By J C Suresh
A group of non-nuclear weapon states has expressed its resolve to move ahead with practical steps to advance the implementation of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference Action Plan (‘Action Plan’) and to pursue the goal of a nuke-free world.
At a meeting in New York on September 26, 2012 on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates reaffirmed their “commitment to contribute to the realisation of a robust regime across the three pillars of the NPT”. As agreed at the meeting in Istanbul in June, they identified future prospects.
While acknowledging the efforts of several states towards achieving these objectives, the Group of 10 – initiated in 2010 by Australia and Japan – said that “much more needs to be done”.
In particular, the group known as Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) stressed the need for the convening of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, “to be attended by all states in the region on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at”.
In a joint statement on September 26, NPDI foreign ministers assured full support for the efforts by the Finnish facilitator “to consult broadly with all relevant stakeholders to prepare for a successful conference and call upon all parties in the Middle East to engage, in the spirit of genuine and constructive cooperation”.
The conference was expected to be convened in 2012. But a date has yet to be announced, and whether Israeli would participate, remains an open question.
The cross-regional group said: “We have demonstrated our valid interest, as leading non-nuclear-weapon states, in greater transparency surrounding nuclear disarmament efforts. The NPDI developed a draft reporting form, guided by Action 21 of the Action Plan, as a contribution to the discussions between the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) on transparency and reporting.
“The draft reporting form was shared with the NWS in June 2011 and submitted with the NPDI’s working paper on transparency at the 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting in Vienna. In September, NPDI members undertook consultations in the capitals of NWS to discuss the NPDI’s contribution. We have agreed to follow up on this matter in order to support the confidence building measures of the NWS.”
The statement further reiterated commitment “to seeing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and an end to nuclear test explosions for all time. We endorse the Friends of the CTBT and join in urging the remaining eight Annex II states to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible”.
The group expressed its concern for the lack of substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) across the four core issues on its agenda, and urged the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive Program of Work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT).
In keeping with UN GA Resolution 66/44, in May and August 2012, NPDI members Germany and the Netherlands organised scientific experts’ meetings in Geneva to encourage the technical work on an FMCT and support the commencement of negotiations.
NPDI member Canada will again this year lead a resolution at the First Committee of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address this issue. “We will strongly support a resolution that takes stock of the current situation, supports ongoing efforts to break the impasse in the CD and proposes ways forward, and will encourage others to do likewise,” the joint statement said.
It pointed out that the NPDI member states have agreed to continue to put our collective effort into increasing the support for and conclusion of key legal instruments that safeguard and govern nuclear activities.
“As part of this, we confirmed that letters urging action on the Additional Protocol will be issued shortly. We have endorsed the content of papers on non-strategic nuclear weapons and the reduction of the role of nuclear weapons and welcome their further elaboration in the lead up to the second NPT PrepCom in Geneva in 2013,” the ten-member grouping said.
“We also agreed to develop joint working papers on the CTBT, export controls, nuclear-weapon-free zones and wider application of safeguards in NWS. These papers aim to bring new ideas and fresh impetus to the second NPT PrepCom of the 2015 NPT Review Conference,” it added.
The group will meet next in April 2013 in the Netherlands to review progress in taking forward its priorities and to finalise our contributions to support a productive and successful 2013 NPT PrepCom.
This was the fifth ministerial meeting of the group since its inception in September 2010 at the margins of the UN General Assembly. In the second meeting held in Berlin on April 30, 2011 the ten shared a common purpose: to take forward the consensus outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and jointly to advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agendas as mutually reinforcing processes.
The third ministerial meeting took place in New York on September 21, 2011 and the fourth in Istanbul on June 16, 2012 which expressed “concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and in full cognizance of their longstanding, far reaching and irredeemable effects”.