Non Proliferation Jigsaw

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Khalid Iqbal*


(The Eighth Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) was an interesting event. To meet a statutory requirement, signatory states to the treaty meet on a five-yearly basis for NPT review conferences. Three out of the previous seven gatherings failed to produce a declaration, including the last one in 2005. The only countries which are not treaty members are India, Israel and Pakistan. North Korea withdrew from the treaty seven years ago to pursue its nuclear weapons program. Proponents credit the NPT with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. However, others assert that NPT the managers have instigated major nuclear weapon drives through apartheid-like selectivity.

The recent conference was made conspicuous by the year-long concerted preparatory campaign lead by President Barack Obama. This included: the articulation of  the Prague Agenda in April 2009, passage of the unanimous UNSC Resolution 1887 on the Prague Agenda in September 2009,1 as well as the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, the enunciation of the American ‘Nuclear Posture Review,’ and the holding of the ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ all in April 2010.2

Though the conference managed to cobble together a consensus document, the text embodies numerous contradictions. The initiative in the context of non-proliferation has passed on to neo-nuclear  and non- nuclear weapon states. Unfortunately, the nuclear weapon states (NWS) members are still fixated on the realities of yesteryears. Radical out-of-the-box solutions are required if non-proliferation objectives are to be realized.)


Non-proliferation has been an old ambition of nuclear weapon states. However, the route has all along been a faulty one. Instruments to achieve non-proliferation have been grounded in the mythical concept of making the non-weapons state believe that nuclear weapons are good in the hands of only those who already possessed these; and for others, these are self-annihilating toys. After long-drawn-out negotiations, the ‘Non Proliferation Treaty’ emerged in 1968 and came into force in 1970. The pious hope was that the treaty would become the primary barrier to the spread of nuclear arms across the globe. Unfortunately the outcome has been to the contrary.

Since 1970, it has been a statutory requirement for all signatories to get together for a review every five years.  The eighth such review concluded on 28 May 2010 (ironically it coincided with the day when Pakistan tested five nuclear devices in response to the Indian tests on 11 May 1998).The United Nations hosted the eighth review conference of the treaty from 3-28 May. Every review conference evaluates operation and compliance of NPT provisions. Delegates from the 189 nations signatory to the treaty discussed its compliance based on its three pillars – nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.3

The US undertook almost a year-long marathon campaign in preparation to the NPT RevCon 2010. In April 2009, President Obama articulated the ‘Prague Agenda,’ giving a broad concept of a nuclear weapons free world (commonly known as Global zero). In September 2009, the UN Security Council adopted ‘Resolution 1887’ in support of a world without nuclear weapons. In an unprecedented show of support to the cause of NPT, President Obama chaired this session of the UNSC. Again, in September 2009, he announced a new approach to missile defense in Europe – the ‘Phased Adaptive Approach.’ Other important events which followed were the signing of the ‘Strategic Arms

Reduction Treaty’ (START) with Russia, a ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ (NPR) as an integral part of America’s ‘Quadrennial Defence Review’ (QDR), and the ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ (NSS).4 The reaction of the international community was mixed and ranged from approbation to outright condemnation on the grounds that these measures were aimed at enabling the nuclear weapon states to retain their own arsenals while urging others to destroy theirs.

The NPT is not in serious danger of implosion. Its signatories had extended its life indefinitely in 1995. But the three underlying principles that enabled the extension are being eroded and include: (i) the nuclear weapon states would disarm; (ii) share their technology for peaceful purposes; and in return, (iii) the non-nuclear weapon states would not try to acquire nuclear weapons. The past fifteen years since then have demonstrated that the non-nuclear states have been on a wild goose chase in pursuit of these utopian promises.   Furthermore, the NPT is fraught with various structural dysfunctions. Despite the inescapable reality of neo-nuclear weapon states, the treaty managers have adopted an ostrich-like denial of this fact and continue to exclude these states from their select club. One wonders how keeping these states out of NPT accountability would ensure effective non-proliferation. The recent RevCon consensus document merely gives the treaty a facade of a boost while it continues to survive on life support systems.5

The Treaty is constructed on the foundation pillars of disarmament and the universal right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Efforts to consolidate  these  foundational  pillars  have  come  to  naught.  More often than not, the outcome has often been one step forward and two backwards. This pattern has contributed towards a phenomenal increase in the trust deficit between the nuclear haves and the have-nots.6

The basic purpose of the treaty is to inhibit the multiplication of nuclear weapons. However, it has neither prevented horizontal nor vertical proliferation. Nuclear weapon states continue to assign priority to their nuclear capabilities in their national security calculus and have persistently sought to upgrade their arsenals.7

Furthermore, the goal of disarmament has been illusory.   The stockpiles of most of the NWS are shrouded in secrecy while the ambiguity of their nuclear doctrines has resulted in a sense of perpetual insecurity amongst other states. NWS are yet to comply with their obligations under Article VI of the treaty towards disarmament. They have merely taken a few superficial measures making some of their weapons non-operational and placing them in storage from where they can be re-activated should the need arise.

Another pillar of the treaty is the inalienable right of non-nuclear states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, nuclear weapon states have been selective in allowing access to know-how and expertise pertaining to the civil application of nuclear technology. Thus India, which is not an NPT signatory and has carried out nuclear tests, has been granted nuclear facilitation while Iran, an NPT member state, is being denied access to peaceful levels of fuel cycle.8 Similarly, there is a reluctance to give unrestricted access to nuclear energy know-how to Pakistan, even under IAEA safeguards. Such discrimination militates against the universal acceptance of the non-proliferation regime.

Though efforts have been made to strengthen the IAEA, this institution has not been able to establish its credibility as an independent and impartial entity. Further strengthening of the IAEA needs to proceed alongside boosting its credibility. The setting up of a nuclear fuel bank at Angarsk under the IAEA umbrella is a welcome step. Hopefully, all NNWS would have the right to buy such fuel. Selectivity in this regard would only encourage proliferation.

Probably North Korea could have been engaged in a constructive way to prevent its departure from the NPT under Article X. Unfortunately the same mistake is being repeated by pushing Iran against the wall.

Israel’s ambiguous nuclear status has had implications on the outcome of the conference. Middle Eastern countries backed indefinite extension of NPT, during 1995 review conference, in exchange for a resolution for making the Middle East a WMD-free zone. This implied denuclearisation of Israel. Even after the lapse of 15 years, no practical steps have been taken in this regard. Washington’s new found love for nuclear free zones, just prior to recent RevCon was indeed an exercise in damage control and is a welcome development.

Non-Nuclear Weapon States have fervently sought negative security assurances from the nuclear weapon states. The recent initiatives by the US during its Nuclear Posture Review and by its signing of protocols to some of the nuclear weapon free zones’ agreements are steps in the right direction, other NWS should follow suit, but without making exceptions.

From Pakistan’s perspective, the NPT is a flawed treaty. In the past Islamabad has faced pressures to join the treaty as a NNWS. Such an expectation is not tenable. The treaty has failed to address the concerns of new nuclear weapon capable states. As such, these states will remain outside  NPT  with  obvious  implications  for  the  non-proliferation regime.

It would have been prudent to absorb all states into the NPT, on the basis of their present status and then embark on equitable non- proliferation, nuclear security, safety, and disarmament campaigns.

Furthermore, the IAEA has to go a long way to refurbish the image which was undermined by its handling of the Iraq WMD issue, and recently by making country-specific exceptions to kick-start the US- India nuclear deal (Agreement 123); whereby eight Indian reactors have been left out of IAEA safeguards thereby enabling them to produce weapon-grade fissile material.9

Perceptional Gaps: Perspective of Nuclear Weapon States (NWS)

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has been subjected to varied interpretations by Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS). For the former, nuclear weapons are a sign of stability so long as they are in the hands of the exclusive club of five countries who possessed such weapons prior to their entry into the NPT, viz., the United States, Russia, China, UK and France – all permanent members  of the UN Security Council (P-5).

The Nuclear Weapon States believe that they have the inalienable right of deciding their number of weapons and plan their increase (vertical polarization), decrease and up-gradation etc. For them, proliferation really means acquisition of nuclear weapons by those countries which did not possess these on the day the NPT became effective (horizontal proliferation).  The  NWS  see  the  world  nuclear  order  through  the NPT prism, because it ensures their exclusive right to possess nuclear weapons.

These states tend to be intrusive in the sense that they want even non-members of the Treaty to abide by its restrictions, as applicable to the NNWS members. On the commencement of eighth review on 3 May 2010, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council strongly endorsed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and called on all 189 nations that participated in it to conform to its principles to block the spread of nuclear weapons, pursue disarmament and promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. “The NPT is fundamental to protecting global peace and security from the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it has served the international community well for the past four decades,…shared commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons … in a way that promotes international stability, based on the principle of undiminished security for all.”10

The  Permanent  Security  Council  members  also  endorsed  the 2010 START Treaty which, when fully implemented, would result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear weapons since the 1950s. The joint statement by the P-5 also endorsed the full implementation of the ‘Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’ (CTBT), which President Obama has pledged to see ratified by the United States Senate. The CTBT aims to keep nations from conducting nuclear tests because such tests create instability and also threaten the environment with excessive nuclear radiation. “The proliferation of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations. It sets back the cause of disarmament, in particular nuclear  disarmament,  and  imperils  the  prospects  for  strengthening international cooperation in nuclear energy, including the role we wish to see such cooperation play in combating climate change and ensuring sustainable development of nuclear energy,” the joint statement said.11

Perspective of Non Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS)

Nevertheless, the NNWS have a different perspective. These countries  think  that  the  bargain  they  had  struck  for  not  acquiring nuclear weapons has gone sour and that the NWS have not fulfilled their commitments. These varied perceptions were aptly summarized by the Review Conference’s president, ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, who said: ‘It’s like a recommitment of marriage vows to the treaty, as the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.’12

The point of view of the NNWS was effectively articulated by Iran during the opening session of the conference. At the NPT RevCon, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran’s position on its contentious nuclear programme and charged NPT nuclear weapon states of being in non-compliance with their treaty obligations, including on nuclear disarmament and on fulfilling their obligations to NPT non- weapon states on the supply of nuclear materials and fuel.13     He was the only head of state among the Treaty’s 189 members who attended the conference.14 Another dissenting voice was of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) and Egypt, as the rotary head of NAM, presented its plan for meaningful disarmament by 2025.

Another issue that had the potential of derailing the conference was of the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (MEWMDFZ). The 1995 Review Conference adopted a resolution calling for a MEWMDFZ to obtain the support of the Arab states to get the NPT extended indefinitely. There has however not been any further progress on the issue, with Israel’s nuclear weapons being the main issue of contention. Iran and the 21 Arab states that are party to the NPT insisted that as long as Israel is allowed to keep its nuclear weapons and stays out of the NPT, there cannot be meaningful progress towards a MEWMDFZ. The United States was one of the three co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution calling for a MEWMDFZ and is still supportive of the idea. However, Washington also supports the Israeli contention that unless there is comprehensive peace in the Middle East, efforts to establish a MEWMDFZ will be difficult.15This makes the MEWMDFZ concept almost a non-starter.

American view point

The American perspective on NPT-related issues was summarised by the Secretary of Stare during her opening remarks to the review conference. Hillary Clinton announced a new presidential policy initiative to further the Obama administration’s commitment to the Treaty’s core bargain: states without nuclear weapons promise not to acquire them, states with nuclear weapons work towards eliminating them, and all enjoy access to the peaceful uses of the atom.16

The Secretary announced that Washington would seek US Senate consent for ratification of several Protocols to the Africa Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba) and the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga). These treaties complement the NPT and enhance the international non-proliferation regime by prohibiting the development or testing of nuclear weapons within their respective geographic zones. Zone parties are also prohibited from stationing nuclear weapons within their territories. The United States is not eligible to be a party to either of these treaties, but it is eligible to join treaty Protocols open for signature by the nuclear weapons states. These protocols include a pledge not to test nuclear weapons within these zones and legally-binding assurances not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against treaty member states. The United States understands that such negative security assurances are important to states which have foresworn nuclear weapons and wish to abide by their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.17

Following a review of US policy towards the nuclear-weapon-free zones currently in force, the Administration is satisfied that the African and South Pacific treaties are consistent with U.S. and international criteria for such zones. The United States believes that such zones, when fully and rigorously implemented, contribute to the President’s non-proliferation and disarmament goals and to international peace and security. The United States has concluded that the Treaties of Pelindaba and Rarotonga and their Protocols will not disturb existing security arrangements or U.S. military operations, installations, or activities. The Treaties and Protocols will also promote regional cooperation, security and stability and provide a vehicle for the extension of legally-binding negative security assurances, consistent with the strengthened negative security assurance announced in the recent U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. The United States signed the Protocols to the Treaties of Pelindaba and Rarotonga in 1996. Washington has also signed and ratified the Protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. With respect to the nuclear- weapon-free zone treaties in force in Southeast Asia and Central Asia, the United States looks forward to continuing consultations with the parties to explore possible US support for signature and ratification of the applicable protocols.18

However such affirmations reinforce the concerns regarding selectivity of approach. Going by the concept of fair play, such negative assurances should have come a long time ago from all NWS for all NNWS, irrevocably and underwritten by UNSC. If President Obama’s concept of global zero is to attract requisite support, the US should be proposing conversion of the entire world as WMDFZ.

The Secretary announced a campaign to raise $100 million over the next five years to broaden access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The funds are to significantly expand support for projects sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), addressing energy and important humanitarian purposes, such as cancer treatment and fighting infectious diseases, food and water security, and the development of infrastructure for the safe, secure use of civil nuclear power. These efforts will be aimed to assist developing countries.19

These programs enable more than 100 states to enjoy the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.20 Once again the amount assigned is not compatible with the gigantic task that IAEA is expected to carry out.

to the participants was interesting: “Forty years after the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty entered into force, we have come together to answer a simple question with consequences for us all: as individual nations and as an international community, will we uphold the rights and responsibilities of all nations in order to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? For four decades, the NPT has been the cornerstone of our collective efforts to prevent the proliferation of these weapons.  But today, this regime is under increasing pressure….  Over the coming weeks, we will see whether nations with nuclear weapons will fulfill their NPT obligations to move toward nuclear disarmament.  Building on our new START Treaty with Russia and our Nuclear Posture Review, which reaffirms the central importance of the NPT, the United States is meeting its responsibilities and setting the stage for further cuts. We will see whether nations without nuclear weapons will fulfill their obligation to forsake them….  Finally, we will work to ensure that nations that abide by their obligations can access peaceful nuclear energy.  The United States is committed to this goal and will pursue a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation that permits nations that uphold their responsibilities to enjoy the peaceful uses of the atom… Over the coming weeks, each of our nations will have the opportunity to show where we stand. Will we meet our responsibilities or shirk them? Will we ensure the rights of nations or undermine them? In short, do we seek a 21st century of more nuclear weapons or a world without them? These are the questions we must answer, the challenges we must meet. At this conference and beyond, let us come together, in partnership, to pursue the peace and security that our people deserve.21”

Once again effort is focused on image building of the US by emphasising that while it is fulfilling its obligations, others need to follow the suit. These self righteous proclamations without corresponding on ground deliverance have all along been the strategy of NWS members of NPT.

Nuclear Security Summit.

By and large, the ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ (NSS) in Washington was relatively successful. Pakistan’s standing was enhanced as a responsible nuclear weapons state. With minor exceptions, the usual criticism of Pakistan on the nuclear issue remained on hold. The downside of the conference was the absence of Iran, North Korea and the low-level presence of Israel.22

Reminiscent of the Bush era, Iran and North Korea were bracketed together. This was a distortion because the former is a de-facto nuclear weapon state whereas the latter professes non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.23

Iran’s  declaratory  policy  is  to  promote  NPT  objectives,  and restrict itself to peaceful nuclear pursuits. It has its point of view on the effectiveness of existing non-proliferation regimes and these are not without logic. Similar views are shared by a majority of countries. The existing NP regimes are perceived as instruments to perpetuate the status quo between the nuclear haves and have-nots. Overall, the perception is that the NPT is a mechanism for promoting nuclear apartheid.24

The focus of the NSS was on a four year plan to secure all existing fissile material. There was    emphasis that such material should not fall into the hands of terrorists. The non-binding communiqué issued on the conclusion of the Summit indicated a unanimous resolve of the 47 participating counties to work towards ensuring the security of fissile material. An elaborate action plan was also agreed upon to achieve the stipulated milestones. The communiqué and the action plan attempt to evolve a framework to comprehensively tackle the issue of nuclear terrorism. The approach while preparing these documents was to incorporate all existing instruments related to non-proliferation.25

There is no problem so long as the international effort is restricted to the security of fissile material. However serious differences arise because of the arbitrary manner of determining the eligibility of countries that are to be given access to civil applications of nuclear technology, although the NPT grants this right to all states.26

These differences are further accentuated by attempts to impose an arbitrary cut-off date for fissile material production, thereby perpetuating the prevailing balance of nuclear warheads in the regional context. It anticipated conventional and nuclear military threats.27

Nuclear armed rivals aspire for strategic balance while an imbalance in conventional weapons triggers the quest for nuclear capability. This, in turn, spurs a race to acquire fissile material.

The elimination of fissile material production necessitates the creation of a global environment under which no country feels the need for developing nuclear weapons. An attempt to impose a cut off regime arbitrarily amounts to merely treating the symptoms but not the disease thus prompting nuclear  proliferation despite all preventive and restrictive regimes.28

Pakistan took a principled stand at the ‘Conference of Disarmament’ that as a part of global fissile material management regime the existing stocks of all states should be taken into account. For it is only when the existing inventory is accurately known, that precise security measures can be put in place.

During the NSS some countries indicated the measures they had instituted or are in the process of instituting. Chile, for instance, stated that it had relocated its stock of low-enriched and highly-enriched uranium to the United States. Another such disclosure was the US- Russia Plutonium Disposal Management Agreement whereby the two countries have agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons each of weapons- grade plutonium from their military programs for burning in reactors by 2018.29

Despite all this, some contradictions in the American approach towards nuclear safety have raised concerns both in Pakistan as well as in several other countries.

Pragmatism demanded that all international nuclear deals be put on hold till global nuclear management takes a concrete and recognizable shape. It was, therefore, strange that some of the affiliated instruments of Agreement 123(US-India nuclear deal) were concluded in indecent haste, just prior to the NSS.30

As a consequence, India has eight ‘liberated’ nuclear reactors outside the purview of IAEA, churning out sufficient fissile material to produce around 280 nuclear warheads per year!  This is apart from an ongoing programme of 13 fast breeder reactors.31

There is also a need to bring Israel out of a policy of strategic silence over its nuclear assets. This would provide an opportunity to determine its fissile material stock and ensure its verifiable security.32

Fissile material management is an area needing an imaginative rather than a traditional approach.    Security of fissile material is a genuine concern; however the issue of nuclear terrorism must not be overplayed to impose intrusive regimes. Security measures can only be implemented effectively when these are non-discriminatory, time bound, enjoy global acceptance, embodying binding and verifiable instruments.33

Rebuttal by Iran

Over the previous years, there has been enormous pressure on Iran on its nuclear programme. The US has been in the forefront in convincing other NWS members of the NPT for strict sanctions against Iran. Three sets of sanctions are already in force whereas efforts to impose a fourth set continued throughout the RevCon. As a consequence, Iran assumed a strong defensive, but positive, posture. Despite provocations, Tehran did not exercise its negative vote for blocking the final declaration. The Iranian president’s address at the opening session of the conference was an interesting rebuttal to the American point of view, as indeed to that of NWS members of the NPT.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran was the only head of state at the conference. The other countries were represented either at the ministerial or even lower level. While the review conference was in progress, diplomats from Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China met almost daily to work out a draft sanctions resolution.34 world of nuclear weapons. The following is an excerpt from his speech on 03 May, 2010, at the opening session of RevCon:-

“…The production and possession of nuclear bombs is hazardous and pose a serious concern to the health and security of the world. The sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to annihilate people… which are harmful for future generations… and would leave negative impact on environment. Possession of nuclear weapons is not a source of pride rather it is disgusting and shameful. Some states including Israel are equipped with nuclear arms despite international attempts for disarmament. The world should be looking into policies of certain states and the efficacy of the NPT. Unfortunately, the main cause of escalation of arms race is a reliance on a theory of seeking superiority through threatening others …and such a theory has led to nuclear arms race. Possession of nuclear weapons by the US and its allies became the main source of encouragement for nuclear arms race. It is a misperception that nuclear weapon is a means of deterrence… and a misperception that it is OK to use nuclear weapons. The Zionist regime threatens some countries with its nuclear weapons as well. However, numerous resolutions are being adopted by the nuclear weapons states… to deny other states of the right to get access to peaceful nuclear technology. The Western countries have failed to provide a single proof to substantiate their allegation against Iran…. I put forward a set of proposals: Nuclear disarmament should become the core of the mandate of transparent and binding mechanism; An immediate termination of all types of research, development and their related facilities of nuclear weapons; The adoption of a legally binding instrument on the full prohibition, stockpiling, and maintaining nuclear arsenals; Suspension of the membership to the board of governors of the IAEA for those which use or threaten to use nuclear weapons and those states who prevented the IAEA to perform its mandate; Considering any threat to use nuclear weapons or attack against peaceful nuclear facilities as a breach of international security; Dismantling nuclear weapons in the US and other countries; ….35

Tehran Conference on Disarmament and Non Proliferation of WMD.

This conference was held in Tehran on 17-18 April 2010 as a follow-up of the ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ hosted by the United States on 12-13 April 2010. The participants discussed the concerns and challenges related to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, nuclear weapons. The two-day conference, with the motto of “Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None,” was attended by high-level officials and experts from about 60 countries. The following is the summarized text of the joint statement issued by the conference:36

“The conference expressed deep concern on the complicated situation over the international disarmament and security, continued existence  of  WMD,  in  particular  nuclear  weapons  and  the  use  or threat to use such weapons. It emphasized on total elimination of such inhumane weapons in accordance with the NPT, and the final documents of the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences, in particular, complete realization of the 13 nuclear disarmament practical steps committed by nuclear weapons states. It stressed on the necessity for concluding a comprehensive, non-discriminatory and legally binding Convention on the total ban on development, production, transfer, stockpiling, use or threat to use such weapons, in order to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons, on the pattern of Chemical Weapons Convention of 1992 and the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972.  It demanded provision of comprehensive and non-discriminatory security assurances pending  the  total  elimination  of  nuclear  weapons.  It  also  stressed the need to take measures for the realization of nuclear weapon free zones in different parts of the world, in particular in the Middle East, based on the relevant UN resolutions and pending the achievement of such goal, the accession of the Zionist regime to the non-proliferation treaty and putting its nuclear facilities under the IAEA comprehensive safeguards. It stressed the principles of the irreversibility, transparency and verifiability in any bilateral or multilateral agreement on cutting the number of nuclear weapons. It affirmed the inalienable right of the NPT state parties to use nuclear energy in all its aspects and the necessity to promote international cooperation as a pillar of the NPT in accordance with the commitments under Article IV. Delegates emphasized that attacking the peaceful nuclear facilities results in grave negative consequences for human beings and the environment, and is a gross violation of international law and the UN Charter. It expressed the grave concern over the weakening of the non-proliferation regime due to implementation of double-standards and discriminatory approaches by certain Nuclear Weapon States, in particular the cooperation of certain Nuclear Weapon States with the NPT non-parties and neglecting the nuclear arsenal of the Zionist regime. It emphasized the necessity to comply with the respective obligations on destruction of chemical weapons within the agreed timeframe (2012), as well as the necessity to address the biological threats.”

Dangerous US-Iran Brawl Politicized the NPT Review Conference. The war of words between the United States and Iran threatened to derail the RevCon.37   During three Preparatory Committee meetings held in Vienna, Geneva and New York from 2007 to 2009, Iran, among other issues, pointed out to what it termed the “continued unbalanced, discriminatory and double-standard approach in implementing the treaty.”38  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who headed the American delegation to the NPT RevCon, asserted in an interview to ‘Meet the Press’ programme on 29 April that the United States will not “permit Iran to try to change the story from their failure to comply” with the NPT provisions.39 Sensing the impending disaster, UN Secretary General issued a cautionary statement to NPT parties to agree to disarm. During the last week of the conference, he urged the states party to the NPT to conclude their month-long meeting with an agreement on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Ban-Ki-Moon said, “As expected, there have been divergent views, yet the will to succeed has been clear. Many constructive proposals have been put on the table covering all three NPT pillars.”40 He said the talks had reached a “crucial stage” and it was time for an agreement, urging the parties not to repeat the failure of the last review meeting held in 2005.41

Pentagon’s View of American Military Power

American military power posturing is reflected through various policy documents. These documents and deeds include the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the Nuclear Security Summit in New York, Pentagon war budget request for 2011 etc.42

The QDR, issued in February 2010, portrays America as being constantly under the threat of attack from a multitude of fearsome forces bent on its destruction.43

The NPR says the long range U.S. goal is a “nuclear free” world but despite token reductions in its arsenal of such weapons, the Pentagon is strengthening its nuclear force and bolstering it with a devastating “conventional deterrent” intended to strike any target in the world within one hour. In addition, it retains “hair-trigger” nuclear launch readiness, refuses to declare that its nuclear force is for deterrence only (suggesting offensive use) and for the first time authorizes a nuclear attack, if necessary, on a non-nuclear state (Iran).44

The Obama Administration’s one positive achievement in terms of militarism and war was the signing of the new START treaty with Russia, in Prague, on 9 April 2010. The treaty envisages a reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads each. Though this was a modest step forward, it does not even faintly diminish the danger of nuclear war.45

Quadrennial Defense Review. Of the QDR’s many priorities three stand out:46

  • To “prevail in today’s wars” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and wherever else military intrusions penetrate in coming years. While introducing the report on 1 February 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued this significant statement: “Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress.” The “wars to come” were not identified. Further, the QDR states that military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is “only the first step toward achieving our strategic objectives.”
  • While in the past the US concentrated on the ability to fight two big wars simultaneously. Now it’s two-plus wars — the plus being the obligation to “conduct large-scale counterinsurgency, stability, and counterterrorism operations in a wide range of environments,” mainly in small, poor countries like Afghanistan. Other “plus” targets include “non-state actors” such as al- Qaeda, “failed states” such as Somalia, and medium size but well defended states.
  • It’s fairly obvious from the QDR, though not acknowledged, that the Obama government believes China and Russia are the two possible “nation-state aggressors” against which Washington must prepare to “defend” itself. Neither Beijing nor Moscow has taken any action to justify the Pentagon’s assumption that they will ever be suicidal enough to attack the far more powerful United States. War Budget.   The United States invests more on war and war preparations than the rest of the world combined. President Obama’s 2010 Pentagon budget is $680 billion, but the real total is double of this figure when all national security expenditures in other departmental budgets are also included, such as the cost of nuclear weapons, the 16 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, and interest on war debts etc. Annual war-related expenditures are well over $1 trillion. While calling for a discretionary freeze on government programs in State of the Union address, in January 2010, Obama specifically exempted Pentagon/ national security expenditures from the freeze. His $708 billion Pentagon allotment for fiscal 2011 (not counting a pending $33 billion Congress will approve for the Afghan “surge”) exceeds President Bush’s highest budget of $651 billion for fiscal year 2009.

America’s Nuclear Posture. The United States, in an effort to be “as transparent as we can be” in the words of Hillary Clinton, recently announced it has 5,113 in its nuclear stockpile, and thousands more retired warheads awaiting the junk-pile. Robert S. Norris, a longtime analyst of US and Russian nuclear arsenals, and Hans M. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, estimated in a recent Associated Press article that ‘several thousand’ to be roughly 4,200 retired warheads.

This brings the grand total to roughly 9,313 nuclear warheads. The new agreement between Obama and Medvedev brings the limits to 1,550, each side.47

Scrutiny reveals that a lot of the disarming process is merely paperwork. According to an article titled “Where nuclear weapons go to die” by Jeffrey Lewis and Meri Lugo, a nuclear weapon is taken off the active list and put in storage, or shipped to a company called Pantex in Texas to be disassembled. The authors say that during the Clinton administration,  more  than  1,000  warheads  were  dismantled  a  year, but since the year 2000, employees at Pantex have spent most of their time “refurbishing operational nuclear warheads to extend their life.” They say there are some 4,000 nuclear weapons waiting in line to be dismantled. But this doesn’t answer the question of where the uranium ends up once the bomb has been taken apart.48

Fissile Material Management. There is a programme between the United States and Russia called “Megatons for Megawatts.” The program is handled in the US by the company USEC, Inc. The company’s website calls the program “a 20 year, $8 billion, commercially funded nuclear nonproliferation of the US and Russian governments.”They say the “program is recycling 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads (the equivalent of 20,000 warheads) into low enriched uranium used by USEC’s customers to generate electricity.” The process starts in Russia, where the weapons are dismantled and the weapon grade uranium (HEU) is converted to low enriched uranium (LEU). Then USEC purchases this material from Russia, and sells it to utility companies in the United States. USEC says this program has “significantly enhanced world security by steadily reducing stockpiles of nuclear-grade materials, while creating a clean, valuable resource-uranium for use in nuclear fuel.” They say 1 in 10 customers in the United States receives this fuel and by the program’s end in 2013, enough LEU will be created to power the entire US for two years.49

The International Panel on Fissile Materials says much of the world’s excess highly enriched uranium is held in reserve for nuclear submarines. The US has the largest supply at 128 tons, enough fuel to keep them running for 60 years. The panel says if the US and Russia were to agree to cut their total stockpiles to 1000 and convert their submarines to run on LEU, as most countries are now doing, they could “dispose of perhaps 360 and 700 tons of weapon-grade uranium respectively. Nuclear power does leave us with nuclear waste, which isn’t that much better, but at least it won’t explode and kill millions of people. Nuclear power plants are left storing this waste until a suitable dumping ground is found. The US has been preparing Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but the site has not yet been approved.50

The United States’ nuclear power industry has produced 56,000 tons of used fuel, which, if recycled, could power every US household for 12 years. The US developed the technology to recycle spent fuel, but banned its use in 1977 over fears of proliferation and cost effectiveness. France, on the other hand, has recycled spent nuclear fuel successfully for 30 years, and the 23,000 tons of spent fuel they have processed could power all of France for 14 years. The French have helped Japan get a recycling program going, and are looking into building a plant in China. The British, Indians, and Russians all engage in some form of reprocessing. While recycling fuel does not render it harmless, recycling decreases the harmful levels of nuclear material, and reduces the chances of making it into an effective nuclear weapon.51

The French Government says that recycling nuclear waste reduces radioactivity by a factor of four or five by taking Plutonium and Uranium out of the equation, according to E&E reporter Katherine Ling. She says that the United States has the biggest nuclear power market on the planet, and that Areva, France’s majority state-owned complex of nuclear companies, is already building a reprocessing plant in South Carolina with its partner the Shaw Group, with the intent of reprocessing excess plutonium from the US nuclear weapons program.52

Status of IAEA Additional Protocol. The Iran issue remained the most intensely debated subject of the review conference in the context of strengthening treaty compliance. The RevCon deliberated on making it compulsory for NPT states to adhere to the IAEA Additional Protocol  (AP) instead of its prevalent status of voluntary compliance. Out of the 189 states party to the NPT, only 139 countries have so far concluded an AP and it is in force in only 98 countries. The other 50 NPT signatories have not even concluded an AP to their standard NPT Safeguards Agreement.53 Iran had voluntarily suspended the implementation of the AP in February 2006 in the aftermath of it being referred to the UN Security Council. It has since been insisting that it will only reconsider its decision regarding the AP if the IAEA as the “sole competent authority” decides on its nuclear concerns rather than a “politicized” UN Security Council (UNSC).54

Withdrawal from Treaty. The    second    contentious    subject    was withdrawal from the NPT. Article X Part I of the NPT provides for the parties to withdraw from the treaty on the ground that “extraordinary events” have “jeopardized their supreme interests.” Tehran has not yet reached such a decision, despite occasional threats to do so in the face of rising international pressure, specifically when it was referred to the UNSC by the IAEA Board of Governors. This was laid to rest right at the onset of the conference when President Ahmadenejad categorically stated that Iran would not withdraw from NPT. He further stated that his only purpose to come to New York and attend the Review conference was to strengthen the NPT.55   Iran contends that the issue of withdrawal is a “sensitive and delicate issue” and any focus on Article X at the RevCon could only “divert” from the main challenges facing the NPT – the issue of nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.56

For the first time in any NPT final document, the Review Conference has addressed the abuse of Treaty’s withdrawal provisions, recognizing the view that withdrawing parties are responsible for violations committed while a party to the treaty and that nuclear suppliers should incorporate dismantling and/or return clauses in the event of withdrawal.57

Withdrawal by North Korea.     A precedent  for  withdrawal  under article X of the NPT was set by North Korea on two occasions – on 12 March 1993 and 22 January 2003. Pyongyang’s nuclear activities have been off the international radar screen since then. The country most affected by this withdrawal is South Korea. It circulated a Working Paper at the Second PrepComm meeting held in Geneva from 28April-9 May 2008 urging “preventive and deterrence measures to further dissuade” a State Party from considering withdrawal. The Paper further recommended that the withdrawing party should return equipment and material that it obtained under Article IV of the NPT (dealing with peaceful uses of nuclear energy), with the process to be supervised by a collective response mechanism made up of one-third of the NPT member states. A joint US-South Korea Working Paper at the same venue stated that “should a party withdraw from a treaty before it remedies its violations, it should remain accountable for those violations.”58

Multi-lateralization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

South Korea, apart from Austria, had presented a Working Paper at the Third PrepComm meeting held in New York from 4-15 May 2009 regarding the issue of multi-lateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle. Seoul urged States Parties to “comprehensively take into account both supply and demand in a way that reduces incentives of States to acquire indigenous sensitive nuclear fuel cycle.” It also urged proper attention to the ‘back-end’ (nuclear waste, spent fuel) of the nuclear fuel cycle and not just the ‘front-end’ (nuclear fuel supplies) among other aspects so that proliferation risks are minimized. Austria also favoured a ‘cradle to grave’ multi-lateral supervision of nuclear fuel cycle to ensure maximum transparency and security. At the New York PrepComm, Iran insisted that “the inalienable right of all States parties to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes without discrimination indeed constitutes the very foundation of the Treaty.” Iran also proposed that industrial States Parties of the NPT that do not fulfill their requirements of ensuring nuclear materials supplies to other NPT member states as mandated under Article IV of the treaty will have to compensate these countries accordingly.59


Another sensitive issue was that of the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (MEWMDFZ). The 1995 RevCon adopted a resolution calling for a MEWMDFZ to obtain the support of the Arab states to get the NPT extended indefinitely. There had however not been any further progress on the issue, with Israel’s nuclear weapons being the main issue of contention. Iran and the 21 Arab states that are party to the NPT insisted that as long as the ‘Zionist entity’ is allowed to keep its nuclear weapons and stays out of the NPT, there could not be meaningful progress towards a MEWMDFZ. The United States was one of the three co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution calling for a MEWMDFZ and continues to be supportive of the idea; the issue of Israel’s nuclear weapons also came under discussion. Washington also agreed with the Israeli contention that unless there is comprehensive peace in the Middle East, efforts to establish a MEWMDFZ will be difficult.60

US-India Nuclear Deal ‘Agreement 123.’ Yet another item that drew attention was ‘Agreement 123.’ This controversial agreement embodies many contradictions. Some of the provisions of this agreement tantamount to reverse paddling the effort of the international community toward non-proliferation. Interestingly some of the affiliated instruments of ‘Agreement 123’ (US-India nuclear deal) were concluded in indecent haste, just prior to NPT RevCon, to inflict a fait accompli. For example, America and India signed a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement to further augment their bilateral civilian nuclear deal that would open venues for India to reprocess American nuclear material under IAEA safeguards.

This arrangement was a significant leap forwards toward operationalising civil nuclear cooperation by finalising the procedural mechanism for reprocessing US-origin spent nuclear fuel.   This facilitated participation by US firms in India’s rapidly expanding civil nuclear energy sector. American giants like GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, General Electric, Westinghouse etc, are vying for lucrative nuclear energy contracts in India.61

As a part of United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act of 2008, the latter was required to establish a ‘Civil Nuclear Liability Regime’ to limit compensation by American nuclear companies operating in India in case of nuclear accidents.  The Indian government could not introduce a bill in its parliament  to  protect  foreign  equipment  suppliers  from  accidental liabilities. Tabling of ‘The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010’ had been withheld in anticipation of opposition from lawmakers. Ignoring this anomaly, the US hurriedly signed the fuel processing agreement in anticipation of the RevCon. Once ‘Agreement 123’ is fully implemented, India will have eight ‘liberated’ nuclear reactors outside the purview of the IAEA churning out sufficient fissile material to produce around 280 nuclear warheads per year. This will be in addition to its programme of acquring 13 fast breeder reactors.62

Pakistan’s enviable nuclear security skills

During the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Pakistan presented a comprehensive document enlisting, among other things, an offer of nuclear security skills to the world. The paper makes out an excellent case of the Pakistani expertise in the field of nuclear security especially in prevention, detection and response to illicit trafficking.

This was one of the major initiatives on the part of Islamabad to remove misgivings about the security of its nuclear assets. It demonstrated to the world that it had acquired a level of skills that could be beneficial to other States as well. Furthermore, this was a strong rebuttal of allegations that its nuclear assets could fall into the hands of militants. Pakistan not only has a robust command and control structure but also sufficiently trained manpower capable of applying latest technologies in the field. Iran’s Diplomatic Scoop

While the UNSC was preoccupied with cobbling together a fourth set of sanctions against Iran, a Brazilian-Turkish initiative bore fruit in Tehran. Iran agreed to a ten point arrangement on 17 May 2010 aimed at defusing the mounting tension focused on its enrichment facilities.63

The essence of the deal was that Iran would ship 1200 kilograms of low enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for deposit, and receive in return 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent for use in an Iranian nuclear reactor devoted to medical research. The agreement reaffirmed support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as acknowledged Iran’s right under the treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which meant the entire fuel cycle, including the enrichment phase.64

The bargain negotiated in Tehran closely resembled an arrangement reached some months earlier in which Iran had agreed to turn over a similar amount of low enriched uranium to France and Russia in exchange for their promise of providing fuel rods that could be used in the same medical research reactor. That earlier deal floundered as Iran raised political objections, and then withdrew.65 The United States had welcomed this earlier arrangement as a desirable confidence- building step toward resolving the underlying conflict, but it wasted no time repudiating the agreement, which seemed so similar. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton insisted that the concerns about Iranian nuclear enrichment be left exclusively in the hands of the ‘major powers,’ and immediately rallied China and Russia (in addition to France and the United Kingdom) to support a fourth round of punitive sanctions.66

Japan India Nuclear collaboration

The Review Conference ignored Japanese nuclear sales to India. In recent months, New Delhi has been lobbying Japan to supply civilian nuclear technology. The Bush administration and Congress paved the way for such transactions by the 2005 US-India civil nuclear deal which exempts India from nuclear trade restrictions on states that do not put all of their nuclear facilities under international safeguards.67

Some policy makers and nuclear disarmament advocates in Japan believe that granting India full nuclear co-operation would reward it for  possessing  nuclear  weapons  without  gaining  non-proliferation and disarmament quid pro quos. However other Japanese government ministries involved in technology approvals, such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, want to open the nuclear trade with India, arguing that Japan should not be more righteous than the US, France, Russia and anyone else who is eager to do nuclear business in India. Non-proliferation and disarmament advocates argue that Japan should defend the integrity of the non-proliferation regime even if the US and others do not.68

Japan has more leverage than is commonly recognized. France has already signed agreements to build several nuclear reactors in India, but the state-owned French supplier, Areva, needs components that are built by Japanese companies. Similarly, America’s General Electric hopes to build reactors in India but depends on its partner, Hitachi, to supply nuclear equipment and know-how. Thus, Tokyo’s decision on nuclear co- operation with India affects the scale of India’s nuclear power ambitions as well as the business prospects of these companies and their Japanese partners.69

On the other hand, Japan forswore the right to acquire nuclear weapons and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1976 on the understanding that India and other states would not be accepted in the future as nuclear-weapon powers. The deal to exempt India from international nuclear non-proliferation sanctions therefore upset Japan because it ended India’s penalty for getting the bomb. Some policy makers and the still important nuclear disarmament community in Japan argue that Tokyo should defend the original principles and terms of the non-proliferation regime.70

Tokyo is likely to shy away from blocking Japanese companies and their foreign partners from entering the Indian nuclear market because India’s future economic importance is too great and there is considerable pressure from Japan’s French and US nuclear partners.71  Tokyo could offer New Delhi nuclear co-operation with the explicit understanding that if India were to conduct nuclear weapon tests this would be grounds to terminate the co-operation. This condition could be written into contracts that Japanese vendors signed with Indian counterparts as well. Such a condition would be consistent with the terms that the US Congress originally set in the Hyde Act which allowed the Bush administration to negotiate a nuclear co-operation agreement with India.72

Outcome of NPT Review Conference 2010

Member countries of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty adopted a detailed plan of small steps down a long road towards nuclear disarmament, including a sharply debated proposal to move towards banning doomsday arms from the Middle East. The 28-page final declaration was approved by consensus on the last day of the month-long conference. Iran and Syria had dissented loudly on various points in the final hours, but no objections were raised in the concluding session. “All eyes the world over are watching us,” the conference president, Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines, said before gaveling the final document into the record.73

Under this action plan, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states commit to speed up arms reductions, take other steps to diminish the importance of atomic weapons, and report back on progress by 2014.74

The final document also calls for convening a conference in 2012 “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”75

RevCon called on Israel to join the treaty, which would oblige it to do away with the nuclear weapons it is widely believed to have but does not acknowledge. It mentioned the importance of Israel’s accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.76 Diplomats  approved  a  document  that  laid  out  action  plans  on the three pillars of the treaty — disarmament, non-proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy.77

Specific text adopted in the Final Document includes:78

Additional Protocol. For the first time an NPT document, endorses the Additional Protocol, together with a comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement, as the enhanced standard for verification of the NPT. It encourages all parties to conclude and bring into force additional protocols. {Action 28}.

Non-Proliferation. It emphasizes resolving all cases of noncompliance with safeguards obligations in full conformity with the IAEA statute {Action 27}.  The document underscores the importance of the IAEA exercising fully its mandate and authority to verify states’ nuclear activities, including the absence of undeclared activities. {Paragraph 24}.  It supports strengthening the IAEA and assuring it has sufficient resources to effectively meet its safeguards responsibilities. {Paragraphs 24, 25 and Action 33}. It calls for strengthened export controls, including whether a recipient has brought into force IAEA safeguards obligations when making decisions on exports of nuclear technology; {Actions 35-37}. Moreover, it urges parties to improve standards to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and become parties to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  {Action 45}.

Compliance. The document  underscores  importance of addressing compliance matters in order to uphold the integrity of the NPT and IAEA safeguards system.  {Action 26}. It reinforces the role of the UN Security Council to take appropriate measures in cases of violations reported to it.  For the first time in any NPT final document, the Review Conference has addressed abuse of the Treaty’s withdrawal provisions, thereby endorsing the view that withdrawing parties are responsible for violations committed while being a party to the treaty and that the nuclear supplier should incorporate dismantling and/or return clauses in the event of withdrawal.

Disarmament. The document also supports the vision of working for  a  world  without  nuclear  weapons  (Action  3)  “…to  undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons….” It applauded the achievement of the US-Russian New START agreement and the goal of pursuing deeper reductions of all types of nuclear weapons. {Paragraph 90 and Action 4}. It supports the start of negotiations, without delay, of a fissile material cutoff treaty. {Paragraph E.i and Action 15}. The statement reaffirms the importance of the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, calls upon all states to refrain from nuclear weapon test explosions in the meanwhile, and supports the full development of the CTBTO’s verification regime. {Actions 10- 14}.

Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology. Emphasizes that peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be made available to all Parties in conformity with the NPT’s nonproliferation provisions.  {Action 57}. It encourages all to contribute to the US Peaceful Uses Initiative, a Presidential initiative announced by Secretary Hillary Clinton in her opening statement at the Review Conference General Debate on 3 May.  {Action 55}. The Document supports efforts to pursue agreement on international fuel banks and related multilateral mechanisms for assurance of nuclear supply and related nuclear fuel services.  {Action 58}.

Nuclear Security. The  final  document  acknowledges  the  Nuclear Security Summit and carries forward its recommendations, including recognition of the IAEA’s role in promoting nuclear security cooperation and best practices and the need to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium in the civilian sector.  {Paragraphs 66-70 and Action 61}.


The final document drew all shades of reactions. A select response is as summarized:-

The United States of America. Text of President Obama’s statement is as follows:79

“The United States welcomes the agreements reached at the 2010

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime. The NPT must be at the center of our global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons around the world, while pursuing the ultimate goal of a world without them. This agreement includes balanced and practical steps that will advance non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which are critical pillars of the global non-proliferation regime. It reaffirms many aspects of the agenda that I laid out in Prague, and which we have pursued together with other nations over the last year, and underscores that those nations that refuse to abide by their international obligations must  be  held  accountable.  The  document  includes  an  agreement to hold a regional conference in 2012 to discuss issues relevant to a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems. The United States has long supported such a zone, although our view is that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full compliance by all regional states with their arms control and nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for its establishment. We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel, and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security. The greatest threat to proliferation in the Middle East, and to the NPT, is Iran’s failure to live up to its NPT obligations. Today’s efforts will only strengthen the NPT as a critical part of our efforts to ensure that all nations meet their NPT and non-proliferation obligations, or face consequences. Together, we must work for a world where nation’s benefit from the peaceful power of nuclear energy, while also being secure from the threat posed by nuclear proliferation.”

US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones said in a statement that the US has “serious reservations” about the conference and ‘deplores’ the decision to single out Israel in the Mideast section of the document. As a co-sponsor of the 2012 conference, he said, the United States will ensure that it will only take place “if and when all countries feel confident that they can attend.” “Because of (the) gratuitous way that Israel has been singled out, the prospect for a conference in 2012 that involves all key states in the region is now in doubt,” Jones said.80  Despite the decision of NPT review conference, some US officials questioned whether Israel could be persuaded to attend the conference.81

Israel’s Reaction. Israel denounced the resolution as “hypocritical” and said it would refuse to take part in a conference on the subject. Israel said the resolution singled out the Jewish state and failed to mention Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world,” said a statement released in Toronto by the Israeli government, as at that time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on a visit to Canada.82  This Arab idea of a WMD-free zone is designed to pressure Israel to give up its undeclared nuclear arsenal. Israel denounced the “hypocrisy”83  of a UN call for a nuclear- free Middle East that singled it out but ignored Iran, which is suspected of seeking the bomb and which welcomed the document. “This accord has the hallmark of hypocrisy. Only Israel is mentioned, while the text is silent about other countries like India, Pakistan and North Korea, which have nuclear arms, or even more seriously, Iran, which is seeking to obtain them,” a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.84  “The fact that no reference is made to Iran is even more shocking, given that the International Atomic Energy Agency has disclosed more and more information in recent months on the military character of Iranian nuclear projects,” the official added.85  Separately, an unnamed senior official was quoted on public radio as saying the decision was a “negative change for Israel,” but also expressing doubt that it would lead to anything concrete.86

NAM / Egypt’s Reaction. It is “an important step forward towards the realization of the goals and objectives of the treaty,” Egypt’s Maged Abedelaziz said, while speaking for the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement  of  mainly  developing  countries.87    “We  are  aware  that the adopted final document did not benefit to a great extent from the elements of the plan of action presented by the Non-Aligned Movement on the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”88 Several Non-Alignment Movement members criticized the final document because many of the Western nations did not make any concrete pledge to reduce their nuclear arsenals nor was the timeline of 2025 to get rid of the nuclear weapons accepted in the draft.89

France’s Point of View. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed reservations about the accord for not being more “inclusive… particularly on the Iranian crisis which is the focus of the international community’s concerns.”90

Iran’s Reaction. Iranian IAEA representative Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the state-owned news agency, IRNA, that the United States, despite opposing the text on Israel, would have to fall in line with other countries.

“The US reservation is symbolic and it is obliged to go along with the world’s request, which is that Israel must join the NPT and open its installations to IAEA inspectors,” he said.91  Soltanieh, whom many feared would veto the consensus text, said that despite its “limited” nature, the final statement was a step forward… towards our common goal of nuclear disarmament.”92

Statement by the UN Secretary General. In a statement issued by his spokesman, he called the month-long conference a success. He particularly welcomed the agreement on a process leading to the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.93  “A strong spirit of compromise and cooperation has delivered a significant agreement to build a safer and more secure world…. The agreement on concrete actions will advance all three pillars of the Treaty – disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy… He welcomes the firm commitment of the nuclear weapon states to advance their effort to eliminate all nuclear weapons. He also welcomes the strong commitment of the state parties to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.”94


Non-proliferation has had a checkered history. It is a complex matter having numerous contributing fields and interlocking causes. It needs a wholesome approach. Disciplines like threat perception, resolution of regional conflicts, small arms control, regional power dynamics, prevention of numerical and technological preponderance, and mechanism for comprehensive and irrevocable negative assurances for NNWS are some of the factors which directly determine the direction of non-proliferation, or say proliferation. At best the NPT review conference 2010 was an effort at handling these issues superficially.

The good part is that despite serious differences of opinion, the final document was evolved through consensus. The point of concern is that this document is likely to raise more issues than it can solve. Turning the Middle East into a WMDFZ appears to be a non-starter. The NWS have once again been found wanting in their resolve to destroy their nuclear weapons. Even a NAM-sponsored time line of 2025 has not been accepted.

There is a wide perceptional gap between the treaty interpretations between the NWS and the NNWS. The final document could not have been further from reality when it urged the three de facto nuclear weapon capable states, Israel, Pakistan and India, to join the NPT as NNWS.

The initiative of non-proliferation has indeed passed on from the traditional NWS to neo-nuclear states and as well as the NNWS. This fact is, however, not acceptable to the NWS, who prefer to remain fixated to their traditional interpretations of the NPT.

To be effective, non-proliferation matters need out-of-the-box approaches and radical solutions.  If global zero is to be achieved, the world has to adopt an approach of Nuclear Weapons Convention on the pattern of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. At best the current non-proliferation regimes are fragile patchwork arrangements.


1              ‘National Security Strategy’; The White House, ‘Office of the Press Secretary’, 27   May,   2010.   ( pursuing-world-we-seek)

2              Ibid.

3              Merle David Kellerhals Jr. Staff Writer,America.govCompList@STATE.GOV Thu, 6 May 2010, ( english/2010/May/20100506145348eaifas0.8606836.html ).

4              National Security Strategy’; The White House,‘Office of the Press Secretary’, 27 May, 2010. ( world-we-seek)

5              Khalid Iqbal, ‘NSS AND BEYOND!’, ‘The Nation’, 19 April, 2010.

6              Ibid.

7              Ibid.

8              Tariq Usman Hyder, ‘Global Disarmament Challenges’; Research paper presented at the ‘Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One’ Conference’ held in Tehran, April 17-18,2010.

9              Ibid.

10  Ibid.

11  Ibid.

12  Chales J. Hanley, Special Correspondent,  Associated Press– Sunday, 2 May , 12:01 pm ET

13  Samuel C. Rajiv, ‘Iran and the NPT RevCon 2010’, IDSA COMMENTS; May 4, 2010.

14  Ibid.

15  Ibid.

16  Fact Sheet, May 3, 2010. Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

17  Ibid.

18  Ibid.

19  Ibid.

20  Ibid.

21  Statement of President Barack Obama on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. {Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.} Web site:

22  Khalid Iqbal, ‘NSS AND BEYOND!’, ‘The Nation’, 19 April, 2010.

23  Ibid.

24  Ibid.

25  Ibid.

26  Ibid.

27  Ibid.

28  Ibid.

29  Ibid.

30  Dawn, March 29,2010.

31  Tariq Usman Hyder, ‘Global Disarmament Challenges’; Research paper presented at the ‘Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One’ Conference’ held in Tehran, April 17-18,2010.

32  Khalid Iqbal, ‘NSS AND BEYOND!’, ‘The Nation’, 19 April, 2010.

33  Ibid.

34  Patrick Worsnip; RUSSIA “OPTIMISTIC”, Editing by Chris Wilson and Cynthia Osterman)

35  Tehran Times, Political Desk, 04 May 2010.

36  Tehran Times, Political Desk, 19 April 2010

37  Samuel C. Rajiv, ‘Iran and the NPT RevCon 2010’, IDSA Comment, May 4, 2010.

38  Ibid.

39  Ibid

40  Ban-Ki-Moon, ‘UN Chief urges NPT parties to agree to disarm’, ‘The Nation’, Islamabad, 25 May, 2010.

41  Ibid.

42  Jack A. Smith, ‘The Pentagon’s View of U.S. Power’, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, 04 May, 2010.

43  Ibid.

44  Ibid.

45  Ibid.

46  Ibid.

47  Tim Buchholz, ‘U.S Nuclear Posture’,; 04 May, 2010.

48  Ibid.

49  Ibid.

50  Ibid.

51  Ibid.

52  Ibid.

53  Samuel C. Rajiv, ‘Iran and the NPT RevCon 2010’, IDSA Comment, May 4, 2010.

54  Ibid.

55  Louis Charbonneau, NEW YORK (Reuters), Tue May 4, 6:27 pm ET.

56  Samuel C. Rajiv, ‘Iran and the NPT RevCon 2010’, IDSA Comment, May 4, 2010.

57 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Office of the Spokesman, For Immediate Release May 28, 2010 . 2010 / 697 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document (Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america. gov)

58  Samuel C. Rajiv, ‘Iran and the NPT RevCon 2010’, IDSA Comment, May 4, 2010.

59  Ibid.

60  Ibid.

61  Dawn, March 29,2010.

62  Tariq Usman Hyder, ‘Global Disarmament Challenges’; Research paper presented at the ‘Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One’ Conference’ held in Tehran, April 17-18,2010.

63  Richard Falk, ‘Rebalancing The World,’, 29 May, 2010.

64  Ibid.

65  Ibid.

66  Ibid.

67  George  Perkovich,  ‘Solving Tokyo’s  nuclear  conundrum’,  ‘The Wall  Street Journal’. Reproduced by Pakistan observer on 10 May 2010.

68  Ibid.

69  Ibid.

70  Ibid.

71  Ibid.

72  Ibid.

73  Dawn Sunday, 30 May, 2010; ‘Israel terms resolution hypocrisy: NPT members call for N-free Mideast’.

74  Ibid.

75  Ibid.

76  The News, 30 May, 2010. ‘NPT’s signatory nations meet in New York.’

77  Ibid

78 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Office of the Spokesman, For Immediate Release May 28, 2010 . 2010 / 697 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document (Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america. gov).

79 ‘President Obama’s Statement on NPT Review Conference’, 29 May 2010. (America.govCompList@STATE.GOV).

80  Dawn Sunday, 30 May, 2010; ‘Israel terms resolution hypocrisy: NPT members call for N-free Mideast’.

81  Ibid.

82  Ibid.

83  The Nation, 30 May, 2010. ’Israel, India, Pakistan urged to join NPT, CTBT’

84  Ibid.

85  Ibid.

86  Ibid.

87  ‘Dawn’ Sunday, 30 May, 2010; ‘Israel terms resolution hypocrisy: NPT members call for N-free Mideast’.

88  ‘The Nation’, 30 May, 2010. ’Israel, India, Pakistan urged to join NPT, CTBT’.

89  Ibid.

90  The News, 30 May, 2010. ‘NPT’s signatory nations meet in New York.’

91  Ibid.

92  Ibid.

93  ‘The Nation’, 30 May, 2010. ’Israel, India, Pakistan urged to join NPT, CTBT’.

94  Ibid.