of the challenges before us…it is in my view the best outcome we could have reached under the prevailing conditions."

NPT Review Conference Finds Consensus, Issues Document

NPT Review Conference Opens

May 2000

By Matthew Rice

Marking the first assessment of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) since it was extended indefinitely in 1995, delegates of the treaty's states-parties gathered April 24 at United Nations headquarters in New York to open the 2000 NPT review conference. The four-week conference will address the progress made during the last five years on a number of divisive issues, including nuclear disarmament and universal adherence to the treaty.

Disarmament was the top item on the agenda in the conference's first week, with virtually every country bemoaning the nuclear-weapon states' lack of progress toward meeting their obligations under Article VI of the treaty. That goal was reinforced at the 1995 treaty review and extension conference in a document on "principles and objectives," which called for "systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons."

Progress toward this goal was waylaid largely by Russia's slow ratification of START II and seems hindered by the continued reliance of Russian and NATO military doctrines on nuclear weapons. Matt Robson, New Zealand's minister for disarmament and arms control, said that the nuclear-weapon states "sound too tentative when describing [disarmament] as an 'ultimate goal'" and expressed concern that "nuclear weapons are claimed to be required for security into the 'indefinite' future." New Zealand is a member of the New Agenda Coalition, a group of states that has demanded faster progress toward disarmament.

Disappointment was also expressed concerning the other benchmarks laid out in the "principles and objectives" agreement: completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the start of talks on a treaty halting the production of fissile material for weapons purposes. While the CTBT was completed in 1996, it has yet to enter into force, and the treaty's rejection last fall by the U.S. Senate has called its future into question. Negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty have yet to be started at the Geneva-based UN Conference on Disarmament.

The argument of the nuclear-weapon states, notably the United States and Russia, has been that the START process offers the best path toward the eventual goal of disarmament. This claim was bolstered by the Russian Duma's April 14 approval of START II. "The Russian Duma's recent action on START II undercuts the claim that the bilateral strategic arms reductions process has no future," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said April 24, noting that the United States approved the treaty in 1996.

In addition, Britain and France have taken steps to reduce the size of their nuclear forces. Britain's 1998 Strategic Defense Review substantially reduced its operational nuclear warhead stockpile to under 200 and reduced the warhead load of each strategic missile submarine from 96 to 48. France has also taken steps to eliminate all land-based nuclear forces and to reduce the size of its sea-based nuclear arsenal.

But other parties openly expressed concern that U.S. pursuit of missile defenses at the expense of the ABM Treaty could spell an end to even this slow progress. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sounded a warning that "the growing pressure to deploy national missile defenses…is jeopardizing the ABM Treaty…and could well lead to a new arms race, setbacks for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and create new incentives for missile proliferation."

The United States came under particular fire from Russia and China. "The collapse of the ABM Treaty would…undermine the entirety of disarmament agreements concluded over the last 30 years," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said April 25. Sha Zukang, China's representative to the review conference, said April 24 that U.S. development of a missile defense will "impede the international disarmament process, thus shatter[ing] the basis for international nuclear non-proliferation."

International condemnation of U.S. missile defense plans was not unexpected, though U.S. officials have worked to convince states-parties that the NPT review conference is not an appropriate forum to address the ABM issue. "We are…trying to see if we can find an approach that would allow us to leave our differences on this issue outside the conference room," U.S. representative to the conference Norman Wulf said April 21, expressing hope that the issue would not prove to be "a deal buster at the conference itself."


Universal Adherence

Renewing a controversial debate, Egypt and other Middle East states have demanded that pressure be brought to bear on Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state. Several states, including Brazil, have joined the NPT in the past five years, leaving only four countries—Cuba, India, Israel, and Pakistan—outside the treaty regime.

The 1995 review conference recognized these concerns in its resolution on the Middle East, which called for universal adherence to the treaty in the region and the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. In its opening statement April 25 and a working paper submitted April 28, Egypt restated these concerns, calling for states-parties to exert influence on Israel to accede. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's representative to the conference, argued that universality is required for the continued viability of the treaty. "The NPT cannot have any credibility with the states of the region as long as one state is exempt from its provisions," he said.

But with the 1998 nuclear tests of India and Pakistan, the question of universal adherence has grown, extending beyond the immediate concerns of Israel's neighbors. The United States would like to see a consensus statement that encourages universal participation by all parties, not just Israel. "The United States does not oppose attention in this year's conference to universal adherence in the Middle East, [but] we believe it should be fair and balanced within the region and with other serious issues outside the region," Albright said.


Moving Forward

As the review conference proceeds through the next three weeks, one issue will be whether it can produce a consensus document—a goal only two of the treaty's five review conferences have achieved. Jayantha Dhanapala, UN undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs and president of the 1995 NPT conference, said in an April 19 telephone briefing that the outcome of the 2000 review conference will be an important indicator of the regime's continuing vitality.

"This conference is an extremely important barometer of the level of satisfaction amongst the states-parties with the performance of the treaty. If we, for example, do not have a consensus document, that would imply that there is some malaise within the treaty, and that augurs badly for the future of the treaty," he said.

NPT Review Conference Opens

Politics and Pragmatism: The Challenges for NPT 2000

Lawrence Scheinman

States party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will convene April 24 for the treaty's sixth review conference—the first to take place since the landmark 1995 conference at which the treaty was extended indefinitely. The lack of anticipated progress in nuclear arms control and disarmament since that conference and the setbacks that have occurred, as reflected in the current status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and impending developments in missile defense, have led some analysts to question whether there is any possibility for a positive outcome at the 2000 conference or whether it might even result in disaster.

That perception severely underestimates the role and relevance of the NPT to international security and stability. While rhetoric is likely to be elevated and exchanges heated, the conference will not be a cataclysmic event for the non-proliferation regime. It is, however, a crucial moment for the treaty. NPT members will not only have to deliberate on the issues usually covered in this forum, they will also have to examine how two critical decisions made at the 1995 conference—the strengthening of the treaty review process and the issuance of "principles and objectives"—have fared in the past five years.

The decisions made at the 1995 conference did not impose conditions on indefinite extension, but they did reflect the feeling that with permanence should come full implementation of the treaty in all of its aspects, including not only non-proliferation and peaceful nuclear cooperation, but also the pursuit of negotiations, in good faith, on nuclear disarmament. By 1995, the NPT was already the most successful multilateral arms control agreement ever negotiated, but a significant number of states did not want their support for the principle of indefinite extension to translate into an endorsement of a permanent global division between the five nuclear-weapon states and all the rest. They sought to ensure that the nuclear-weapon states would not confuse treaty permanence with acceptance of the nuclear status quo.

Strengthened review and an elaboration of "principles and objectives" (benchmarks that largely paralleled, but in some cases went beyond, specific treaty provisions) were the means by which the parties collectively sought to reinforce and institutionalize bona fide accountability by all parties while validating the treaty and extending it indefinitely. The underlying assumption was, and remains, that with the end of the Cold War, the rationale for nuclear weapons diminished and along with it any reason not to pursue their ultimate elimination. The strengthened review and "principles and objectives" were complemented by a resolution on the Middle East that underscored the importance of universal adherence to the NPT. In particular, it expressed concern with the continued presence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in the Middle East and called on all states in the region to take practical steps toward establishing a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.

Given the current strain on U.S. relations with Russia and China over possible deployment of missile defense and the questions in some quarters about the depth of U.S. commitment to arms control, there is some concern that the upcoming conference could start the unraveling of the NPT regime. But it is essential to remember that it is in the interests of all members of the NPT, nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states alike, to keep the treaty strong. It is the only international instrument obligating the nuclear-weapon states to pursue nuclear disarmament. The treaty enhances security, allows for verification through international safeguards, and provides a basis for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is unlikely, therefore, that recent negative trends in arms control will overwhelm the conference—the need for a strong NPT transcends differences over specific arms control issues—but even if they do, no state is likely to threaten withdrawal.

The forthcoming review conference will address the full range of issues that habitually appear at these meetings, including compliance, international safeguards, peaceful nuclear cooperation, export controls, nuclear-weapon-free zones, and security assurances. However, three items are certain to occupy more time and attention than the rest: nuclear disarmament, the Middle East resolution and the broader issue of universality, and how to assess the effectiveness of the strengthened review process.

States cannot expect a review conference that results in the dramatic progress of the 1995 meeting, but if they exercise restraint and adhere to certain principles, incremental progress is possible, in spite of the disappointment over the pace of arms control achievements in the last five years.

Nuclear Disarmament

No issue at NPT review conferences has drawn more attention or been more controversial than nuclear disarmament. Divergent views regarding implementation of Article VI provisions on nuclear disarmament account for the failure of three of the five previous conferences to reach agreement on a final conference document, and the issue promises to be at least as contentious at the 2000 conference, if only because even modest expectations for progress following the 1995 conference have not been met.

The "principles and objectives" decision provided guidance on the question of nuclear disarmament. It included a reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states to pursue, in good faith, negotiations on effective measures relating to disarmament, and it identified three items to be achieved in the interest of full realization and effective implementation of Article VI: completion of negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty "no later than 1996"; "immediate commencement and early conclusion" of a convention banning further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and "determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons." This latter formulation implicitly endorsed an incremental approach to nuclear disarmament, acknowledging that disarmament on demand is not tenable and eschewing the appeals of some non-aligned states for a timebound framework.

The period between 1995 and 2000 saw both achievements and disappointments with respect to these items. On the positive side of the ledger, the CTBT negotiations were completed as called for. The treaty opened for signature in 1996, and it presently has 155 signatories, including the five nuclear-weapon states. The pace of U.S. and Russian reductions under START I continued to proceed ahead of schedule, and the number of deployed nuclear weapons steadily diminished. For their part, the United Kingdom and France have taken steps in support of nuclear disarmament by canceling weapons development programs, reducing existing weapons, and increasing transparency.

The United States and Russia also continued their dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons and related weapons facilities. They identified large quantities of nuclear material as being in excess of national security requirements and had it withdrawn from their stockpiles, never to return to use for nuclear weapons. The United States has identified 226 tons of fissile material as excess and committed it to be placed under safeguards, pursuant to its voluntary arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). A Russian storage facility at Mayak is slated to store plutonium removed from dismantled nuclear weapons and will be available for inspection as well. In addition, the United States, Russia, and the IAEA are working to develop a regime allowing the IAEA to verify that such materials remain irreversibly removed from weapons programs. Steady progress in implementing the 1993 agreement for the United States to purchase from Russia blended—down uranium produced from 500 tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium adds importantly to the overall effort to ensure transparency and irreversibility of nuclear reductions.

On the negative side of the ledger, however, are a number of countervailing events. Perhaps the most significant was the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, a development regarded as a major setback not only for the treaty, but for disarmament in general. On the other hand, President Clinton's commitment to continue the U.S. moratorium on testing, the appointment of former General John Shalikashvili to head a task force to address the Senate's concerns with a view to reconsideration, and Congress's decision to fund the CTBT preparatory body provide hope for ratification at a later date. But for the moment, at least, U.S. standing in arms control has been dealt a blow, possibly diminishing its ability to exercise effective leadership at the review conference.

There has also been little progress on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) in the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), largely because of the non-aligned states' efforts to link the beginning of negotiations to including talks on nuclear disarmament in the CD's work program. In the three years since completion of a CTBT, the conference, except for one brief moment at the end of 1998, has been deadlocked, unable to agree on a work program and therefore unable to begin FMCT negotiations. The barriers to progress grew when the start of negotiations was further linked to the establishment of an ad hoc working group on outer space, largely because of China's concern with U.S. missile defense plans. Although at one point it might have been possible to establish ad hoc working groups to address outer space and nuclear disarmament while beginning formal negotiations on a fissile material cutoff, China blocked that option this year by insisting that whatever arrangements apply to one subject should apply to all. Since all of the nuclear-weapon states except China oppose negotiation of nuclear disarmament in the CD and since the United States will not agree to negotiations (as distinct from talks) on outer space, there is presently no way to move forward on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The progress that has been made on nuclear reductions is offset, in the view of many, by the stalled strategic reductions process. START II, signed seven years ago, still awaits action by the Russian Duma, and as a result, negotiations on START III have yet to begin. The impact that this lack of progress could have on the review conference is likely to be magnified by U.S. efforts to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in order to deploy a limited national missile defense system (NMD). The fact that some high-level U.S. officials have threatened withdrawal from the treaty if Russia does not accommodate the changes sought by the United States has also raised questions about the continued level of U.S. commitment to arms control as a means of promoting national security and international stability.

The fact that a decision on whether to deploy a limited national missile defense system depends on considering not only the cost, threat, and technical feasibility, but also strategic factors, including arms control objectives, has not offset concern about the shape and direction of U.S. security policy and its impact on non-proliferation and disarmament objectives. In the view of many, including friends and allies, whereas the CTBT outcome can be explained to some extent by domestic political considerations, the move toward national missile defense at the expense of the ABM Treaty is a self-inflicted wound.

Negotiation with Russia of mutually acceptable adjustments to the ABM Treaty would dampen the effect of U.S. national missile defense plans. Progress in strategic reductions, based on the agreement at the 1997 Helsinki summit, to pursue START III, including a target of 2,000—2,500 deployed warheads and transparency measures related to warhead inventories and destruction, would dramatically enhance international confidence that arms control and disarmament will continue to play a role in national security and international stability. The recent election of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia may increase the prospects of striking an offense-defense deal that breaks the logjam of the past several years and opens the door to further progress in implementing Article VI.

But with the exception of Duma ratification of START II, which could occur soon, none of these things will happen in the few remaining days before the NPT review conference, and both Russia and China (which is perhaps even more affected by the NMD issue) are virtually certain to use the conference as a forum to attack the U.S. national missile defense initiative. It is well to recall that last year Russia, China, and Belarus introduced a resolution in the UN General Assembly aimed at rallying international support for the ABM Treaty and against U.S. attempts to weaken or abrogate the treaty in order to deploy missile defenses. The resolution obtained wide support with only Israel, Albania, and Micronesia joining the United States in opposition.

At stake here is an important consideration: whether outside disputes such as the national missile defense issue should be imported into the NPT review process, or whether, to the extent that such issues affect treaty implementation, the conference should limit itself to noting the issues and urging the parties directly involved to resolve them. While China and Russia will most likely attempt to raise the NMD issue and berate the United States, they should realize that they have little to gain by going beyond sharply worded rhetoric. Holding the conference hostage to external issues will not only fail to resolve the problem at hand, it also has the potential to corrupt the review process and undermine the treaty. Such a result is highly undesirable for all parties involved; and in the end, both China and Russia would benefit more from exercising restraint and preserving the review process's integrity.

One upshot of the frustration resulting from the recent lack of progress in arms control has been the crafting of a new plan of action by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) calling for unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral progress on nuclear disarmament. NAC is notable for the fact that its membership (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden) transcends classical political groupings and brings both moderate and more radical states together on nuclear issues. Their "new agenda" follows earlier proceedings, including a 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which stated that the Article VI obligation to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament includes an obligation to bring those negotiations to conclusion, and the Canberra Commission report of the same year, which called for phased, verified reductions without a timeframe, but endorsed the need for agreed targets and guidelines to drive the process.

The "new agenda" includes a call for re-examining nuclear postures, demating nuclear weapons from delivery vehicles, eliminating tactical nuclear weapons, negotiating a global legally binding negative-security-assurance treaty, and holding a conference on nuclear disarmament. The latter reflects a sense of futility in leaving matters to existing forums, such as the NPT review conferences and the Conference on Disarmament. The coalition has gathered increasing support for the thrust of its agenda—if not for all of the items contained therein—as reflected in a coalition-sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly last year, which won the support of 60 states and on which a significant number of NATO countries abstained rather than vote "no." The NAC is a voice that will have to be reckoned with at the review conference.

While the reach of some of the New Agenda Coalition's proposals seems to exceed the group's collective grasp, the underlying significance of pushing an agenda on nuclear disarmament cannot and should not be brushed aside. There are a number of objectives to be pursued looking toward 2005 that should be acceptable to the parties at large: a call for early entry into force of the CTBT; a beginning of negotiation on a treaty cutting off fissile material production for weapons purposes and a moratorium on further production of such material pending the conclusion of such a treaty; completion of START II and forward movement on START III discussions; and engagement of all five nuclear-weapon states in the nuclear disarmament dialogue.

Middle East Resolution and Universality

The politics of indefinite extension of the NPT included agreeing to a resolution on the Middle East that emphasized the importance of states in the region making progress toward establishing a regional zone verifiably free of weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear-weapon states in particular were called upon to "extend their cooperation and...exert their utmost efforts" in order to promote early achievement of this goal. The resolution had the effect of singling out one region among several that are sources of proliferation concern and gave Egypt, in particular, a basis for keeping the NPT review process focused on Israel, which, since 1998, is the only state in the region still not a party to the treaty.

NPT members have differed over the status of the resolution, with some contending that it does not have the force of an actual "decision," while others assert that the resolution, by whatever name, was an integral part of the package leading to the NPT's indefinite extension and was therefore intended to be implemented as fully as any decision. At the 1997 Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom), Egypt, supported by the Arab and non-aligned states, successfully argued that special time should be set aside in the second PrepCom to deal with the Middle East resolution. The issue was a focal point of sometimes acrimonious discussion in the second PrepCom and was a significant factor in its failure to produce a positive result.

A major point of contention was whether background documentation on implementing the Middle East resolution should be produced for the 2000 review conference. Behind this seemingly innocuous question was the deeper issue of whether the conference should expand its responsibilities beyond review of the NPT and risk becoming involved in regional conflicts over which it has no authority or control, in which not all regional parties are NPT members, and which could undermine the integrity of the review.

The Arab-Israeli dispute is much more complex and far-reaching than the issues involved in the NPT and cannot be resolved in the framework of NPT review. In fact, the first operative paragraph of the Middle East resolution "endorses the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process and recognizes that efforts in this regard...contribute to...a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons," thus acknowledging that the peace process has a much broader responsibility than the NPT in addressing regional security issues.

At the 1999 PrepCom, Egypt and other non-aligned states cosponsored a proposal recommending the creation of a subsidiary body at the 2000 review conference "to consider and recommend proposals on the implementation of the resolution on the Middle East," making it clear that they will try to focus attention on the Middle East—and particularly Israel—at the review conference. Egyptian officials speak openly about their dissatisfaction with the regional insecurity that results from having a non-NPT neighbor with an active nuclear program not under international safeguards. Their objective is to engage the NPT community in the problem, and they see the 1995 resolution as having established an obligation to do so.

Unlike 1995, when several Middle East states were still not parties to the NPT, Israel is now the only non-NPT state in the region. That makes it more difficult for conference documents to refer to "parties in the region," instead of referring to "a single state" or naming Israel specifically. Efforts of the Arab states and their supporters to single out Israel could put considerable strain on the review.

What can be done and what the Arab states want done is not clear—whether formulating an action program to implement the resolution's operational paragraph that calls upon the nuclear-weapon states "to extend their cooperation and to exert their utmost efforts" in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, or issuing firmly worded statements of expectation that all states-parties concerned will undertake to make progress on achieving a regional zone.

The political difficulty with focusing only on the Middle East, and specifically Israeli non-adherence, is not just that it has the potential to embroil the conference in a controversy that exceeds its capacity, but also that it disregards the fact that three states in other regions-India, Pakistan, and Cuba—also remain outside the treaty, two of whom have taken the egregious step of conducting nuclear tests and declaring themselves nuclear states. The situation in South Asia is no less threatening to the non-proliferation regime than the Middle East, and conference attention to non-adherence in one region should be directly linked to non-adherence elsewhere and dealt with as a "class action."

Even in the Middle East context alone, focusing only on Israel ignores the fact that within the region there is still the problem of non-compliance of Iraq, an NPT member. The question, in other words, is not only one of adherence and universality, but also one of compliance. Egypt, however, refuses to address the Iraqi situation even though the Middle East resolution clearly references implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 687 as a step toward establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.

One approach to this problem would be for the parties to craft a conference statement calling upon those states not party to the treaty to exert all efforts possible to work toward the adoption of regional measures that draw them closer to the global non-proliferation regime with the ultimate objective of joining the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states. In the case of the Middle East, as Israel has already endorsed the concept of a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction, bilateral efforts could be undertaken—even at unofficial levels—to encourage Israel and the Arab states to begin a dialogue to explore the technical, administrative, and institutional attributes of an eventual zonal arrangement.

An approach along these lines would address both the specific Middle East issue and the broader question of universality. The resolution on the Middle East notwithstanding, in order for the 2000 review conference to be successful, a balanced approach that responds not only to one regional concern, but also to the general principles of universality and treaty compliance will be required.

Strengthened Review

The purpose of strengthening the review process in 1995 was to give more focus and definition to treaty review and, in particular, to give structural support to the principle of accountability. The decision institutionalized the five-year review conferences and stipulated that they not only evaluate past implementation of the treaty, but also identify "areas in which and the means through which, further progress should be sought," thus giving them agenda-setting responsibilities, exemplified by the 1995 agreement on "principles and objectives."

The decision on strengthened review was even more innovative with respect to the Preparatory Committee meetings, which traditionally had been confined to making procedural arrangements for review conferences. Under the strengthened review process, the PrepComs were mandated to meet in the three consecutive years before review conferences and to "consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality, and to make recommendations thereon to the Review Conference." They were also charged with recommending, where appropriate, the establishment of subsidiary bodies within the three main committees, through which the business of the review conferences is mainly conducted. The purpose of these bodies would be to provide more focused consideration of specific issues relevant to the treaty than might be available if left to the main committees.

Some states, however, are concerned that relying on subsidiary bodies to address treaty-relevant issues could adversely affect the principle of comprehensive and balanced review by focusing attention on a select few issues. They maintain that the establishment of subsidiary bodies should therefore be exceptional rather than routine. At the last of the three PrepComs leading up to the 2000 review conference, South Africa and Egypt proposed recommending to the review conference that subsidiary bodies be established on nuclear disarmament and on the Middle East resolution, but the proposal lacked consensus support. In fact, consensus agreement could not be reached on any substantive recommendations to the review conference, and as a result, none were sent forward. This has led to criticism and calls for revision of review procedures.

But the PrepCom process also had some very positive dimensions that must not be overlooked and should be built on. There was considerable progress in the more traditional arena of PrepCom activity (procedural preparations and recommendations to the review conference), thus ensuring that the review conference will not lose valuable time deciding how to organize itself, who should chair the main committees, and what documentation to have available for substantive discussion. More importantly, considerably more time and attention was devoted to substance in the first three PrepComs than at any time before. The nuclear-weapon states, for example, took the initiative in detailing their activities in the field of nuclear disarmament, including weapons reductions, program cancellations, retirement of fissile material from weapons and stockpiles, and its placement under international safeguards. Arguably, the PrepComs have already become established forums for the nuclear-weapon states accounting for their activities vis-a-vis disarmament, thereby lending the issue sustained attention.

On balance, however, what is evident from the experience of the PrepComs under the new regime is that theory has not transitioned smoothly into practice. While agreement could be reached on the principle of a strengthened review process, it is clear that there is not yet a consensus on what the scope of the process should be and how it should be implemented. Some states take a fairly strict constructionist view of the decision and seek to avoid undue encroachment on what they regard as the province of the review conference, while others favor a more liberal interpretation, implying decisional authority for PrepComs and their near replication of a full-blown review.

It is evident that serious attention needs to be given to clarifying the role and responsibility of institutions charged with implementing the strengthened review process in order to make it more effective. However, it would be a mistake to rush to judgment on the strengthened review process as a failure as some, whose expectations may have been unreasonably high, seem inclined to do.

Innovative approaches to improving the process have been suggested and ought to be aired and discussed at the review conference. Among these is a suggestion put forward by Canada to consider an article-by-article review of the treaty instead of allocating issue clusters to main committees for review and recommendation. Others have suggested that ways be found for PrepComs to forward broadly, but not unanimously, supported proposals or suggestions to review conferences, which could then determine how to consider them.


Reflecting on these challenges, it is not difficult to understand why there is foreboding about the 2000 review conference and why some observers speak in terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty being "under siege" or "at risk." High-visibility events such as the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, U.S. plans to deploy a limited national missile defense, and the stalemated START negotiation process have raised concerns about whether the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states remain committed to arms control and disarmament and to Article VI of the NPT.

The fact that the NPT does not meet security concerns as fully in the Middle East as it does in other areas and that Arab states seek to focus NPT institutions on Israel and to treat its non-adherence discretely rather than as an integral part of the broader problem of universality creates a political situation that adds strain to an already pressured review process.

The inability of the PrepComs to fulfill their purpose in forwarding recommendations for consideration by the review conference and the apparent differences of interpretation over the meaning of the decision on strengthening the review process give added basis for frustration and disappointment.

Tempering these considerations is the fact that through its norms, rules, and verification arrangements, the NPT benefits all states, even those who complain about its inequities or limitations—and even non-adherents. For most states, the political and security costs of a damaged or weakened treaty would outweigh any possible benefit to leaving the treaty, and that reality should place some limits on the demands they make at the review conference. The issues that will be raised at the conference are important, but they are not inherently treaty-breakers—at least not yet. If sensitivity is not displayed at the conference and beyond and the issues linger unattended, they could eventually threaten the viability of the treaty and non-proliferation regime. But it is in the interest of most states, if not all, to ensure that however strongly contested some issues may be and however forceful the debate becomes, the situation not be allowed to get out of hand.

Optimizing the probability of an outcome that maintains commitment to and confidence in the NPT will be enhanced if participants adhere to certain principles. First, states must keep expectations in line with plausible outcomes, avoid grand-design strategies, and strive for incremental adjustments and improvements that look ahead to 2005. This means acknowledging, without targeting blame, that the past five years have not been very conducive to taking great strides forward on all but a few of the objectives set forth in 1995. At the same time, states must recognize that some very substantial progress was made: negotiations on several new nuclear-weapon-free zones were completed, a strengthened international safeguards regime addressing the problem of detecting clandestine nuclear activity was finished, the number of nuclear weapons was reduced, weapons programs were cancelled, and fissile materials were irreversibly withdrawn from weapons programs.

Second, states must collectively affirm their commitment to the treaty and approach the review with the intention of finding mutually acceptable formulations for characterizing both past developments and future objectives. A possible resolution to the problem of producing final documents for the review conference would be a two-document approach—one that reviews the past and includes very disparate views; and a second that expresses consensus agreement on the treaty's importance to national security and international stability and that affirms the unequivocal support of all NPT members to fulfill their obligations and invest political will in bringing about a strengthened NPT regime by 2005. A future-oriented, agenda-setting document that draws consensus support is far more significant for the NPT than one assessing what has and has not happened, and it should therefore be the focus of attention.

Consideration should also be given to identifying and endorsing goals to be pursued in the next five years: for example, entry into force of the CTBT, commencement and conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, revitalization of the START process, and the progressive engagement of all five nuclear-weapon states in an Article VI process. Non-nuclear-weapon states should consider the objective of bringing into force the additional protocol on strengthened safeguards. The nuclear-weapon states should seek to reach some measure of accommodation on the issues that now divide them, or at least agree to seek bilateral resolution of those issues, rather than letting them hinder the larger purposes of the NPT.

Third, every effort should be made to ensure that the review undertaken is both balanced and comprehensive, that the treaty's objective of universality is strongly endorsed, and that all non-adherents are called upon to take all possible steps to adhere to the norms of the treaty. In the case of the Middle East, this would mean calling upon the states of the region to move ahead with preliminary exploration of the technical, administrative, and institutional parameters of an eventual zone free of weapons of mass destruction. States with influence with countries in the region should seek, bilaterally, to encourage progress in this regard, whether through official meetings or unofficial dialogue. In South Asia, this would mean urging India and Pakistan to make every effort to fulfill the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1172, issued in 1998 after their nuclear tests, which called on the two states to halt their nuclear and missile programs and urged them to join the NPT and CTBT regimes. This would underscore that the NPT parties will never consider their actions legitimate.

The bottom line is that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is fundamental to national and regional security and international stability. Its preservation is critically important to building a durable world order. Success can only benefit all; failure can only cause all to lose. Progress toward the NPT's objectives is not always linear—it has been and will continue to be vulnerable to the international political and security environment in which the treaty exists. That reality imposes an obligation on the treaty's collective membership to be responsible in the demands that they make on treaty fulfillment while nevertheless always keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize: a world free of nuclear weapons.

Lawrence Scheinman, former assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for nonproliferation and regional arms control, is distinguished professor of international policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

States party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will convene April 24 for the treaty's sixth review conference—the first to take place since the landmark 1995 conference at which the treaty was extended indefinitely.

Russia Denies Lowering Nuclear Threshold

March 2000

A month after issuing a policy document that appeared to expand the circumstances under which it would consider using nuclear weapons, Russia denied assertions that its new national security concept lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. Such claims are "untrue," according to a February 15 statement by Sergei Ivanov, secretary of Russia's Security Council, as quoted by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The concept, signed by Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 10, contemplated the use of nuclear weapons "to repulse armed aggression, if all other means of resolving the crisis have been exhausted." Russia's previous concept, adopted in 1997, only discussed using nuclear weapons "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation." (See ACT, January/February 2000.)

In the coming months, Russia is expected to finalize a new military doctrine—intended to complement the security concept and to replace the military doctrine adopted in 1993—that will further elaborate on Russia's nuclear-use policy. The Russian Security Council approved the new doctrine on February 4, but it will remain subject to further revision before being presented to Putin for signature.

Russia Denies Lowering Nuclear Threshold

NPT 2000: Is the Treaty in Trouble?

Spirits were high in May 1995 when the member states of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) extended the treaty indefinitely. The main players-the non-nuclear-weapon states and the five nuclear-weapon states-achieved enough of their objectives to declare victory. The non-nuclear-weapon states extracted new disarmament pledges and a strengthened review process. The nuclear-weapon states got a permanent treaty and strengthening of the safeguards system-the so-called "93+2," or strengthened safeguards, program. And the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) flexed their muscles and consolidated their place at the table. With permanent extension a done deal, some may believe the NPT is on auto-pilot. However, signs of trouble loom ahead for the first five-year review conference since 1995, which begins this April in New York. The trouble is real, but it is not too late to avoid disaster.

The 1995 conference did not settle any of the contentious issues that have been the source of differences among the parties to the NPT since its founding in 1968; it merely deferred them. Haggling over the disarmament obligations of Article VI of the treaty once again generated tensions during the 1995 conference.<1> Many countries, aided by disarmament-minded NGOs, favored a conditional and limited extension that would have linked the fate of the NPT to acceptance of a "timebound framework" for the lofty goal of total nuclear disarmament. Arab states, led by Egypt, wanted to focus more attention on Israel's nuclear program.<2> The permanent five members of the Security Council (P-5) wanted indefinite extension without conditions. And a large group of countries that faced no nuclear threats and did not perceive themselves to have much at stake in the treaty were mainly interested in avoiding trouble. So when the United States initiated a full-court press for indefinite extension, a battle royale ensued. The combination of brilliant statecraft by South Africa, the leadership of conference chairman Jayantha Dhanapala, active support from President Clinton and Vice President Gore, and the ultimate desire of key countries not to irreparably harm the NPT led to a deal that made indefinite extension possible.

The Deal Struck in 1995

The deal struck in 1995 included two central components. The first was the statement of "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament," which established benchmarks by which implementation of the treaty could be measured. The "principles and objectives" document reaffirmed the goals of achieving universal membership, accepting no additional nuclear-weapon states, improving compliance through strengthened safeguards, enhancing negative and positive security assurances, expanding nuclear-weapon-free zones, securing peaceful uses of nuclear energy and progressing toward disarmament. On the latter point, the conference cited a comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) and "determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon States" of nuclear arms reductions as specific disarmament objectives.<3>

The second major outcome of the 1995 conference was the strengthened review process. The main purpose of the strengthened review process was to guarantee accountability for "full" implementation of both the non-proliferation and disarmament provisions of the treaty. The strengthened review process established procedural and administrative arrangements for continuing the NPT's five-year review conferences, including three preparatory conferences for the 2000 review conference. Future review conferences "should look forward as well as back" to evaluate the record of compliance and implementation as outlined in the "principles and objectives." The 1995 conference also endorsed a Middle East resolution that satisfied Arab-bloc and U.S. concerns.<4> With these three key documents in hand, on May 12, 1995 the conference decided to extend the NPT for all time.

There were reasons to be optimistic in 1995 about the future of the NPT because the prospects for satisfying the benchmarks set forth in the "principles and objectives" were good. The unprecedented denuclearization decisions of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, as well as the accession of France and China to the NPT during the 1990-95 run-up to the extension conference, created a sense of momentum and expectation. In 1995, negotiations for a CTBT were nearing conclusion, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva was preparing for negotiations on an FMCT, the U.S. Senate consented to ratify START II and the Russian Duma seemed poised to ratify as well. There was hope for further progress in the START process and for U.S.-Russian cooperation on irreversible dismantlement and disposal of retired nuclear weapons. In short, an era of continuing nuclear reductions seemed to ensure enough convergence on key aspects of the "principles and objectives" to assure smooth sailing for the 2000 review conference. Progress on the Article VI side of the ledger would, in turn, allow more time to focus on U.S. priorities such as strengthened safeguards and compliance issues. With luck, progress in the Middle East peace process might even ease the Arab states' preoccupation with Israel's nuclear program.

Granted, the kind of progress that seemed possible after 1995 would not satisfy everyone. Influential groups such as the Canberra Commission, the New Agenda Coalition, the International Court of Justice and others called for radical reductions.<5> Abolitionists could be expected to urge the nuclear-weapon states to quicken the pace of disarmament. But the more gradual steps that were in the pipeline after the 1995 extension were sufficient to demonstrate U.S. respect for the non-nuclear-weapon states' interest in the Article VI part of the nuclear bargain.

Unmet Expectations

Such optimism has evaporated. Jousting at the 1997, 1998 and 1999 preparatory meetings revealed deep divisions that could lead to erosion of the treaty's foundations at the 2000 review conference.<6> Instead of gathering to laud the expected progress on the "principles and objectives," the 2000 review conference seems headed for a bitter confrontation. Foremost on the list of grievances is the perceived failure of the nuclear-weapon states-principally the United States-to fulfill their Article VI disarmament obligations as agreed in the "principles and objectives." With START II still unratified, the CTBT in limbo after its rejection by the Senate, the FMCT stalled at the CD and U.S. relations with Russia and China in a precarious state, hopes for significant new arms control achievements have dimmed. Even the administrative and procedural arrangements for NPT meetings have been controversial. These unforeseen developments have made the delicate U.S. balancing act between the NPT's disarmament provisions, on the one hand, and U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, on the other, more difficult than ever.

To make matters worse, debates over the direction of U.S. national and theater missile defense policy have spilled over in unprecedented ways into the multilateral disarmament arena. Moscow and Beijing have deflected attention away from their own nuclear modernization policies to focus on U.S. consideration of modifications to the 1972 ABM Treaty, which is increasingly characterized as a fundamental component of the global strategic balance. What was once a bilateral arms control treaty between the two nuclear superpowers has become a sacred icon of multilateral nuclear diplomacy. As China's top arms control official has warned, "Any amendment or abolishing of the [ABM] treaty will lead to disastrous consequences. This will bring a halt to nuclear disarmament between the Russians and the Americans, and in the future will halt multilateral disarmament as well." Russia and China have warned that they will each build enough warheads to keep their deterrent forces credible by overwhelming any imaginable U.S. missile shield.<7> Russian and Chinese motives aside, there is a growing impression in many capitals that Washington is courting a new arms race and in so doing is turning its back on the non-proliferation regime.

In reality, the United States has not turned its back on the non-proliferation regime. Since 1995, Washington has taken the lead in dealing with a litany of compliance, enforcement and universality problems. 1998 was a particularly bad year for non-proliferation. Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan; missile tests in North Korea, Pakistan and Iran; and the rejection of UNSCOM inspections by Iraq gave the impression that the non-proliferation regime was ineffectual at restraining those that challenged it, including NPT member states, and was in decline. Although such overt challenges were not repeated in 1999, few would argue that the global trends in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are encouraging.

In response, the Clinton administration led international coalitions to respond to the nuclear tests in South Asia, to rein in North Korea's nuclear program, to keep Saddam Hussein's WMD programs in check and to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear and missile technology. Moreover, the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program has made strides in preventing leakage of nuclear materials, technology and expertise from Russia and other former Soviet states-at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $3 billion.<8> The United States is working with Russia to increase nuclear transparency and to make reductions irreversible by verifying warhead dismantlement and disposing of excess weapons-usable material. It is also worth noting that the United States has signed the Additional Safeguards Protocol allowing expanded inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the United States as part of its support program for the strengthened safeguards system.

U.S. leadership on these non-proliferation issues, however, does not satisfy the thirst for disarmament. And it has not helped that U.S., NATO, Russian, Chinese, and even Indian and Pakistani nuclear doctrines have trumpeted the continuing role of nuclear weapons in their respective defense strategies, albeit with some important differences. While the tension between the nuclear-weapon states' nuclear deterrence doctrines and Article VI of the NPT is not new, these recent declarations stand in stark contrast to the expectations that were codified in the 1995 "principles and objectives."

Even close U.S. allies that have prospered under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, such as Germany, Japan and Canada, have intensified their disarmament rhetoric. Reconciling the nuclear component of America's defense relationships with its Article VI obligations has always been tricky. However, as the Cold War rationale for extended nuclear deterrence fades, pressure to close the gap between the nuclear haves and have-nots has increased, and much of that pressure is being directed on Article VI of the NPT.

Trouble Ahead

The stage is set for a messy and corrosive NPT review conference. A group of countries and NGOs are spoiling for a fight, anxious to punish the United States for not ratifying the CTBT and for the dreary outlook for dramatic new reductions. Although unlikely, there has been talk of a walk out at the 2000 review conference and speculation that a few countries might suspend their membership in the NPT or put conditions on their continued adherence.<9> While it is premature to view such developments as signs that the NPT regime is really unraveling, they do suggest there is some fraying around the edges. Timely action is needed to prevent the fraying threads from being pulled out and eventually leaving holes in the regime.

If the NPT review process is discredited and falls into disrepair, the only winners would be the hard-core opponents of the treaty. Disarmament advocates would find U.S. and P-5 officials less receptive to their entreaties, and the nuclear-weapon states might feel less impetus to move forward on arms control, nuclear-weapon-free zones, security assurances, technical assistance or regional issues. A divisive review conference could result in even less support for U.S. positions on safeguards and non-compliant countries, such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Efforts to build up the credibility of the IAEA safeguards system-initiated after the agency overlooked Iraq's massive weapons program-would suffer. Support for NPT-related activities such as the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which uphold norms against transfers of critical nuclear technology to unsafeguarded locations, could dwindle, with more countries willing to turn a blind eye to dangerous exports to dangerous places. Such breaches of non-proliferation norms might be rationalized as a predictable response to the failure of the nuclear-weapon states to live up to their end of the NPT bargain. In the worst case, increasingly divisive disputes among key NPT parties could be seen as a sign that the treaty had become ineffectual and encourage a handful of countries to keep their nuclear weapons options alive.

If the NPT regime were to collapse, governments would have to rely more heavily on their second line of defense against proliferation-deterrence and defense. And while it is an option to give up on diplomacy and deal with proliferation militarily, this approach is no more appealing in 2000 than it was in the 1960s when the NPT was negotiated to prevent a nuclear free-for-all. Few would benefit from nuclear chaos. The fundamental purposes of the NPT remain sound, despite the inherent problems of implementation and enforcement.

Assessing the U.S. Record

The truth is that the United States has a good record on the "principles and objectives," in spite of the difficulties. And while progress since 1995 has not met initial expectations, disappointment should not cloud the positive achievements or cause a loss of faith in the NPT. With respect to Washington's fidelity to Article VI, the ultimate fate of the CTBT in the U.S. Senate is still an open question, as it is in other capitals. Influential Republicans in Congress have expressed willingness to take a fresh look at the treaty, especially after the 2000 presidential election.<10> In the meantime, the Clinton administration has indicated that the United States will act in accordance with its obligations under the CTBT.<11> Even after rejecting ratification, the Senate appropriated funds for the CTBT Organization. It is far too early to write off the CTBT.

Regarding the debate on missile defense, no decision has yet been made, and one will not have been made by the time the 2000 review conference convenes. Even top Pentagon missile defense experts recommend delaying key decisions.<12> Thus, it would be unwise to hold the NPT hostage to worst-case speculation about possible changes in an arms control treaty between the United States and Russia. Moreover, it is also useful to recall that the ABM Treaty allows the United States and Russia to deploy 100 interceptors each, which Russia deploys around Moscow. The treaty has been modified before, and the modifications currently under consideration would not change the underlying strategic reality that both sides remain vulnerable to missile attack.<13> The charge that any additional changes to the ABM Treaty would necessarily doom arms control is unfounded. Like the CTBT and START II, it is too early to write off the ABM Treaty.

How to Avoid an NPT Train Wreck

The 2000 NPT review is best understood as another chapter in mankind's historic effort to cope with nuclear weapons. The review conference is not an apocalyptic moment in which a final resolution to the nuclear dilemma must be found. It is, therefore, not the time or place to force a confrontation from which all sides would find it difficult to recover and that could do permanent damage to the NPT. Most importantly, events since 1995 have not reduced anyone's interests in sustaining the NPT and the non-proliferation regime as permanent features of the international system. The main effect of a showdown over Article VI at the 2000 review would be to deepen feelings of futility and cynicism on all sides. Such showdowns were avoided in 1968, at previous review conferences and at the 1995 review and extension conference, despite deep differences. Confrontational approaches will not succeed in pushing the nuclear-weapon states to do things that they are not yet prepared to do and are more likely to sow seeds of resentment that will make them less receptive to the multilateral disarmament agenda.

A train wreck at the 2000 review conference can be avoided. The steps outlined below may help participants realize enough of their objectives to prevent the most contentious issues from derailing the review conference.

Pay Attention: Priorities for the United States

The Clinton administration will have to raise the profile of the 2000 review conference for it to succeed in heading off any further erosion of the regime. Many countries are under the impression that the NPT is a low priority for Washington. As a result, some foreign disarmament diplomats feel free to push controversial agendas in UN forums such as the Conference on Disarmament and the General Assembly. The United States could indicate the high priority it attaches to the NPT by proposing that foreign ministers open the review conference and that heads of state close it.

The United States should work out in advance an arrangement with Egypt to prevent the recurring battle over the Middle East resolution from spoiling the review conference. Specifically, mutually acceptable language for a Middle East resolution should be crafted and the timing of its presentation agreed upon before the conference begins. With the Middle East peace process showing hopeful signs, efforts to isolate Israel through a Middle East resolution are out of sync with mainstream diplomacy. Similar advance arrangements on timing and language may also be useful with other countries active in NPT politics, such as South Africa and Mexico.

It is critical that the United States reject accommodations with threshold states that are inconsistent with NPT norms. Tacit approval of India's or Pakistan's "minimum nuclear deterrent" in connection with a presidential trip to South Asia would have adverse consequences for the 2000 review and for the NPT in general and would confirm suspicions that the United States is straying from the norms it prescribes for others. Also, it would be wise to avoid statements on possible withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which could inflame those who have come to view the treaty as essential for the non-proliferation regime.

Finally, it would be useful to review inside the government and with our allies the possibility of adjusting U.S. first-use policy. On balance, there may be more to be gained by downplaying the implied threat of a nuclear response against a chemical or biological attack. The credibility of the U.S. deterrent posture would not be diminished.

Walk, Don't Run: Priorities for Non-Nuclear-Weapon States

Non-nuclear-weapon states, especially those associated with the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, should beware arguments about how much leverage the NPT can exert on the nuclear-weapon states. There is little to gain from forcing the nuclear-weapon states to choose between accepting a timebound framework for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons or forfeiting the non-proliferation benefits of the NPT. History shows that the NPT benefits all parties, even while Article VI remains a work in progress.

Non-nuclear-weapon states should also beware the pitfalls of constantly renegotiating the NPT, including the "principles and objectives." Endless controversy over administrative arrangements, procedures and organization take time and energy that could be devoted to substantive issues.

The 2000 review offers an opportunity for non-nuclear-weapon states to broaden the focus of Article VI by addressing concerns about the lack of progress on arms control and disarmament more evenly among the nuclear-weapon states and their allies, not just the United States. For example, concerns about the revaluation of nuclear weapons by Russia and China in their defense strategies could be addressed to representatives of those countries. And while Russian, U.S., British and French arsenals are shrinking, China's is the only one still growing. It will also be useful to keep regional issues in perspective. For example, efforts to hold the NPT process hostage to Middle East politics detract from the global nuclear agenda and encourage others to attempt similar linkages. As stated above, compromise language for a Middle East resolution should be crafted in advance.

Finally, the non-nuclear-weapon states most concerned about the future of nuclear weapons, particularly those associated with the New Agenda Coalition, would be wise to remember that today's large arsenals are the result of nearly half a century of cold war. Yet in the past 10 years, the U.S. and Russian arsenals have been cut drastically.<14> If the reductions, dismantlement and irreversible disposal of nuclear materials that have been achieved in the past 10 years continue, it would be hard to argue that very significant progress has not been made. With this perspective in mind, non-nuclear-weapon states could focus on expected progress for the 2005 review conference and beyond.

Eyes on the Prize: Priorities for NGOs

The NGOs can use their hard-won access to the NPT process to achieve constructive results. Perhaps most importantly, NGOs can help facilitate consensus between the parties by identifying and promoting compromises between the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states that bolster the treaty in the long run and serve everyone's interests. Conversely, overzealous NGOs could encourage gridlock by promoting confrontational agendas guaranteed to drive the parties apart. It is possible to hold the nuclear-weapon states' feet to the fire on Article VI without endangering the very process that gives voice to NGO concerns.

NGOs could enhance their role by opening dialog with Russia and China about the future of their nuclear weapons. The fates of START II and Security Council action in Iraq, for example, depend on Moscow. Similarly, at what point will China consider arms control limits on its strategic modernization? And what do the non-nuclear-weapon members of NATO, especially those that have been active in disarmament politics, think about the NATO nuclear doctrine with which they freely associated themselves? These are issues that could be identified now for further consideration at the 2005 review conference.

NGOs could help strengthen the NPT and enhance their own credibility by actively supporting the strengthened safeguards, compliance and technical assistance portions of the treaty, not just Article VI. NGOs could help educate the delegations by providing documentation on these aspects of the treaty. After all, vertical disarmament is less likely if horizontal proliferation is tolerated.

Finally, NGOs have had their greatest impact by organizing grassroots support for nuclear issues. The U.S. 2000 election campaign provides numerous opportunities to query congressional and presidential candidates about their nuclear weapons policies. So far, little has been heard from the candidates on these issues, despite the fact that the fates of the CTBT and the ABM Treaty are in the hands of the next president and congress. In the long run, involvement in international summitry may pay fewer dividends than influencing local, state and national politics.

Great Expectations

The shared goal for the upholders of the treaty is to keep the NPT and the regime it embodies healthy for years to come. A healthy treaty can withstand vigorous debate about the future of nuclear weapons for international security. A healthy treaty is essential for all aspects of the nuclear bargain-IAEA safeguards, technical assistance and disarmament. A weakened treaty would not sustain rancorous debates over core security issues, nor would it provide adequate support for the regime's many cooperative programs.

All participants should consider the possible outcomes of the 2000 review and formulate strategies to achieve desired results. It is just as important to identify undesirable outcomes and find ways to avoid them. If the desired outcome is to preserve the NPT-at the very least until the next review conference in 2005-it is worth considering ways to arrive at a mutually acceptable endgame. For the non-nuclear-weapon states and the disarmament NGOs, the question is how far the nuclear-weapon states can be pushed before they begin to disengage. For its part, the United States is going to have to take its lumps on disarmament as gracefully and diplomatically as possible and stay the course on safeguards and compliance. Having spearheaded the effort to successfully extend the NPT in 1995, the Clinton administration faces a serious challenge to steer the treaty through its current difficulties. This will require consultations with Britain and France, and especially with Russia and China, on how to keep differences on controversial issues such as the ABM Treaty from wrecking the review conference. Moscow and Beijing would be well advised to refrain from airing bilateral differences with Washington on strategic matters in the multilateral context of the NPT.

The strengthened review process guarantees there will be vigorous debate on the wide range of issues contained in the "principles and objectives." The key to a successful review conference lies in avoiding an impasse over the language used in official conference documents, particularly regarding disarmament and the Middle East. Consensus on these issues may not be possible, but it should be possible to craft compromises that avoid serious long-term damage to the treaty. It is useful to recall that several previous NPT review conferences failed to produce a consensus final declaration, yet the treaty survived. So long as disagreements can be addressed within the procedures of the treaty, lack of consensus on a final declaration would not spell disaster. What must be avoided are ultimatums, conditions or threats linking continued adherence to the treaty to specific, timebound implementation requirements.

When the review conference looks backward at the history of the NPT, the participants will see the most effective international security treaty of all time-a unique blend of realism and idealism that delivered the world from global nuclear chaos. Looking forward, the conference will see two possible futures, one with the NPT and one without it. Only a fool would jeopardize the treaty and roll the dice on a world without the NPT.


1. Tariq Rauf and Rebecca Johnson, "After the NPT's Indefinite Extension: The Future of the Global Non-Proliferation Regime," Non-Proliferation Review, Fall 1995; Susan Welsh, "Delegate Perspectives on the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference," Non-Proliferation Review, Spring-Summer 1995.

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2. Mohamed Shaker, "Why the Non-Aligned States May Not Support an Indefinite Extension," Disarmament, Volume XVII, Number 1, 1995.

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3. "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament," NPT/CONF.1995/32/DEC.2, May 11, 1995.

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4. "Resolution on the Middle East," NPT/CONF.1995/32/RES.1, May 11, 1995.

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5. See, for example: "Report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," August 1996; International Court of Justice, Advisory Opinion, "Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons," July 8, 1996; "Towards A Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Need for a New Agenda," UN Resolution 53/77Y, December 3, 1998.

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6. Tariq Rauf, "The 1998 NPT PrepCom," Disarmament Diplomacy, May 1998; Rebecca Johnson, "Divisions and Doubts At the Third NPT PrepCom," Arms Control Today, April/May 1999.

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7. John Pomfret, "China Warns of New Arms Race," The Washington Post, November 11, 1999, p. A1; David Hoffman, "Moscow Warns U.S. on Missile Defense," The Washington Post, October 26, 1999, p. A19.

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8. Amy F. Woolf and Curt Tarnoff, The Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative for the Former Soviet Union: Administration Proposals for FY2000, Congressional Research Service, Report #RS20203, May 20, 1999.

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9. "Wide Alarm as Key Arms Treaties Come Under Threat," Disarmament Times, November 1999.

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10. Stephen Schwartz, "Outmaneuvered, Outgunned, and Out of View," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2000; Arnold Kanter and Brent Scowcroft, "How To Fix the CTBT," The Washington Times, October 27, 1999; Joseph Lieberman and Chuck Hagel, "Don't Give Up on the Test Ban," The New York Times, October 16, 1999; George Bunn and John Rheinlander, "Senate CTBT Rejection Not the End," Disarmament Diplomacy, November 1999.

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11. Statement by President Clinton on Senate Rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, White House Briefing, October 13, 1999.

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12. "National Missile Defense Review Committee Report" (The "Welch" Report), November 18, 1999.

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13. "Joint Statement Between the United States and the Russian Federation Concerning Strategic Offensive and Defensive Arms and Further Strengthening of Stability," White House, Office of the Press Secretary, June 20, 1999.

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14. For a review of U.S. dismantlement progress see "Prepared Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson," 43rd Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria, September 27, 1999.

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Zachary S. Davis covers international nuclear policy at the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. The views expressed here are his own. [Back to top]

April Audit

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

When the 186 members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) gather in New York in April for the treaty's five-year review conference, the debate will probably focus on the nuclear-weapon states' failure to honor commitments made in connection with the 1995 agreement to extend the treaty indefinitely rather than on direct threats to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The brunt of this criticism will be borne by the United States as the leader of the nuclear non-proliferation effort. Unless the United States takes this little-heralded event seriously and pursues constructive, high-level preparations, the conference could well prove a diplomatic donnybrook. Even though it is unlikely that any member would withdraw as a consequence, such an outcome would seriously undercut the effectiveness of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

On the 25th anniversary of the NPT in April 1995, a treaty-mandated conference decided after much debate to extend the treaty indefinitely. To achieve consensus support for this outcome in the face of a significant minority view that there should be only a five-year extension, the nuclear-weapon states, led by the United States, committed themselves to making progress in the reduction of their nuclear arsenals and to completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Future five-year review conferences were to measure progress on these issues.

Initially, this commitment was met impressively with the on-schedule completion and signature of the long-sought CTBT, the successful denuclearization of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and the U.S. Senate ratification of START II. In addition, there was apparent progress in dealing with the serious North Korean and Iraqi challenges to the NPT.

In the last few years, however, this early promise faded as the world witnessed serious new challenges to the NPT and failure of the nuclear-weapon states to make progress on their commitments to nuclear arms reductions. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, threatening a nuclear arms race in South Asia, set back the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as did the inability of the international community to react effectively to Saddam Hussein's expulsion of UN-mandated UNSCOM inspectors. Today, the world is even faced with the specter of the possible loss of past arms control agreements, including the CTBT and the ABM Treaty.

The U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT, which has long been looked upon as the litmus test of the nuclear-weapon states' commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and reduction of their reliance on nuclear weapons, came as an unanticipated shock to world opinion. Despite President Clinton's assurance that the United States would continue to honor his signature of the CTBT, the entire world wondered how serious the U.S. commitment to nuclear non-proliferation was when all of the Republican presidential candidates rushed to endorse the Senate's gratuitous action against a treaty that was largely a U.S. initiative. Russian and Chinese statements in support of the treaty placed the onus for blocking progress on bringing the CTBT into force squarely on the United States.

The international community has viewed with equal alarm the growing U.S. obsession with national missile defense (NMD). Although the Clinton administration insists its program is directed solely at potential threats from "rogue states," no other nation is persuaded that the most powerful nation in the world is really interested in deploying this expensive and provocative system simply to defend itself against a most unlikely threat from North Korea or Iraq. The proposed deployment, which would weaken or destroy the ABM Treaty, is widely seen as a barrier to the further reductions promised in 1995 and as the possible start of a new high-tech arms race. The extent of this opposition was reflected in the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution supporting the ABM Treaty and opposing NMD deployment, where only three countries (Israel, Albania and Micronesia) joined the United States in opposition.

To persuade the conference to focus on measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, the United States must first make clear that it will continue to honor and seek early ratification of the CTBT and that President Clinton has not made a decision on NMD deployment and will not make that decision until there has been an objective review of technological readiness, the threat from rogue states, financial cost and the impact on arms control, including the ABM Treaty.

The United States should treat the meeting as an opportunity for renewed commitment to NPT objectives. New York is not the place to defend or rationalize outrageous actions by the U.S. Senate or to build the case for an as-yet-unmade presidential decision to initiate NMD deployment. Above all, the United States should listen carefully-what the rest of the world thinks about these issues should carry weight in the U.S. decision-making process.

Senator Helms' Floccinaucinihilipilification

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

As self-appointed arbiter of U.S. foreign policy, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) recently disdainfully dismissed an appeal by all 45 Democratic senators that he allow the Senate to consider the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has languished before his committee for two years without hearings. In his supercilious reply, Helms proclaimed his "floccinaucinihilipilification" of the CTBT, or in plain English, his belief that the treaty is absolutely worthless. With Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's (R-MS) support, Helms reasserted his intention to hold the treaty hostage to advance his campaign to destroy the unrelated ABM Treaty, thereby blocking Senate action on the CTBT. Failure to ratify the CTBT will endanger U.S. security by undercutting U.S. efforts to build international support for the nuclear non-proliferation regime and by allowing further nuclear weapon developments by countries that could threaten the United States.

The 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which now bars testing by the 181 non-nuclear-weapon states-parties through their agreement not to acquire nuclear weapons, allows the five recognized nuclear-weapon states to continue testing, underscoring the inherently discriminatory nature of the treaty. By applying equally to all nations, the CTBT would end the privileged status of the nuclear-weapon states to continue testing to further develop their nuclear capabilities. The treaty is widely seen as the litmus test of whether the nuclear-weapon states recognize their own NPT treaty obligation to move toward nuclear disarmament.

The CTBT would ban nuclear testing by Russia, the only country that can now possibly threaten the survival of the United States, and by China, the only other country that might in the future achieve that capability. But neither Russia nor China will ratify before the United States does. The treaty also provides a practical means to limit the development of more advanced weapons by India, Israel and Pakistan, three nuclear-capable countries that are unlikely to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states because it would require the elimination of all their nuclear weapons. Finally, by establishing an international norm against testing, the CTBT would put additional pressure not to test on North Korea and Iraq, which are in violation of their NPT obligations, and Iran, which the United States believes is positioning itself to violate the NPT.

Despite these compelling considerations, test ban opponents assert in a campaign of false and misleading statements that without testing the U.S. deterrent will be threatened by the loss of stockpile reliability and that the treaty is "unverifiable." These alarming assertions could not be sustained in a serious Senate debate. The leaders of the three U.S. nuclear weapon laboratories agree that the reliability and safety of the stockpile can be maintained without further nuclear testing. This will be accomplished by the generously funded stockpile stewardship program, which will monitor the reliability of the stockpile with non-destructive and non-nuclear testing, as well as computer simulations. This will give ample warning if weapons or components must be refabricated. The current chairman of the JCS, General Henry Shelton, as well as four former JCS chairmen have endorsed the treaty as serving U.S. security interests. They are confident of the reliability and safety of the U.S. stockpile and see no need to develop new types of weapons to meet U.S. military requirements in an era of declining relevance of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. record of successfully identifying some 1,000 foreign nuclear tests (about 700 underground) refutes the charge that the treaty is unverifiable. With the added capabilities of the treaty's international monitoring system, any tests large enough to affect U.S. security will be detected. And the treaty provision to permit on-site inspections will provide a mechanism for taking violations to the United Nations with the support of the international community if clear evidence is discovered or if the inspection is denied.

Helms' obstruction has already lost the United States voting participation in the special Vienna conference October 6-8 to facilitate entry into force of the CTBT. If he is allowed to continue to block ratification, the U.S. leadership role will be seriously undercut at the important five-year NPT review conference scheduled for April-May 2000. Rather than being looked to as the leading force against nuclear proliferation, the United States will be widely held as responsible for the failure of the nuclear-weapon states to honor their pledge on the CTBT in obtaining the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995.

The Republican leadership should not permit Helms to co-opt them as co-conspirators in his effort to block CTBT ratification. If Helms succeeds in denying the Senate the right to exercise its constitutional responsibility to consider this important treaty, the issue must be taken to the American people. Polls indicate that an overwhelming bipartisan majority does not share the senator's cavalier "floccinaucinihilipilification" of the CTBT.

Facing Nuclear Dangers: An Action Plan For the 21st Century

Excerpts from the Tokyo Forum Report

On July 25, the Tokyo Forum for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament released its report: Facing Nuclear Dangers: An Action Plan for the 21st Century. The result of four meetings—two in 1998 and two this year—the report addresses four areas: new nuclear dangers, mending strategic relations to reduce nuclear dangers, stopping and reversing nuclear proliferation, and achieving nuclear disarmament. The report concludes with the forum's 17 recommendations.

Organized in August 1998 at the initiative of former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, the 23-member independent panel comprises international disarmament experts, diplomats, government officials and military strategists (both current and former).

Below are key excerpts from the report, and the recommendations in their entirety. The report may be found on the Web at: http://serv.peace.hiroshima-cu.ac.jp/English/final1-e.htm.

Part Two: Mending Strategic Relations to Reduce Nuclear Dangers

Stopping and Reversing Regional Proliferation

South Asia

33. The Tokyo Forum therefore reaffirms the "benchmarks" for India and Pakistan articulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1172 and the G8 Foreign Ministers' communique of June 1998. The Forum calls on the international community to continue to urge India and Pakistan to implement all requirements in UN Security Council Resolution 1172, including: adherence to the CTBT without delay or conditions; immediate cessation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs, including refraining from weaponisation; cessation of production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes; and restraint from export of equipment, materials and technology that can contribute to the development of WMD or missiles capable of delivering them. The Tokyo Forum calls on India and Pakistan to maintain moratoria on nuclear testing.

34. The Tokyo Forum believes that international efforts to secure India's and Pakistan's acceptance of international norms must be sustained. Ultimately the goal is to persuade India and Pakistan to renounce nuclear weapons and to adhere to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states. The latter could only be achieved in connection with reconciliation on the subcontinent, a continued and revitalised US-Russia process of nuclear arms reductions and the widening of this process at a suitable stage to include China, France and the United Kingdom.

35. The Forum calls for India and Pakistan to each announce a national moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes until the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations are concluded, and to contribute constructively to those negotiations. In this context, and taking into account China's wish to be a stabilising force in international affairs, a declared Chinese moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes would encourage India and Pakistan to follow.

36. The Forum considers that India and Pakistan should acquire no special status under the NPT, let alone legal status as nuclear-weapon states, nor be rewarded with any other additional status as a result of their nuclear testing….

37. The Tokyo Forum calls on India and Pakistan to take concrete and verifiable steps to reduce nuclear dangers…It is imperative that India and Pakistan finalise nuclear risk-reduction measures agreed to in the Lahore Declaration…The Tokyo Forum strongly supports the process begun at Lahore and rejects any efforts to resolve differences by force. The Tokyo Forum calls on the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and other nations to support the Lahore Declaration, and to offer to help implement any agreements reached in bilateral negotiations aimed at resolving the Kashmir dispute. New initiatives on Kashmir are especially needed in the wake of the 1999 conflict.

39. The Tokyo Forum calls on China and India to freeze or forgo nuclear deployments of long-range ballistic missiles in combination with a verifiable pledge not to station short-range missiles close to their common border….

The Middle East

43. …The Tokyo Forum therefore stresses the crucial importance of an Arab-Israeli peace process for the stability of the region and for the future of nuclear non-proliferation. A successful peace process would also permit progress in removing nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East in the medium and long-term period. Indeed, the processes of peace and WMD disarmament should proceed in parallel.

45. …In the short-term the Tokyo Forum urgently appeals to all states in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as well as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) export control arrangements—especially Russia—to do their utmost to avoid any relevant transfers, including both technology and expertise, to the Middle East. The Forum also strongly endorses efforts to persuade North Korea, and other states non-members of the MTCR, to refrain from any transfers of sensitive missile technology to the region.

47. The Tokyo Forum calls on the UN Security Council, especially its five permanent members, to do its utmost to establish as soon as possible a long-term WMD control regime for Iraq based on the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and on the long-term monitoring plans approved by it in 1991. The Forum calls on Iraq to comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and strongly urges the council's Permanent Members to give priority to non-proliferation issues in their dealings with all states of the region.

48. The Tokyo Forum urges all states in the region to take unilateral steps to create confidence and reassurance. We call on all states in the region to: join the NPT; ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all nuclear materials under their jurisdiction, including those contained in the recent Additional Protocol; sign and ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention; and take further measures to clarify beyond doubt their compliance with the NPT. We call on Israel to shut down its unsafeguarded nuclear reactor at Dimona or immediately subject it to international safeguards. All states in the region should suspend missile flight tests and restrain missile programs. Negotiations should be initiated towards a regional agreement to limit missile proliferation, that could usefully draw upon the provisions of the 1987 US-Soviet INF Treaty.

49. The Tokyo Forum believes that the multilateral Arab-Israeli negotiation process would be advanced by the rejuvenation of the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) process. It strongly recommends serious work to develop a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. Such a zone would only be possible in parallel with the successful conclusion of the Arab-Israeli peace process and substantial changes in the policies of Iran and Iraq. We urge both states to join the Arab-Israeli peace process including the ACRS process.

Northeast Asia

54. The Tokyo Forum calls on the international community to do its utmost to achieve early realisation of the goal of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula. It urges North Korea to stop all nuclear weapon and missile related activities, and to bring about the full implementation of the 1994 US-North Korean Agreed Framework…The Tokyo Forum calls on the international community to press North Korea to sign and ratify the CTBT as soon as possible; to implement its NPT/IAEA fullscope safeguards agreement; and to accept the new Additional Protocol to that agreement. Strict, verifiable implementation of these safeguards is the only way to resolve the continuing uncertainties over the North Korea nuclear program and prevent a new crisis.

55. In the context of Northeast Asia, the Tokyo Forum underscores the need for the strict implementation of export controls in accordance with the MTCR guidelines, and calls for more rigorous controls on nuclear weapons technology and materials. The Forum stresses the necessity for the international community to closely cooperate in keeping nuclear weapons materials and missile technology, as well as precursors for other weapons of mass destruction, away from North Korea.

56. The Forum also sees an urgent need for measures to prevent North Korea from continuing to be a source of missile or nuclear weapons proliferation to other regions. Given the threat that such proliferation could pose to international peace and security, these measures might range from bilateral or multilateral talks involving the North Korean authorities, through international economic sanctions to more forceful actions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Such sanctions might be applied both to North Korea and states buying its missiles and related items. These measures will not be necessary, however, if North Korea takes meaningful steps to reassure its neighbours and conforms fully to relevant international non-proliferation norms. The Tokyo Forum strongly recommends that all states strive to engage North Korea in a constructive dialogue on these matters.

Part Three: Stopping and Reversing Nuclear Proliferation

Strengthening the NPT

5. The way out of this dilemma is not to bow to proliferation but to fulfill the basic bargain of the NPT by strengthening non-proliferation measures and by reducing progressively and eliminating nuclear weapons. An immediate step towards the former is to expedite acceptance and implementation of the International Atomic Energy Agency Additional Protocol to NPT safeguards agreements, making it a new non-proliferation standard. The latter requires reducing the numbers and salience of nuclear weapons, and making weapon inventories and national stocks of fissile material transparent. The discriminatory basis of the NPT regime need not constitute a moral and practical flaw in the treaty provided that the nuclear-weapon states and the non-nuclear-weapon states keep their parts of the bargain. If they do not, however, then the regime will certainly continue to unravel, and those parties that maintain good faith will be less and less able to strengthen or even preserve it.

7. The Tokyo Forum is convinced that steps must be taken to increase the ability of NPT parties to prevent, and react effectively to, cases of proliferation. It calls for the creation of a permanent secretariat and consultative commission for the Treaty. This would be a guardianship organisation, charged with serving the objectives of all Treaty parties in pursuing non-proliferation and disarmament. Consideration of options for such an executive body should begin urgently. In addition, the Forum stresses the importance of the 2000 NPT Review Conference for the preservation and strengthening of the Treaty regime, and the need for all participants to adopt constructive approaches and focus on their common interest in strengthening it.

Strengthening Regional Instruments

15. The Tokyo Forum urges all parties concerned to redouble their efforts to achieve the goal of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula as soon as possible. Major efforts also should be made to bring fully into force the Treaties of Bangkok and Pelindaba, and their protocols, as well as establishing their regional institutions. In addition, the Tokyo Forum strongly supports the rapid conclusion and early entry into force of a treaty to create a Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone. Efforts should be made to promote the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones and to link those that exist.

Strengthening Security Assurances

16. Assurances that nuclear weapons will not be used against a non-nuclear-weapon state give many such states a strong security incentive to maintain and increase their support for the global non-proliferation regime. The five nuclear-weapon states, however, have not agreed on a common formula to codify their unilateral negative security assurances, without which the assurances cannot be brought together in a multilateral legal form. At contention are the differing conditions which the nuclear-weapon states attach to the implementation of their negative security assurances; whether such assurances should only be given to NNWS parties of the NPT or be of universal application; and whether they should be negotiated in an NPT forum or the Conference on Disarmament. The Tokyo Forum calls on the five NWS to actively seek agreement on a common formula for negative security assurances to NNWS parties to the NPT, and explore the possibility of negotiating a legally-binding agreement.

18. In January 1992, the President of the United Nations Security Council declared on behalf of the members of the Security Council that the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction constituted a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security. The Tokyo Forum urges the international community to seek to reconfirm this statement as a Security Council resolution. If proliferation were to be defined thus, sanctions against a proliferating state could flow more easily through the Security Council. The Tokyo Forum also calls on permanent members of the UN Security Council to announce that they would refrain from exercising their vetoes against efforts to assist or defend UN members states which are subject to the use or the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction. The Tokyo Forum considers that all current and prospective permanent members of the UN Security Council should have exemplary non-proliferation credentials.

Tightening Controls on Fissile Materials

Declaring an End to Production

20. France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States have formally announced that they are no longer producing fissile material for weapons purposes. China has also indicated unofficially that it has stopped producing fissile material for weapons purposes. A public statement from China confirming its private assurances would greatly aid progress on controlling fissile material. India and Pakistan have active production programs; it is likely that their stocks of weapon-grade material are increasing. It is not clear whether Israel is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons purposes. India, Pakistan and Israel should also declare, as soon as possible and before conclusion of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, national moratoria on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

Expediting Negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

21. A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) is a precondition for success in nuclear non-proliferation, as well as a building block for nuclear disarmament. It would help to curb nuclear proliferation and facilitate efforts to detect and monitor clandestine production and acquisition. The Tokyo Forum calls on the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to act on the 1995 Shannon Mandate for the negotiation of a FMCT. The Conference must overcome the political stalemate that delayed the establishment of a negotiating ad hoc committee until August 1998 and has frustrated its re-establishment in 1999. The treaty needs to be concluded as quickly as possible. However, the issue of fissile material stockpiles is important. The Tokyo Forum recommends that the issue of fissile material stocks be discussed in parallel with, but outside, the formal FMCT negotiations in order to speed the process. Verification measures under an FMCT should augment and not undermine the NPT/IAEA safeguards system including its Additional Protocol.

Increasing Transparency

24. The Tokyo Forum urges all states with unsafeguarded fissile materials—the nuclear-weapon states and relevant non-NPT states—to voluntarily increase the transparency of their fissile material stockpiles. Those that have not already done so should begin a process of internally auditing their stocks. The results from the internal audits should be published annually. This transparency measure would have significant confidence-building effects, and could help expedite FMCT negotiations. Transparency measures on fissile material, including any at a regional level, should be linked and coordinated with the International Atomic Energy Agency and structured to ensure full transparency on nuclear material accounting.

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

25. …The Tokyo Forum calls for regional and global cooperative efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of extremist, fanatical or criminal groups. Efforts to fight nuclear terrorism could be backed by new legal norms, including an international treaty on nuclear terrorism, advocated by Russia and now being negotiated in the United Nations. To be useful this instrument must add materially to existing legal means. Any measure that strengthens the international norms and existing legal means is worthy of support.

Improving Material Protection and Control

26. …The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, in force since 1987, must be accepted and fully implemented by all relevant states. Urgent consideration should be given to widening the scope of the convention, now concerned mainly with materials in transit. The 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety, for safe carriage by sea of irradiated fuel, plutonium and high-level radioactive waste, and the 1997 Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and Radioactive Waste, can also help stop the theft or diversion of nuclear materials for use in weapons.

Strengthening Controls and Threat Reduction Programs in Russia

27. …The Tokyo Forum calls urgently for greater international cooperation to combat nuclear smuggling, with mutually-supporting roles for police forces, intelligence and customs agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

28. Greater international cooperation is required for Russia and other CIS members to improve nuclear material protection, control and accounting. Since 1994 many countries, including the United States, Japan and the European Union, have provided financial contributions and expertise to this end. The United States, under the Nunn-Lugar or Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, has provided about US$1.8 billion for 18 projects. Other G7 members have contributed considerably smaller amounts. Assistance needs to be maintained and intensified in, for example, destruction of nuclear weapons, provision of reinforced containers, storage facilities and transport for fissile materials, and research on mixed oxide fuel recycling. The International Science and Technology Center needs support to continue funding civilian projects for former Soviet scientists. The international community needs to expand threat-reduction programs in Russia as a matter of urgency. The United States recently announced US$4.5 billion for the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative, to help tackle proliferation threats including those arising from the loosening of controls on plutonium due to the Russian financial crisis. The Tokyo Forum urges the other G7 countries to provide additional resources for threat-reduction programs and calls on other members of the international community to follow the lead of the United States.

29. …Greater efforts need to be made, and by more states, to ensure the physical control and urgent disposal of plutonium and highly enriched uranium in the former Soviet Union. Disposal programs should be subject to tighter time schedules, with dates for completion. Excess highly enriched uranium should be diluted to low-enriched uranium for its introduction to civil power production as soon as possible. The financial cost of these tasks will be high. Private as well as government sources of funding should be sought, to ensure that the greatest possible resources are deployed to address the problem in the shortest possible time.

Extending Fissile Material Verification and Safeguards

32. The Tokyo Forum calls on all NPT parties that have not yet done so to give the International Atomic Energy Agency increased powers to implement safeguards, by bringing into force the Additional Protocol to their existing safeguards agreements….

33. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States and Russia launched a trilateral initiative in 1996 to explore the technical, legal and financial issues in bringing surplus fissile material stocks under IAEA verification. Russia and the United States have announced that they will submit their declared excess materials to verification "as soon as practicable" under their voluntary offer safeguards agreements with the Agency. The United Kingdom has also declared it has "excess" military material that will be placed under Euratom safeguards. The Tokyo Forum urges expansion and acceleration of these initiatives and encourages other NWS to do the same. All states with nuclear weapons programs should agree to IAEA safeguards over excess military fissile materials, including material removed from warheads dismantled under arms reduction treaties, and its early and irreversible disposal.

34. The Tokyo Forum calls on all those nuclear-weapon states that have not already done so to place all civilian stocks of fissile materials under IAEA safeguards pursuant to their voluntary offer agreements. Non-NPT states should place part of their stockpiles under IAEA safeguards at agreed annual rates, and negotiate voluntary offer agreements with the Agency. All states with civil plutonium and highly enriched uranium should make annual declarations on their holdings.

35. The Tokyo Forum urges states, whether or not they belong to the NPT, to make unilateral commitments to place under IAEA safeguards facilities previously used to produce fissile materials for nuclear explosive devices, and to decommission and dismantle facilities they have used previously for that sole purpose.

Strengthening Nuclear Export Controls and Improving Their Transparency

37. …The Tokyo Forum calls for greater transparency in nuclear-related export controls within a framework of dialogue and cooperation between members and non-members of the regimes, in the light of the agreement to this end in the Principles and Objectives decision document associated with the 1995 permanent extension of the NPT.

38. Some existing or potential suppliers of sensitive items are not members of export control regimes. The Tokyo Forum calls for expansion of the export control regimes to include current non-member suppliers, without jeopardising the effectiveness of export controls. Some efforts to this end are already underway. The admission of Russia to the NSG and MTCR was a positive step. It is now especially important to encourage China to pursue its declared policy of actively considering joining the MTCR. New members would have to adhere to the strict export control standards of the regimes for their membership to have positive results for non-proliferation.

41. The Tokyo Forum calls on those states participating only in the Zangger Committee to join the Nuclear Suppliers' Group in order to make their nuclear-related export controls more effective. The Forum also calls for strengthening of the MTCR by tightening national export licensing procedures.

42. The Tokyo Forum reiterates the need for the strict implementation of MTCR export guidelines, and calls on Russia to implement more rigorous controls on missile and nuclear weapons technology and materials. In this regard, the Forum stresses the necessity for the international community to closely cooperate with Russia in denying nuclear weapons materials and missile technology, as well as precursors for other weapons of mass destruction, to state or non-state proliferators.

Curbing Missile Proliferation

45. The Tokyo Forum urges the international community to seek realistic ways to prevent acquisition and deployment of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. A special conference of states concerned at transfers of missile technology outside the MTCR should be convened to deal with the growing problem of missile proliferation. One possible approach that merits serious consideration is the negotiation of a global agreement, or regional agreements, that would draw upon the provisions of the 1987 US-Soviet INF Treaty. Multilateralisation of the INF Treaty would have the added specific benefit of helping reduce threat perceptions in southern Asia without discriminating against specific countries. Another approach is to work in bilateral or regional frameworks, particularly in the Middle East, South Asia and Northeast Asia. Proper consideration would need to be given to the security concerns of the countries involved. Enhanced security dialogues would help create the conditions under which regional measures against missile proliferation could be envisaged.

Part Five: Key Recommendations

A decade after the end of the Cold War, at the threshold of the 21st Century, the fabric of international security is unravelling and nuclear dangers are growing at a disturbing rate. Relations among major powers are deteriorating. The United Nations is in political and financial crisis. The global regimes to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are under siege. Acts of terror are taking an increasingly worrisome turn, with the possible advent of sub-state groups armed with weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan have shown that not all countries share the view that the usefulness of nuclear weapons is declining. Years of relentless effort have not eliminated the clandestine weapons of mass destruction programs of the most determined proliferators. The US-Russia nuclear disarmament process is stalled, with adverse consequences for the global disarmament agenda. The situation in Asia is particularly fluid, portending negative changes for disarmament and non-proliferation in coming years.

Unless concerted action is taken, and taken soon, to reverse these dangerous trends, non-proliferation and disarmament treaties could become hollow instruments. A renewed sense of commitment to both non-proliferation and disarmament is urgently needed. We, the members of the Tokyo Forum, have released this report to draw attention to growing dangers and to propose remedial actions, both immediate and for the longer term.

The Forum commends the initiative of the Japanese Government in calling it into being and sustaining its work. We express the hope and expectation that the Japanese Government will continue to play a positive role in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

1. Stop and reverse the unravelling of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime by reaffirming the treaty's central bargain. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) demands both disarmament and non-proliferation. The nuclear-weapon states must demonstrate tangible progress in nuclear disarmament, while the non-nuclear-weapon states must rally behind the Treaty and take stronger steps of their own, such as adopting improved International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. To support the NPT's core bargain, a permanent secretariat and consultative commission should be created to deal with questions of compliance and to consider strengthening measures for the Treaty.

2. Eliminate nuclear weapons through phased reductions. The world faces a choice between the assured dangers of proliferation or the challenges of disarmament. The better choice is the progressive reduction and complete elimination of nuclear weapons. No other cities must be put through the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons and the agony of recovering from their effects, endured by Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nuclear weapon states must reaffirm the goal of elimination and take sustained, concrete steps towards this end.

3. Bring the nuclear test ban into force. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must be ratified urgently by those key states still holding out—the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan North Korea and Israel. All states must respect a moratorium on nuclear testing and pay their fair share of the treaty's verification costs.

4. Revitalise START and expand the scope of nuclear reductions. The Tokyo Forum calls on the United States and Russia to initiate new comprehensive talks on nuclear arms reduction and security issues, to combine the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties II and III processes, and to further extend reductions to 1,000 deployed strategic warheads. If these treaties remain stalled, we call on both countries to pursue parallel and verifiable reductions to that level. Verifiable reductions and elimination should be extended to non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear weapons. In addition, the Tokyo Forum calls on China to join the United Kingdom and France in reducing and, in the first instance, not increasing nuclear weapon inventories.

5. Adopt nuclear transparency measures. Irreversible reductions in nuclear forces require great transparency. The Tokyo Forum welcomes the transparency measures undertaken so far by the nuclear-weapon states and calls on them to take steps to increase transparency further. Recent transparency measures by the United Kingdom and France have shed considerable light on their nuclear weapons numbers and stocks. These could be further developed. The United States has put in place many transparency measures concerning its doctrines, deployments and technical developments. More information on reserve stocks would have a positive impact on steps towards nuclear disarmament. Russia has declared some aspects of its nuclear weapons program. Russia could increase the degree of transparency concerning doctrine, numbers of tactical nuclear weapons and stocks of fissile material. China has put in place few transparency measures. The implementation of further transparency measures on the numbers and types of nuclear weapons and on the amounts of fissile material should be encouraged in view of the favorable regional and global impact.

6. Zero nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The Tokyo Forum calls for all states with nuclear weapons to endorse and implement the goal of zero nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. To this end, we call on the United States and Russia to immediately stand down nuclear forces slated for reduction in START II. To eliminate the risk of the millennium computer bug leading to an accidental launch, all nuclear weapons in all states should be removed from alert for the period of concern.

7. Control fissile material, especially in Russia. We call on the United States to continue and to increase cooperative threat-reduction efforts in the former Soviet Union. The world community, especially the G8 states and the European Union, must substantially expand cooperative threat-reduction efforts. We call for the prompt conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. We further call on China, India, Pakistan and Israel to declare moratoria on producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon states should put all excess military stocks of fissile materials and civil fissile materials under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

8. Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The Tokyo Forum calls for regional and global cooperative efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of extremist, fanatical or criminal groups.

9. Strengthen measures against missile proliferation. The guidelines of the Missile Technology Control regime need to be strengthened. We call on all states, particularly North Korea, to respect these guidelines, and for expanded participation in the MTCR. The international community should explore realistic ways to control and reverse missile proliferation, including global or regional agreements drawing upon the provisions of the 1987 US-Soviet Treaty on Intermediate and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces. A special conference of concerned states should be convened to deal with the growing problem of missile proliferation.

10. Exercise caution on missile defence deployments. The Tokyo Forum recognises the uncertainties and complications missile defence deployments could produce. Recognising the security concerns posed by ballistic missiles, we call on all states contemplating the deployment of advanced missile defences to proceed with caution, in concert with other initiatives to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons.

11. Stop and reverse proliferation in South Asia. In the near term, the Tokyo Forum calls on India and Pakistan to: maintain moratoria on nuclear testing; sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; support prompt negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty; adopt and properly implement nuclear risk-reduction measures; suspend missile flight tests; confirm pledges to restrain nuclear and missile-related exports; cease provocative actions; and take steps to resolve the Kashmir dispute. In the long term, we urge India and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon states.

12. Eliminate weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The Tokyo Forum recognises the linkage between the core objectives of a Middle East that is peaceful and one free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). We call for: a revitalised Arab-Israeli peace process; resumption of an effective WMD control regime for Iraq under UN Security Council auspices; restraint on missile and flight test programs; effective and verifiable implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention by all states in the region; implementation of strengthened International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards; and Israel's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear weapon state.

13. Eliminate nuclear and missile dangers on the Korean Peninsula. The Tokyo Forum urges all parties to redouble their efforts to achieve the goal of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula as soon as possible. We call for coordinated global efforts to maintain North Korea's freeze on its graphite-moderated nuclear reactors and related facilities. All nuclear weapon and missile-related activities in North Korea must cease, including production and sale of WMD-capable missile technology. We call for the full and effective implementation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea's full compliance with an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement, and its adherence to the agency's strengthened safeguards system.

14. No vetoes in support of proliferation. The Tokyo Forum calls on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Permanent members of the Security Council have a special responsibility to prevent proliferation. We call on them to refrain from exercising their vetoes against efforts to assist or defend UN member states that have become victim to the use or the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction. All current and prospective permanent members of the UN Security Council should have exemplary non-proliferation credentials.

15. Revitalise the Conference on Disarmament. The Tokyo Forum calls on the Conference on Disarmament to revise its procedures, update its work program and carry out purposeful work, or suspend its operations. The consensus rule is causing perpetual deadlock. Consensus among members of the Conference on Disarmament should not be necessary to begin or conclude negotiations on a multilateral convention.

16. Strengthen verification for disarmament. The Tokyo Forum calls for widespread adoption of effective verification measures. The scope of verification of nuclear disarmament should be expanded to non-deployed nuclear weapons and the dismantling of nuclear weapons. An effective verification protocol should be agreed for the Biological Weapons Convention, and implementation decisions weakening the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention should be stopped and reversed.

17. Create effective non-compliance mechanisms for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The Tokyo Forum calls on all states seeking nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to actively support the development of arrangements through which states in non-compliance with arms control treaties will know not only that they will be caught, but also that they will face serious consequences. The international community must be united and unequivocal in its intended response to would-be violators based on a broad consensus, including possible recourse to Chapter VII of the UN Charter. A revitalised United Nations with a reformed and authoritative Security Council is essential to building and maintaining the support of the international community for the effective enforcement of compliance.

The Members of the Tokyo Forum
Lt. Gen. Nishat AHMAD

Former President of the Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad

Mr. Yasushi AKASHI

Former President of Hiroshima Peace Institute

Amb. Marcos Castrioto DE AZAMBUJA

Ambassador of Brazil to France

Prof. Sergei Yevgenevich BLAGOVOLIN

Deputy Director, World Economics and International Relations Institute (IMEMO), Moscow

Amb. Emilio Jorge CARDENAS

Executive Director, HSBC Argentine S.A., Former Ambassador of Argentina to the United Nations

Dr. Therese DELPECH

Director, Strategic Affairs, Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Paris

Amb. Rolf EKEUS

Ambassador of Sweden to the United States


Dean, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Prof. HAN Sung-Joo

Professor of Korea University

Mr. HU Xiaodi

Deputy Director-General, Department of Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China

Amb. Ryukichi IMAI

Distinguished Fellow, Institute for International Policy Studies, Tokyo

Dr. Joachim KRAUSE

Deputy Director, Research Institute of the German Society for Foreign Affairs (DGAP), Berlin

Mr. Michael KREPON

President, Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington


Member of the Council, International Institute of Strategic Studies, London

Dr. Patricia M. LEWIS

Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament (UNIDIR), Geneva

Amb. Margaret MASON

Director of Council Development, Canadian Council for International Peace and Security, Ottawa


Vice Chairman, Japan Institute of International Affairs, Tokyo

Dr. Joseph S. NYE, Jr.

Dean, JFK School of Government, Harvard University, Boston

Prof. Robert O'NEILL

Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Dr. Abdel Monem SAID ALY

Director, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Cairo Egypt

Prof. John SIMPSON

Director, Mountbatten Center for International Studies, Department of Politics, University of Southampton

Amb. Hennadiy UDOVENKO

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of 52nd Session of United Nations General Assembly, Member of Ukrainian Parliament

Prof. ZAKARIA Haji Ahamad

Dean, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Universiti Kebangaan Malaysia (National Univ. of Malaysia)

Divisions and Doubts At the Third NPT PrepCom

Rebecca Johnson

The states-parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will undertake a full review of the treaty in April-May 2000, the first since 1995, when the accord was effectively made permanent. The third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2000 review conference took place May 10-21 in New York amid deteriorating international relations, especially between the United States and Russia and the United States and China; a continuing stalemate over strategic nuclear arms reductions; and deadlock at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD).

After a moderately successful first meeting in 1997, the PrepCom's second meeting in 1998 had ended in failure and recriminations, principally over the issues of nuclear disarmament and Israel's possession of nuclear weapons, viewed as a threat by Israel's neighbors in the Middle East. As more than 100 delegations met at the United Nations for the third PrepCom, there was anxiety that another failure could undermine the credibility of the non-proliferation regime. Just one year after India and Pakistan shocked the world with their underground nuclear tests, and amid continuing problems over non-compliance by Iraq and North Korea, the United States and others wanted to show the NPT as enduringly strong and relevant. The 1999 meeting was able to take the procedural decisions necessary for the 2000 review conference, but could not come to any agreements over recommendations on substantive issues, particularly nuclear disarmament and the Middle East.

A closer look at what happened in New York reveals deep schisms between the nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states that, if not addressed more constructively very soon, could mean deadlock for the 2000 review conference. The PrepComs' central message to the nuclear-weapon states is that they cannot have a credible non-proliferation regime while maintaining their own nuclear weapons and security doctrines, which place fundamental reliance on the potential use of nuclear arms. Although most of the nuclear powers have made considerable efforts to present better information on their actions to reduce arsenals and curtail testing and production over the past decade, it is clear from their positions at the third PrepCom that nuclear-weapon states do not anticipate having to transform the role assigned to nuclear weapons in their security thinking, let alone give up the weapons themselves.


Background to the Review Process

The NPT, which now has 187 members, is justifiably regarded as the cornerstone of the regime to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Only five of the states-parties have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. These five had manufactured and tested nuclear weapons by January 1, 1967, the NPT cutoff date for the definition of a "nuclear-weapon state." As part of their NPT obligations, these "declared" nuclear-weapon states promised to "pursue negotiations in good faith" on nuclear disarmament.

Of the NPT's 182 non-nuclear-weapon states, several, including various European countries and, more recently, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, had nuclear weapon programs at one time. In acceding to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states, these nations have abjured the acquisition of nuclear weapons for as long as the regime remains effective or until they formally withdraw from the treaty. Regrettably, over the past decade evidence has shown two NPT parties, Iraq and North Korea, to have violated their treaty obligations by seeking to develop nuclear weapons or by failing to comply fully with the safeguards regime administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Currently, only four countries remain outside the regime: India, Israel and Pakistan—all of which possess nuclear weapons capabilities—and Cuba. In May 1998, India and Pakistan rocked the non-proliferation regime by exploding nuclear devices in defiance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which concluded but had not yet entered into force. India went on to demand recognition as a nuclear-weapon state, appearing to equate nuclear weapon possession with political and international status and privileges, which the NPT non-nuclear-weapon states are determined to reject.

The 1995 decision by NPT member-states to extend the treaty indefinitely—in effect, making it permanent—was hard fought. The United States, together with Britain, France, Russia and their allies in Europe, pushed hard for indefinite unconditional extension, gaining the support of over 100 states. Many governments, grouped in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), wanted a shorter or conditional extension of the NPT, arguing that the treaty should not be made permanent until the nuclear-weapon states had complied properly with their obligations regarding nuclear disarmament. Fourteen Arab League countries, led by Egypt, also insisted that since their security was threatened by Israel's nuclear capabilities, the treaty should not be permanently binding on them without Israel's accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state.

In the end, the decision to extend the treaty was taken without a vote (by a consensus resolution, acknowledging that a majority of votes existed to make the NPT permanent if a vote were taken), accompanied by a resolution outlining 20 "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament," a resolution on the Middle East and a resolution on strengthening the review process. The latter resolution encourages states-parties to meet in each of three years prior to the five-year review conferences to "consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality...."


The 1999 PrepCom

The third PrepCom needed to accomplish two main tasks and address several related questions. Most urgently, it needed to take the procedural decisions for organizing the 2000 review conference, including nominating a president and other officials, and finalizing the agenda, rules of procedure and background documentation. It was also expected to make recommendations to the review conference on strengthening the implementation of the treaty.

The first PrepCom had started the process of negotiating a "rolling text" of recommendations, but attempts to continue negotiations in 1998 ran into trouble and the second PrepCom was unable to adopt any working paper on the substantive issues. There were thus competing views about whether the third PrepCom should continue work on the basis of the 1997 chair's paper (the rolling text) or the rejected 1998 working paper, or start afresh and pull a new paper together.

Following proposals from Canada, South Africa, Egypt, Mexico and others at the first and second PrepComs, many wanted the third meeting to have a more thoroughgoing discussion of the purpose and objectives of the review process as a whole, including the role of the PrepComs. To assist planning for the 2000 review conference, some felt that it would help if the PrepCom could give some recommendations about what kind of documents or agreements the conference should aim to deliver.

The chair of the third PrepCom, Ambassador Camilo Reyes of Colombia, heeded the calls for a more focused discussion to clarify the aims and objectives of the review process by instigating a general debate at the beginning of the meeting. This was followed by informal sessions to discuss nuclear disarmament in general and practical terms; the fissile material cutoff negotiations now stalled at the CD; safeguards; nuclear-weapon-free zones; the 1995 resolution on the Middle East; and nuclear energy. The rest of the meeting was devoted to getting agreement on as many of the decisions and recommendations as possible, with mixed success.

The United States had been blamed for much of the failure of the 1998 PrepCom, when it rigidly refused to countenance proposals from Egypt, Canada and South Africa on addressing the Middle East resolution and nuclear disarmament. Due to greater U.S. flexibility this year, procedural decisions for preparing for the 2000 conference were able to be finalized in good time. The United States appeared more willing to recognize the resolution on the Middle East as part of the package of decisions taken in 1995, and so agreed to the preparation of documentation on the resolution by the conference Secretariat. The United States and Russia also accepted South Africa's widely supported amendment to the rules of procedure to reflect the 1995 agreements authorizing review conferences to establish subsidiary bodies. The United States and Russia made clear, however, that they did not regard subsidiary bodies as having extra powers and that each application for establishing a subsidiary body would have to be considered on its merits.

The second important task for the PrepComs was to make recommendations to the review conference on "principles, objectives and ways" to promote full implementation of the treaty. The first PrepCom had produced a chair's paper containing some paragraphs that had been negotiated and agreed upon, and a section comprising various proposals from states-parties. The second PrepCom attempted to continue negotiations aimed at consensus language for the chair's paper, but was unable to get agreement beyond the lowest common denominator and, in the end, failed to adopt the chair's paper at all. By this time, the various paragraphs and proposals comprised over 60 pages, with much repetition and redundancy.

After the general and specific discussions and airing of national statements in New York, Reyes sought to summarize the issues that came up most frequently, including:

• The importance of the NPT and non-proliferation regime and the risks of undermining it by failing to implement the strengthened review process constructively;

• Concern about the impasse in the START process, the necessity for more effective progress on nuclear disarmament and suggestions for steps that could be undertaken, with frequent and specific mention of: the need to address and preferably remove all tactical nuclear weapons and taking nuclear weapons off alert; calls for the CD to address nuclear disarmament, even to negotiate a nuclear weapons convention; and calls on all five nuclear powers to engage in more practical negotiations;

• Condemnation of the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan a year ago;

• The importance of getting sufficient signatures and ratifications for the CTBT to enter into force;

• The bombing by NATO of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia and the effect of NATO's actions on future prospects for arms control;

• Concern about the destabilizing impact of U.S. missile defense plans;

• The importance of getting negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty underway;

• Security assurances;

• Universality and adherence to the NPT, especially the need to find ways to bring India, Israel and Pakistan into the regime as non-nuclear-weapon states, as well as compliance concerns involving Iraq and North Korea, and ways to prevent violations of the treaty;

• Nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in relation to the Middle East and Central Asia;

• Nuclear energy;

• Safeguards;

• Nuclear safety and physical security; and

• Export controls.

Reyes' first draft working paper on substance (dated May 14) comprised 31 paragraphs covering eight themes: universality, non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, security assurances, safeguards, the resolution on the Middle East, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In ensuing discussions, during which many delegations proposed amendments or alternative wording, it was clear that some found the chair's paper too weak, while others thought it was too strong, at least on some issues. While there was substantial agreement on the less controversial paragraphs relating to nuclear energy, safety and safeguards, there were strongly voiced objections to others, especially the paragraphs on nuclear disarmament and "sharing" nuclear weapons within alliances (a practice among NATO countries that was strongly criticized by Russia, China and more than 100 non-aligned countries, many of which argued that the practice was inconsistent with NPT Articles I and II). After listening to the discussion on the paper and taking into account, but not necessarily incorporating, the various proposals, Reyes issued a second draft on May 20.

The revised draft comprised 61 paragraphs on the same eight themes. Again, Reyes sought to include proposals or arguments that had a high degree of support, leaving out ones that had significant opposition. Under pressure of time, Reyes refused to enter into line-by-line negotiations on the text. Instead, he went through the paragraphs to see if there were any objections. In the end, around half were opposed, although in a few of the other cases delegations had expressed reservations. One or another of the nuclear-weapon states had objected to practically everything under nuclear disarmament. The United States resisted almost all the references to the Middle East, even those that did not single out Israel. South Africa and others objected to security assurances being framed as an issue for the CD rather than the NPT. Iran objected to mentions of the Middle East peace process. China disliked the wording on nuclear control regimes. And Iraq objected to mention of its own non-compliance with the NPT, even with its name omitted.

At times during the final few days, it looked as if the third PrepCom would also fail. There was talk of calling for a fourth PrepCom or suspending the third meeting and reconvening some months later. Such an outcome would have been messy, inconvenient and ultimately expensive, but the threat helped to focus attention on solution-building and compromise. Egypt nevertheless kept insisting that nothing could be agreed unless everything was agreed, causing anxiety that even the procedural decisions would be blocked if Egypt was not satisfied with the decisions on substance and what it was getting on the Middle East resolution.

After negotiations and much huddling in small groups on the last day, a proposal from Ireland and New Zealand offered a compromise for how to deal with the recommendations contained—but not fully agreed to—in the chair's paper. The final PrepCom report, enshrining all the procedural decisions, would describe the debates on substance and annex the two working papers (from May 14 and May 20), plus all the amendments that had been proposed to the first draft. This compromise enabled some delegations, such as the United States, Russia and France, to claim that the chair's papers have no more standing than other non-agreed proposals. Since the papers were substantially discussed and referred to in the PrepCom report, other delegations argued that they reflect the major issues that will have to be confronted before and during the 2000 review conference and must consequently be given serious attention.


Objectives for 2000

Participants at the New York PrepCom had been encouraged to put forward their views about what the objectives and outcome of the review process should be and to identify what kind of documents or agreements they sought from the 2000 conference ("products" in diplomatic parlance). It emerged that the majority thought the review conference should produce at least two kinds of agreements: one looking forward and providing a yardstick for measuring future progress, along the lines of the "principles and objectives" document adopted in 1995, which had given a target date to complete the CTBT, for example; and another to review and assess progress over the past five years, similar to the "final document" of past review conferences. Divisions over how to characterize progress on nuclear disarmament had prevented agreement on such a document in 1995, as it had in 1980 and 1990.

Canada had additionally argued that the review conference should consider the functioning of the review process itself and might therefore need to consider a third document on "the further enhancement" of the strengthened review process. In 1998 and again in 1999, though without insisting on a decision this year, Canada had proposed that the PrepComs themselves should have an independent, substantive role, which could include issuing statements on contemporaneous events relevant to the NPT, such as START or nuclear testing. Similarly, if the review conferences were to replace the clustering of issues into the conferences' three main committees with an article-by-article review, the change in approach might need to be reinforced with additional decisions.

France and Iran wanted the review conference to go back to its previous pattern of negotiating and concluding only one document. Both agreed that this should contain both forward-looking and backward-looking aspects, in conformity with the 1995 decisions, but they had diametrically different reasons for preferring the review conference to have to negotiate a single set of agreements. By taking a position strongly opposed by a majority of European Union (EU) states, which favored separate documents, including a negotiated principles and objectives for 2000, France prevented a common EU position from being put forward. To the annoyance of Germany, which holds the EU presidency at present, France argued for a return to the pattern followed since 1985, with three reports generated by the main committees (nuclear disarmament, safeguards and nuclear energy), each looking both forward and backward. France also suggested there could be a common "chapeau" or synthesising document or introduction prepared by the conference chair, which might incorporate recommendations of some kind. France clearly did not want a further set of principles and objectives to be taken forward.

There was some speculation that France saw reverting to one document in 2000 as a way to return to pre-1995 patterns and expectations. France certainly wants to ensure that the progress made since 1995 is properly recorded and appreciated. Like the United States in 1998 and again in 1999, France, Britain and Russia this year presented the PrepCom with factsheets or brochures setting out their achievements in nuclear reductions and disarmament.

In a glossy brochure produced especially for the occasion, France proudly announced how it had ended nuclear testing and the production of fissile materials for weapons, and was now the first nuclear power to close and dismantle its test sites in the Pacific and its facilities at Marcoule and Pierrelatte for producing military plutonium and highly enriched uranium. During the 1990s, France withdrew all but two of its nuclear weapon systems, scaling down to four submarines (Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines) and Super Étendard strike aircraft and, like the other nuclear states, has detargeted its weapons (although they can be retargeted in minutes).

In undertaking these steps, however, Paris may have gone as far as it is prepared to go. A new set of principles and objectives with a program of action as a yardstick for measuring progress after 2000 may therefore be the last thing France wants. It may be the last thing any of the nuclear powers want, but the others may not yet feel as exposed as France. The United States and Russia are still committed to further reductions, if they can overcome the obstacles to the START process, and Britain is more positive than France about further opportunities for transparency and confidence-building among the nuclear powers. China is habitually silent on such questions, letting others argue them out.

Iran contended that the review and program of action should be combined into a single document so that the review conference would have to stand or fall by whether it could reach agreement. Others, including Mexico and Egypt, shifted toward the Iranian position that a single document would provide greater leverage on the nuclear-weapon states. Iran's argument was based on the premise that the weapon states would not want to risk a total failure in 2000; two or more documents would allow them to pick and choose what they agreed to. They might present adoption of one document as a conference success even if others failed. Iran also seemed to want to avoid having dual-track negotiations, such as occurred in 2000, when the decisions on strengthening the review process were negotiated among about 25 key delegations under the chair's auspices, while the rest pursued the review negotiations in the main committees. At that time, most considered the chair's consultations to be the major game, relegating the committee work to secondary status. Some advocates of one document want to avoid institutionalizing a process of conducting the principal negotiations among a select group of states, and fear that this would happen if parallel negotiating tracks were set up. Mexico also argued that any objectives or forward-looking measures should arise from a thorough review and analysis of the treaty's implementation to date, and could not therefore be separated out.

Agreement on recommendations on the products or outcome of the 2000 review conference slipped further away as the PrepCom progressed, so Reyes settled for consensus on a document that hedged the options and merely reinforced the 1995 decisions, in all their ambiguity. Once again, Egypt achieved a mention of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, together with the decisions on principles and objectives and strengthening the review process, reinforcing their validity as a package. South Africa, which will chair the 2000 conference, was disappointed that a more specific recommendation for two primary documents had not been made, as its delegation believed such a decision would have assisted its planning and structuring in 2000. In view of the strong opposition to two documents from France and the growing number of non-aligned states latching onto Iran's position, the best that the third PrepCom could do was to air the options and arguments. By holding consultations over the next year, South Africa may be able to get agreement before the 2000 conference. If not, it will have to start with a flexible approach and steer the conference into making the required decisions, deciding as the review progresses whether to aim for one, two or more documents.


The Nuclear-Weapon States

The United States led the way in 1997 in providing more detailed information on what it was doing to control, reduce and dismantle nuclear weapons and deal with the weapons materials. The U.S. delegation provided a further factsheet to the third PrepCom, entitled "The U.S. Commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons." Quoting statements by President Bill Clinton regarding the goal of nuclear disarmament, the factsheet outlined U.S. efforts in reducing strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and reducing the roles and risks associated with nuclear weapons, and presented its case on the CTBT, cessation of plutonium production and the disposition of fissile materials. Information was included on other initiatives, including U.S. efforts on the physical protection of nuclear material and U.S. support for strengthened IAEA safeguards.

However, a group of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) challenged the factsheet's claims. They provided information on nuclear weapon modernization programs and juxtaposed the statements of presidential commitment to "the ultimate goal" of nuclear disarmament with Presidential Decision Directive 60 and recent documents from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which affirm that the United States will continue to rely on nuclear arms as a cornerstone of its national security for the indefinite future, with provision for the use of nuclear weapons against chemical and biological threats. The NGOs also noted that the CTBT has yet to be ratified by the United States, and that the U.S. stockpile stewardship program was intended to compensate for the test ban by providing design capabilities greater than those available during the Cold War, thereby circumventing a primary objective of the nuclear test ban treaty.

Under pressure from the United States, Russia also provided more detail on its efforts to implement the CTBT, but noted that the government's attempts to persuade the Duma to ratify START II had been severely hampered by the actions of NATO and the United States, including NATO expansion, the continued siting of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe under NATO nuclear-sharing arrangements, and the alliance's actions in bombing Yugoslavia. Russia also criticized U.S. determination to push ahead with missile defense programs and its cavalier attitude toward the ABM Treaty and other bilateral agreements and understandings.

Britain, having concluded its strategic defense review shortly after the second PrepCom in 1998, was also keen to publicize the actions it has taken since 1995. Its delegation offered an information pack describing the decisions and policy underpinnings of the strategic defense review and recent policy statements from the secretary of state for defense, George Robertson. France, as discussed above, for the first time issued a glossy brochure with charts and figures. Only China did not heed U.S. exhortations for the nuclear-weapon states to pay more attention to public relations and the necessity of presenting their actions and reductions more effectively.

Following the bombing of its embassy in Yugoslavia, China's delegation refused to participate in meetings with the other nuclear powers aimed at negotiating a collective statement to make to the PrepCom, as had been done in 1997 and 1998. Though these statements went barely further than rhetoric, they were regarded by some as symbolically important. In particular, the United States and Britain had hoped to persuade the other nuclear powers to pledge further efforts in transparency, something that China is particularly reluctant to offer. Beijing claims that the small size of its nuclear arsenal would make transparency too risky, increasing its vulnerability vis-à-vis the other nuclear powers or potential aggressors.

China's main approach was to argue that its doctrine of no-first use, rejection of deterrence concepts, and restraint in the buildup of its arsenal over the years was proof of its commitment to the NPT. Other than that, China gave no information on its nuclear forces or any measures it had undertaken since 1995. Several of China's interventions castigated "US-led NATO's…gunboat policies" and attempts to gain international hegemony. China considered that the use of force in international relations and recent events, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia, were not conducive to international security and stability and jeopardized efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Much of China's policy approach had been laid out before the PrepCom in the speech by President Jiang Zemin to the CD in March. Though his statement covered the range of disarmament-related topics, it particularly raised concerns about programs for anti-missile systems and the weaponization of space, condemning the "research, development, deployment and proliferation of sophisticated anti-missile system[s]" and any attempts to revise or withdraw from the ABM Treaty, "on which global strategic equilibrium hinges." China is known to be concerned not only about U.S. plans, but about the likelihood of Japan and possibly Taiwan being assisted to develop national missile defense programs. Raising fears of "a new round of arms race in new areas," Jiang argued that the international community "should pay close attention to this and adopt the necessary measures to pre-empt such dangerous developments." Jiang had also emphasized that the indefinite extension of the NPT "has by no means given nuclear-weapon states the prerogative to permanently retain their nuclear weapons." He reiterated China's long-held position on security assurances and no-first-use, and advocated negotiations on a "convention on the comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons." These positions were all emphasized during the PrepCom.

The third PrepCom revealed fundamental schisms in how the nuclear powers and a growing group of non-nuclear-weapon states want nuclear disarmament to be addressed in the context of the NPT. Apart from their stated commitments to the CTBT (which the United States, Russia and China have yet to ratify) and to negotiating a ban on fissile material production at the CD, the nuclear-weapon states said little about further concrete steps they would be prepared to take or about how to move beyond the impasse in the START process. Almost echoing China's points about conditions not being "conducive" to good progress, the United States commented that "external realities" such as "domestic and international policy factors, the global security environment, and...financial resources" were related to the process of arms control and disarmament.


The Non-Nuclear-Weapon States

During the New York meeting, a newly established grouping of states, spanning the traditional Cold War-era East/West/non-aligned blocs, emerged to play an important role at the third PrepCom. The New Agenda Coalition (NAC), originally formed in June 1998 by the foreign ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden, combined hard-hitting calls for nuclear disarmament with a more pragmatic strategic approach. The NAC presented a joint statement by 32 delegations that echoed the ideas from its resolution (53/77Y) to the UN General Assembly, which had garnered 114 votes in December 1998. The statement was followed up with a working paper cosponsored by 44 states.

After reviewing the arms control landscape, including the START process, the CTBT, nuclear testing in South Asia, failure to make progress on negotiating a fissile materials ban and security assurances, the NAC statement concluded that "the pace of efforts to implement all the obligations of the NPT is faltering." Concerned that the weapon states were reaffirming their nuclear doctrines and re-rationalizing the continued possession of nuclear weapons, the NAC accused them of not fulfilling their obligations with sufficient vigor and emphasized that "we must not enter the next millennium with the prospect that the retention of these weapons will be considered legitimate for the indefinite future."

The coalition called for mutually reinforcing bilateral, plurilateral (among the declared nuclear-weapon states) and multilateral efforts to be pursued in concert, including greater progress on deeper cuts and steps to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies, including de-alerting and de-mating warheads from delivery vehicles and reducing reliance on non-strategic nuclear weapons, as well as transparency and confidence-building measures. Critical of NATO's recent affirmation of the central role played by nuclear weapons in the alliance's new "strategic concept," the NAC also called for "the early examination of measures to enhance strategic stability and to review strategic doctrines."

While not joining the NAC, Japan and Canada also proposed more far-reaching programs to accelerate progress on nuclear disarmament. Japan warned that unless the tasks of nuclear disarmament were "thoroughly addressed, the NPT could lose its credibility," with grave consequences. After emphasizing the importance of the START process, the CTBT and the CD's cutoff talks, Japan and Canada both called for direct engagement in disarmament talks by all five nuclear-weapon states "in the near future." Like many, Japan and Canada also underscored the importance of practical measures such as de-alerting and de-targeting, as well as assistance in dismantling nuclear weapons and managing and disposing of the resultant fissile materials.

Canada was also among a diverse group, including the NAC, Finland, Switzerland, Nigeria and the Kyrgyz Republic, to raise the problems of tactical nuclear weapons. Concerned that the role of non-strategic nuclear weapons could increase in importance again, these delegations advocated measures ranging from greater transparency and confidence-building to reductions and even elimination, preferably with verification arrangements. Russia, which has in recent months indicated a growing reliance on tactical nuclear weapons, hinting at the possibility of redeploying some weapon systems in Belarus with the consent of the Belarusan government. Referring to the 1991 Bush-Gorbachev initiative, Gregori Berdennikov nevertheless said Russia supported the implementation of "declared unilateral initiatives" on tactical nuclear weapons. China and Russia both supported calls for the U.S. tactical nuclear weapons currently stationed in seven NATO countries be withdrawn back to U.S. territory.

Meaning to deflate the NAC, Norman A. Wulf, head of the U.S. delegation to the third PrepCom, dismissed those "trying to identify a new agenda" for disarmament and said that "we have an existing agenda that remains to be completed." While many agreed that much more work needed to be done to fulfill the START process and commitments to negotiate a fissile materials production ban, calls for further measures came from across the board. The nuclear-weapon states may have found it easy to dismiss the familiar NAM proposals at the CD to negotiate a timetable for nuclear disarmament, but they found the more pragmatic arguments at the PrepCom more challenging.


A Final Assessment

If measured by the limited criteria of preparing the procedural decisions for the 2000 NPT review conference, the third PrepCom was successful. Having held bilateral meetings with Egypt through much of the year, the United States showed itself much more prepared to seek compromise solutions. It allowed the Middle East resolution, which calls for full adherence to the NPT by all countries in the region, to be linked several times with the decisions taken in 1995, and agreed to have the UN secretariat prepare a factual document on the resolution as part of the background documentation for the 2000 conference. The United States was even prepared to have Israel named in calls for universality, together with India, Pakistan and Cuba, but would not let Israel be singled out in relation to the Middle East. The Egyptian delegation, which for a while appeared divided on whether to block adoption of the report and decisions if it did not get its way on centralizing the resolution on the Middle East and paving the way for further work in 2000 and beyond, also compromised at the end rather than jeopardize the agreements already obtained.

Nevertheless, even with a more constructive government now elected in Israel, the problems caused by that country's acquisition of nuclear weapons and U.S. attempts to shield it from censure will not go away. Though the United States may consider that the greater attention paid to the nuclear tests and ambitions of India and Pakistan can be used to distract attention from Israel, the reverse is likely to be true. A growing number of NPT parties want to find ways to exert more intense pressure on all three de facto nuclear-weapon states remaining outside the treaty. Though Egypt will continue to lead the Arab states in trying to use the NPT to highlight and condemn Israel's nuclear policies, the United States is probably correct in its present assumption that wider security calculations would prevent Egypt from threatening the credibility of the treaty altogether or withdrawing. It would be dangerously complacent, however, to assume that such calculations will last indefinitely.

The PrepCom was never only about procedural preparations, though planning for the next review conference was an important function. If placed against wider aspirations, the PrepCom largely failed to decide on any of the substantive, politically controversial questions with which it was faced. All the important proposals were shunted off for the states-parties to deal with at the 2000 review conference. Some might argue that this was inevitable, given that the review process, as set up in 1995, appears to leave all decision-making to the review conferences. The PrepComs were, however, assigned a more substantive role, and it was not expected that this would amount to a series of national monologues and endless negotiations over the wording on paragraphs destined only for the next meeting to consider, along with its own deliberations.

While it must be acknowledged that the PrepCom was taking place in difficult political circumstances, overshadowed by the war over Kosovo, the United States and China were right to relate the prospects for constructive arms control to political and international conditions. The policies of both, however, are contributing to the dismal forecasts. Russia's renewed assertion of the efficacy of nuclear weapons as a guarantee of security and political weight may be understandable, but is incompatible with nuclear non-proliferation and further progress on nuclear disarmament. Britain and France may have rationalized their nuclear forces at significantly lower levels over the past decade, but they will not be able to ignore the growing calls for them to engage in collective endeavors to facilitate qualitative as well as quantitative nuclear disarmament in the future. India's more public nuclear ambitions have exposed weaknesses in the way in which the non-proliferation regime had sought to turn a blind eye toward the capabilities of those outside the treaty. The division between the "declared" nuclear-weapon states and India, Israel and Pakistan is not as sharp as some would like. The regime needs to find more credible ways to address and contain the nuclear threats and risks posed by those outside the treaty, in the Middle East as well as South Asia. Double standards will undermine the regime, now more than ever. For such an approach to be effective it will need to be combined with an overall delegitimization and rejection of nuclear weapons.

Discussions over some of the paragraphs in the chair's working papers indicate the major issues likely to arise in 2000 and should serve as a warning of where pressure will come. In particular, something urgently needs to be done to bridge the fundamental differences between the approach of the weapon states, which see their obligations primarily in terms of presenting better information on their activities, and the majority of non-nuclear-weapon states, which will go to the 2000 review determined to get agreement on a more concrete program of action on nuclear disarmament, probably including de-alerting, restrictions on modernization and constraints or withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons.

Spurred on by the New Agenda Coalition, even if they do not join it, the non-nuclear-weapon states are likely to be better organized in 2000 than they were in 1995. Unless the weapon states—and the United States in particular—recognize that their nuclear policies contradict their non-proliferation objectives, the NPT is in for a very rocky ride. If some states expect to retain significant nuclear arsenals and cling to security policies that continue to fuel other states' nuclear ambitions, the 2000 review conference is likely to be the arena for a large and messy clash of expectations, with a very high risk of deadlock and failure.

Rebecca Johnson is the executive director of the Acronym Institute in London.

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