2015 Review Conference to Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons - part 1

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SIX OFFICIAL 22-May-2015 00:38:51
Consensus Eludes Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference as Positions Harden on Ways to Free Middle East of Mass Destruction Weapons
NPT Review Conference, 15th Meeting (PM)
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After weeks of intense debate, States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded the month-long 2015 Review Conference this evening, unable to reach consensus on an outcome text that would have delineated steps to speed progress on nuclear disarmament, advance non-proliferation and work towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

The Treaty belonged to all States parties, declared Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, President-designate of the Conference, underlining the imperative of all to demonstrate a willingness to compromise. The objective of the final document was not intended to ask delegations to abandon their principles. Rather, it was a package of components that represented the Conference’s collective, best efforts. Despite progress made over the last four weeks, contending visions for the future had made it impossible to produce a consensual document, she said.

Many of the more than 35 speakers regretted the lack of agreement on key issues, including closing legal gaps on a nuclear weapons ban. At the centre of the disagreement over the 184-paragraph draft text were references to convening a conference on establishing a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The proposed text would have entrusted the Secretary-General to convene the conference by March 2016.

The United Kingdom’s delegate called the issue a “stumbling block”, while the United States’ representative said that that initiative must stem from all countries of the region. Unfortunately, the language used was not compatible with her country’s policies, and several States were unwilling to compromise. She rejected attempts by some countries to “cynically manipulate” the Review Conference. Canada’s speaker said the proposed text, which was presented to delegations at 2 a.m., sought to “impose” an outcome on all, including Israel.

It was indeed a sad day for the NPT, said Egypt’s representative, as the 1995 resolution on a Middle East zone had underpinned the Treaty’s indefinite extension. He said the world community was witnessing the fallacy of the 1995 process. Tunisia’s delegate, speaking for the Arab Group, agreed that that resolution remained valid, and he urged its swift implementation. Regardless of some flaws in the final document, he said the Group supported it. Iran’s delegate expressed deep disappointment at the fact that, despite the tremendous efforts made by most of the participants over four weeks, consensus had been blocked.

The representative of Austria, speaking for more than 20 signatories of the Austrian Pledge on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, said the draft fell dramatically short of filling the legal gaps needed to ensure disarmament. He noted a clear shift in the balance and tone of the discussions, including by the non-nuclear-armed States, which were more vocal in expressing their concerns.

As for the negotiating process, some delegates voiced disappointment at the lack of inclusivity and transparency, including from Thailand and Singapore, who said that agreed negotiated paragraphs had simply not appeared in the final text.

The Conference, concluding its business, adopted a number of procedural documents and took note of the report of its Credentials Committee.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Marshall Islands, Nigeria, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Costa Rica, Algeria, Syria, Brazil, Germany, Russian Federation, Cuba, China, Myanmar, Ireland, Peru, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Palau, Switzerland, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa and France, as well as a representative of the European Union Delegation.
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