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Research Report

The 2000 NPT Review Conference: Challenges and Prospects

Tariq Rauf
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2002
Pages: 60
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 4-5)

    The Sixth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)– the first important multilateral arms control forum of the new millennium–will be held at United Nations headquarters from 24 April through 19 May 2000. Already expectations have been lowered regarding the review of the operation and implementation of the Treaty during the five years since the historic 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) which agreed without a vote to an inter-linked package of decisions and resolution that extended the Treaty indefinitely, on 11 May 1995.

    The fractious nature of the debates...

  2. (pp. 5-6)

    The NPT remains a three-part bargain–nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament, and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under safeguards–with each part retaining equal importance. The Treaty itself does not refer to any pre-conditions for either nuclear nonproliferation or for nuclear disarmament. Each of these goals can be pursued either separately or in tandem with each other.

    In general sovereign States join multilateral security regimes primarily out of narrow self interest not altruism. Furthermore, the preponderant majority of States take their regime commitments seriously and in many instances are prepared to continue to accept such commitments even when...

  3. (pp. 6-6)

    The conduct of the 2000 Review Conference will be governed, in large part, through the lens of the 1995 package of extension decisions and resolution, as well as the record of achievements or lack thereof in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament over the preceding five years (1995-2000).

    Decision 1 on “Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty,”¹ elaborated a framework for an enhanced and a more substantive Treaty review process to facilitate a full and balanced review of the implementation of the NPT and to forward recommendations on future steps to the quinquennial NPT Review Conferences.

    Decision 2 on “Principles...

  4. (pp. 6-13)

    The NPT signed on 1 July 1968 remains the bedrock of the post-World War II global nonproliferation regime. With 187 States party, this Treaty is the most widely adhered to and the most successful multilateral arms control agreement in history. Today, only four states remain non-parties: Cuba, India, Israel, and Pakistan. The NPT remains a crucial three-part bargain–nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament, and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under safeguards.

    Furthermore, the Treaty “is not a stand-alone instrument. It is the centrepiece of a nuclear arms control regime consisting of a series of interlocking international treaties, arrangements...

  5. (pp. 13-35)

    Previous review conferences have traditionally addressed substantive matters in terms of the three general objectives of the NPT: nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament and safeguarded cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy under a three Main Committee structure. It is likely, though not a foregone conclusion, that the format for a structured and balanced review will continue, however, the merits of an article-by-article review might be examined in the search for a rational, efficient and productive review process. In practice, however, the next review conference will have to deal with substantive issues of two types: issues emanating directly from the...

  6. (pp. 35-44)

    The traditional view of States regarding the scope of previous NPT review conferences was that it was the implementation of the Treaty that was being reviewed. The Treaty remained the source of legally binding commitments on the part of signatory States and, therefore, it was the Treaty which lay at the heart of the review process–in terms of “assuring that the purposes of the Preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realized”–as noted in Article VIII.3.

    Given the context of the negotiation in 1995 on the decisions and resolution adopted by that Conference, and the conduct...

  7. (pp. 44-44)

    Even though the Cold War has ended and the old ideological divisions have been transformed for the most part, on international security issues the traditional regional groupings persist, despite their not being reflective of the current status of the international community. It can be said that all three regional groupings are facing internal stresses and strains. The Western group no longer represents a homogenous viewpoint, and within it a sub-group–the European Union–is emerging as a force with its own interests. Some non-nuclear-weapon states within the Western group, contrary to the preferences of their nuclear-weapon states allies and other...

  8. (pp. 44-49)

    Decision 1 of the 1995 NPTREC, “Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty”, clarified and further enhanced the modalities for future reviews of the NPT. Paragraph 3 of Decision 1 stipulated that: “The [1995 NPT Review and Extension] Conference decided that, beginning in 1997, the Preparatory Committee should hold, normally for a duration of 10 working days, a meeting in each of the three years prior to the Review Conference. If necessary, a fourth preparatory meeting may be held in the year of the Conference”. As discussed in an earlier section dealing with the strengthened review process of the NPT...

  9. (pp. 49-49)

    In sum, even though the Preparatory Committee devoted more time to discussing substantive matters as compared to procedural issues, the only conclusion that can be reached is that the “strengthened review process” was undermined principally by the NWS, with a contributing part played by unprepared or under-prepared delegations.

    None of the NWS contributed intellectual or conceptual capital toward the elaboration or development of a strengthened review process. They were satisfied by merely criticizing or opposing many constructive ideas or concepts advanced by certain NNWS.

    Most, though not all, of the NWS however made an effort to table documents describing their...

  10. (pp. 49-52)

    All past NPT Review Conferences have sought to reach an outcome, that is to produce a “Final Declaration” on the review and implementation of the Treaty as well as highlighting additional measures that could be taken in the future on enhancing the Treaty regime. The 1995 NPTREC had the additional task of producing an outcome on the future duration of the Treaty in accordance with Article X.2. Three out of the previous five review conferences have failed to agree on a “Final Document”–1980, 1990 and 1995.

    Decision 1 on “strengthened reviews” recommended in its paragraph 7 that review conferences...

  11. (pp. 52-54)

    While NPTREC Decision 1 clearly established that the purpose of the Preparatory Committee meetings is to undertake both preparatory and substantive work for the review of the operation of the Treaty in keeping with article VIII, paragraph 3, taking into account the decisions and the resolution adopted by the 1995 NPTREC, it became painfully evident at the PrepComs in 1998 and again in 1999 that the NWS have scant interest in or commitment to ensuring a qualitatively new strengthened review process that goes beyond tedious statements on matters of substance. They clearly opposed the preparatory committee becoming an on-going review...