With the 2005 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) set to kick off yesterday at United Nations Headquarters in New York, senior officials stressed the importance of restoring confidence in the landmark accord, some 35 years after it came into force.
Although concerned about an ‘erosion of confidence’ in the NPT – a sentiment expressed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his recent report ‘In Larger Freedom’ – the States parties to the Treaty believed it was an important instrument, which must fulfil its objectives and purposes, said Brazilian Ambassador Sergio de Queiroz Duarte.
Briefing correspondents in his capacity as President of the 2005 Review Conference of the State parties to the NPT, which will run through 27 May, Mr. Duarte said he was positive that all parties would work together to increase confidence in the Treaty and increase its capacity to respond to the challenges of the day.
Considered a landmark agreement, the 1968 Treaty seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology, foster the peaceful use of nuclear energy and further the goal of general and complete disarmament.
Adherence to the NPT by 188 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States, renders the accord the most widely adhered to multilateral disarmament instrument.
Joining Mr. Duarte was UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe. To a question on how important the Conference was to the success of the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, Mr. Abe said the Conference was a key occasion to discuss some of the points presented in the ‘In Larger Freedom’ report, and that he hoped a positive result would emerge.
Many of the nuclear-related proposals of that report were in the hands of the Review Conference or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he noted. Therefore, it was an important opportunity to implement the report’s proposals.
Asked how important a successful outcome of the review was to the Treaty’s future, Mr. Duarte said he felt it was very essential to reach a successful, consensus outcome on ways and means to reinforce the Treaty, which would help fulfil its objectives in a manner that was seen as useful.
‘Personally, I feel that not reaching a consensus outcome…could be very negative for the Treaty itself,’ he said, adding that all parties had a genuine desire to make the Treaty effective in the cause of disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
As for how the Conference intended to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran, Mr. Duarte recalled that the former had withdrawn from the Treaty [in January 2003] and so was not a party to it.
Some parties, however, believed that the status of the DPRK should not be the subject of discussion right now, so as not to prejudice the ongoing consultations known as the ‘six-party talks.’
In previous conferences, it was agreed not to consider the status of the DPRK in order not to prejudice those talks. While that idea still prevailed, it would not prevent the parties from discussing the issue of Article 10, which dealt with withdrawal.
He added that the results of the deliberations by the IAEA on Iran, which was a party to the Treaty, would be examined by the Conference.
Asked what was being done to draw in the three nuclear powers not party to the Treaty – India, Israel and Pakistan – Mr. Duarte recalled that past review conferences had called on those States to join the Treaty as non-nuclear powers, a call he expected the 2005 Conference to renew.