Late Night Thoughts on NPT Prep Com
By Gunnar Westberg, M.D.
I will not summarize the conference; this has been done very well by John Loretz.
After a conference which has not been a big success – which a PrepCom can never be – I tend to ruminate on the question: How to do it better next time. And in this case, even more the next next time, the NPT Review Conference in New York April 26 to May 21 2010, the event when the treaty shall be re-evaluated and the direction to a world free of nuclear weapons shall be decided.
For us, I see three most important tasks up till then: To make the Nuclear Weapons Convention a centrepiece of the NPT process; to promote some of the ideas of the “Gang of Four”; to make the 13 steps from the NPT Rev in 2000 practical reality.
We should decide during the fall 2008 how to make our priorities.
NWC and the Blue Book “Securing our Survival”. We have tried to make the convention recognized with relatively little success. Few diplomats have read it, most have not even looked into it. Up until the next NPT PrepCom May 4-14 2009 in New York it should be a priority to get as many diplomats and their advisers as possible to read at least parts of the book. We shall also ask them to offer their criticism of the content and to tell us why “it won’t work”. Maybe the critics are right: The time has not come. If so, when? And why?
Probably we will find that the NWC is the right tool and the time is right. If so, we should concentrate on getting it discussed as much as possible within the U.N. and at the NPT PrepCom.
The “Gang of Four” proposals (anyone found a better name yet?). The four Grey Eminences have now received the support of a large majority of the still living former Secretaries of State, National Security Advisers and Secretaries of defense. And the support from Barack Obama. Indeed remarkable, considering they are explicitly demanding that for the security of the USA all nuclear weapons shall be abolished. They have also got an organization to work for them, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and with that the support of Ted Turner. They are spreading the message world wide. Great!
We shall be shouting our Hurrahs, but keep our fingers crossed. This idea may have arrived too late. Ten years ago Russia would probably have agreed, today this is more uncertain. Put yourself in the place of the Russian generals: “In a world without nuclear weapons the USA will reign supreme. If the US demands access to our Russian oil, gas and minerals on their conditions and at their price, how can we stop them? The Red Army is in disarray, the only weapons we can trust are nukes”. I am concerned that Russia will make heavy demands requesting both a decrease in the US non-nuclear forces and serious commitments and non-aggression treaties. Will the new US administration see how important the issue is and accept compromises?
Let’s hope, and support. Every peace group will do the same. But the basic flaw in the approach of these statesmen is obvious: They speak primarily for the security of the US. We speak for the security of the world.
The Thirteen steps from NPT Review 2000 are what the diplomats in the Non-nuclear weapon states are likely to go for. Here are many chances to build alliances and try different approaches. IPPNW should not devote too much energy to the details, that is not our strength. We should keep reminding the nuclear weapon states of their solemn pledges to work for a nuclear weapons free world. A CTBT, a Fissile material treaty is just a tool, a condition to be met, on that road.
In the fall of 2008 we should agree on our strategy for NPT Rev 2010. We should make plans to meet with Foreign Office diplomats in many countries, before both the 2009 Prep and 2010 NPT Rev, with a concise agenda and plans for follow up. We need the support from the Central Office to encourage and keep track of these activities.