IPPNW, ICAN bring abolition message to NPT PrepCom
By John Loretz
When nuclear weapon states give themselves credit for dismantling aging and outdated strategic weapons, while maintaining silence about their investments in programs to build 21st century arsenals, what are non-nuclear-weapon states to think?
Do non-nuclear -weapon states have an obligation to uphold their end of the bargain under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whether or not the nuclear-weapon states ever make good on their own commitments?
Can global expansion of the nuclear energy industry take place without jeopardizing the entire non-proliferation regime?
When will the promise of the NPT be fulfilled through the negotiation and adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) to abolish the only weapons capable of destroying humanity?
These questions [see answers below], among others, were raised loudly by IPPNW and representatives of more than 60 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who participated in the second Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference in Geneva.
More than a dozen doctors, medical students, and staff guaranteed a strong IPPNW presence at the PrepCom, promoting the Convention among diplomats and other NGOs, attending ICAN workshops, organizing a “Nuclear Weapon Free – My Cuppa Tea” event, and taking part in a simulation game to negotiate an NWC. Former co-president Gunnar Westberg presented an IPPNW paper on the climate effects of regional nuclear war, during a formal NGO session in the PrepCom assembly hall.
Unlike the failed 2005 Review and the 2007 PrepCom, where procedural wrangling effectively prevented substantive discussion, many state delegations openly pressed the nuclear weapon states to make deeper, faster, and more permanent cuts in their arsenals, while insisting that the non-proliferation terms of the Treaty (Articles I and II) must go hand-in-hand with disarmament (Article VI).
The not-so-hidden agenda of nuclear energy supplier states—led most aggressively by Russia and the US—to use the Treaty as a staging ground for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and the development of multinational uranium enrichment centers was even more apparent at this PrepCom than it was a year ago in Vienna. The beleaguered US-India nuclear technology deal, which seriously undermines the non-proliferation goals of the NPT, became a focal point of across-the-board NGO opposition to the so-called peaceful uses of nuclear energy enshrined in Article IV.
Nevertheless, this was a PrepCom that ended without substantive decisions or official recommendations. Any hopes for a positive outcome in 2010 now hinge on the decisions made at the 2009 PrepCom in New York.
[ANSWER KEY: 1) What else can they think? The nuclear weapon states are far from compliance with Article VI. 2) Yes. But can anyone wonder why they are losing patience with the double standard? 3) No. 4) As soon as civil society demands it loudly and effectively enough.]