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Satisfaction with the NPT RevCon's Outcome

2010 NPT RevCon - Final Session (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)Irma Arguello, NPSGlobal Foundation, 28 may 2010

After painful sessions, consensus was reached today and the 2010 NPT Review Conference was able to deliver a Final Document.

Despite of opinions tagging the outcome as hardly modest in content, this result has been welcomed as a big success, mostly due to the previous 2005 RevCom's failure, s well as the difficulties of the latest days when consensus seemed elusive and such failure was perceived as likely to be repeated.

What is relevant is that the document lays groundwork to move forward on the three pillars of the Treaty: disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as on other aspects related to the administration of the international instrument.

The President of the Conference, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, from Philippines had a major role to achieve this positive result, but it is noteworthy that  the vast majority of delegations were also willing to reach a successful outcome.

During the ongoing debate the spirits switched from euphoria to distress, then to hope, depression or anger. A moment of great tension followed the agreement Brazil-Turkey-Iran and the immediate reaction of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the P5, as regards the agreement to implement further sanctions. Difficulties were a part of the process until the last minute when Iran tried to block the final document, and delegations like their colleagues from the Non-Aligned Movement let them know that they would remain with no support.

Since 3 May, the Conference reviewed each and every one of the key issues that make the nuclear field. The opposition of interests between the P5, nuclear weapons states and have-nots, and even among the latter organized into affinity groups, is inherent to the treaty from the very beginning, even so, all was done within an overall climate of cooperation.

The final text includes 121 points and a set of conclusions, follow-on recommendations, and an action plan which opens the door to renewed efforts able to keep momentum on what has been achieved so far.  

Regarding disarmament, although the pressures brought to the table led to a watered language compared to the first versions, the plan includes 22 more or less concrete actions. Among the most important is the call to build on the 13 Practical Steps committed during the 2000 Review Conference and the definition of PrepCon 2014 as a milestone to check verifiable progress on fulfilling the Article VI's duties. Elsewhere the document supports the early entry into force of the CTBT, as well as the prompt negotiation of a treaty on fissile materials, recognizes the legitimate interest of non-nuclear weapon states to request NWS the reduction on the operational status of nuclear weapons. It also calls to achieve total disarmament and then to maintain a world without nuclear weapons. It also appears the usual paragraph urging states outside the treaty (all with nuclear weapons) to access as non-nuclear weapons states, which is highly unlikely to happen. 

The actions regarding nonproliferation are molded into 24 points. While there were strong attempts to define the Additional Protocol of as the mandatory rule on verification, such an initiative did not prosper and continue as a voluntary commitment by states. However, it was noted that the Additional Protocol represents the verification standard which provides greater assurance to the international community and therefore the document calls for its universal adoption.

As for nuclear energy peaceful uses.The plan consists of 18 items including technical cooperation and the need to further discuss multilateral approaches to fuel cycle, from an unbiased and non-discriminatory point of view. It also emphasizes the importance of the role of the IAEA and the need for its maximum efficiency.

Special paragraphs are devoted to the Resolution on the Middle East, calling to start a process leading to the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone. The call for a conference by 2012 and the call for a facilitator to achieve the objectives are among the practical steps to fulfill the goal.

While positive, this result should be analyzed mostly as a  change of direction of a regime that had been gradually deteriorating with the passage of time, but if the statements do not turn practical actions and efforts are not chained with another ones, this RevCom will become a waste of time . Let's wait for a positive evolution. For now we must sustain the NPT, as there is no other option to reduce nuclear risks, each time more and closer. 

Final Document of the NPT Review Conference, May 28, 2010.