Press Conference by Preparatory Committee Chairman for 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

15 May 2009

Press Conference by Preparatory Committee Chairman for 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

15 May 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




Delegates at the just-concluded Third Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference today adopted an agenda and reportfor the 2010 summit -- a “good omen” that reflected encouraging political realities and a fresh, cooperative spirit, which had eluded past meetings, Committee Chair Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe said at a Headquarters press conference.

The third meeting -- held from 4 to 15 May in New York -- was the last of the usual three sessions organized prior to the Review Conference.  (See Press Release DC/3174)  Delegates also agreed on the next President of the Review Conference and other procedural matters.  They had hoped to adopt a set of recommendations for the Review Conference, which would have marked the first such occurrence, but fell short of reaching agreement, mainly due to a shortage of time.

Recommendations would have been a bonus, said Mr. Chidyausiku, especially given that the last round of Preparatory Committee meetings had fallen short of reaching an agenda prior to the 2005 Review Conference.  Recommendations were normally negotiated at the Review Conference, and delegates opted not to spoil the constructive “PrepCom” atmosphere by getting into “acrimonious” differences.  Those differenceshad been minor and consensus could have been forged had there been more time.

“We’re almost there”, he said.  “There’s a lot of good political will in the air”.  The new United States administration’s current relations with the Russian Federation and willingness to engage the global community were among the realities that had pushed the agenda in a constructive direction.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone disarmament treaty, and States had to make it work.

Asked about what specifically had changed in the international atmosphere, he said United States President Barack Obama’s stance on nuclear issues had been very helpful, and the new United States administration, overall, was more forthcoming than the last on the issue of disarmament.  Relations between Washington, D.C., and Moscow had given momentum to those wanting to work towards nuclear and general disarmament.

As to progress that could be made in 2010, given that many felt the NPT was in jeopardy, he said the Treaty was based on the three pillars of disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which States parties agreed must be addressed.  There might be different emphases placed on those pillars, but they nonetheless reflected global consensus.  The Treaty’s role was to ensure balance -– that States with nuclear weapons or technology did not bar others from acquiring it on the basis that they alone were allowed to possess it.  If those pillars were managed, he saw a great future for the Treaty, as it addressed concerns of both nuclear and non-nuclear Powers.

“We need to make the Treaty universal,” he added, which was why there was talk of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  There was a question about how to make Israel, which was not party to the Treaty, compliant with such a zone.  President Obama had said he wanted to engage with Treaty members and non-members that possessed nuclear capability, including Israel, India, and Pakistan on the issue of security.

Responding to a query on the sticking points in the draft report’snegotiations, and whether the Non-Aligned Movement had created a problem, he said the Movement had not been a problem.  There simply had not been enough time to achieve an outcome that satisfied all States parties to the Treaty, which also included the Western European and other States group and the “P-5”.  A holistic approach was needed in addressing the Treaty’s pillars.  “You can’t cherry pick an issue to the detriment of the others.”  Some felt the first draft focused more on disarmament and too little on non-proliferation and compliance.  The second draft tried to address those deficiencies, but others argued too heavy a focus had been placed on non-compliance.  A delicate balance had to be achieved.

Asked about the reaction to the United States delegation’s speech at the Preparatory Committee meeting urging Israel to become a Treaty signatory, he said the speech was a positive statement that assured parties that the United States wanted success, as President Obama had signalled earlier this year in Prague.  That atmosphere propelled goodwill at the PrepCom, and if that continued at next year’s Review Conference, positive results would be more likely than in past years.

As to what would happen to three versions of the recommendations, he said the recommendations had been taken from documents submitted by States parties in the build-up to the Third Preparatory Committee meetings.  They discussed issues on which States felt consensus could be reached.  They intended to give the Review Conference a “head start”, but as they had not been agreed, he did not want to present them as a summary.  He hoped States parties could build on them at the Review Conference.

To a query about the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia, he said there was a concept that a denuclearized Korean peninsula was needed, one that dealt with all nuclear weapons, wherever they were. There were various views on that issue.  Some States wanted disarmament, but might find comfort in a “nuclear umbrella”.  What was needed was a focus on achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.  But it was a reality that, before that occurred, some countries might bask in the safety of an umbrella.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.