Week 2 of the NPT PrepCom
Throughout the NPT PrepCom, states voiced their growing concerns about the lack of implementation by the NWS on the commitments to Article VI of the NPT, the centerpiece of the grand bargain between both the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) and the nuclear weapon states (BWS). These tensions reached their zenith when states reviewed the Chair’s deeply flawed “factual summary.”
Upon examination of the Chair’s summary, it is evident that the Chair did not fairly reflect the current dire situation with respect to the NWS’ nuclear disarmament commitments.
As specified in paragraph 12, the Chair indicated:
States parties reaffirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of article VI, and that such implementation was essential to the Treaty. They recalled the unequivocal undertaking made by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, taking into account the special responsibility of States possessing the largest nuclear arsenals. They reaffirmed the responsibility of all States parties to fully implement their obligations under Article VI and to ensure tangible progress in nuclear disarmament.
Unfortunately, as raised by the New Agenda Coalition and several other states, paragraph 12 does not fully reflect the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament Instead, the reference about the NWS’ obligations has been reframed to take into account the special responsibility of States possessing the largest nuclear arsenals.” Subsequently, the NAC noted that the Chair should have mentioned the “unequivocal undertaking, given at 2000 NPT Review Conference, and reaffirmed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
Additionally, as outlined in paragraph 19, the Chair noted that “only some of the NWS’ nuclear weapons modernization programs are not consistent with commitments made under the NPT.”
The NAC contended that his aforementioned reference implied “that there are some nuclear weapon modernization programs that are consistent with NPT undertakings and the object and purpose of the Treaty. Any such view is contested by many States Parties here.”
Paragraph 40 and Paragraph 41: The Two Paragraphs on the TPNW
The most egregious issue was how the Chair reflected the discussions on the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW. In regards to paragraph 40, the Chair stated:
The conclusion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 7 July 2017 was noted. A number of States parties informed about the ratification process and status of this treaty. It was asserted that the TPNW represented an effective measure under Article VI of the NPT by creating a legally-binding prohibition on nuclear weapons. It was stressed that the TPNW complemented the NPT and was designed to strengthen existing disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation regimes.
If one did not attend the NPT PrepCom and merely read the summary, they would assume that the vast majority of states merely noted the TPNW. As explained by the NAC, Austria, Brazil, South Africa, Costa Rica, Ireland, and other states, paragraph 40 does not welcome the TPNW. The chair further failed to mention that the number of States Parties provide information about their ratification process and status.
In contrast to paragraph 40, the Chair stipulated:
Other States parties expressed their opposition to the TPNW, emphasizing the crucial link between progress on disarmament and the international security environment. It was asserted that the TPNW would not contribute to the reduction or limitation of nuclear weapons. These states noted that the TPNW does not reflect customary international law and thus could bind only its signatories. Concerns were expressed that the TPNW could create an alternative and contrary standard to the NPT.
This aforementioned paragraph provides a detailed account about the positon amongst a group of states against the TPNW. However, the Chair does not reflect that only a few states parties expressed their opposition to the treaty. Therefore, if one did not attend the NPT PrepCom, one would assume that a substantive number of states opposed the treaty.
The NAC, Austria, Brazil, South Africa, Costa Rica, and Ireland criticized the lack of balance in the language referencing to the TPNW. Additionally, Brazil expressed its concerns on how the Chair reflected the discussions between the TPNW and the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament.
In comparison to the reference about the TPNW, the Chair noted that the states parties welcomed the Group of Eminent Persons’ Report. However, the Group of Eminent Persons’ report is a flawed report because it acknowledges that “in an extreme situation in which the survival of the state is at a risk, a state “may either threaten another with nuclear weapons or use nuclear weapons against state.” This is a dangerous conclusion and should not be welcomed in the Chair’s factual summary. It is also unfortunate that the Chair contended that the vast majority of the states parties welcomed the aforementioned report, instead of the TPNW.