Report from the 2009 NPT Preparatory Committee

Miles A. Pomper
May 26, 2009

Details of the third and final preparatory committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) review conference.

Representatives of 122 countries participated in the third & final preparatory committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) review conference, held in New York, May 4-15. Also attending the event were CNS researchers and students. Miles A. Pomper, with contributions from Katherine Bachner, Luis Gain, Liviu Horovitz, Patricia Lewis, Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, William Potter, and Masako Toki, reports on their impressions and analyses of the meeting.

Buoyed by President Barack Obama’s April 5 speech in Prague calling for a world without nuclear weapons, similar statements by leaders such as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, and the launch of new US-Russian strategic arms talks, the PrepCom began with high hopes.[1] Delegates welcomed what they described as a new, positive atmosphere in contrast to the often contentious meetings that had taken place during the previous US administration. Unlike the final preparatory meeting in 2004, which was unable to agree on an agenda for the 2005 Review Conference, Chairman Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe secured approval for the 2010 agenda on the third day of the conference, along with the draft rules of procedure and endorsement of the candidacy of Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines for presidency of the 2010 Review Conference. With those tasks completed at the outset of the meeting, Ambassador Chidyausiku attempted the more ambitious undertaking, forging consensus on a set of recommendations to the review conference. These efforts, however, were unsuccessful, and the failure of States Parties to reach agreement on a text foreshadows the difficulties that await the 2010 Review Conference.

The Run-Up and the Agenda

President Obama’s election and policy pronouncements had already altered expectations for the PrepCom. Especially important were his April 1 joint pledge with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to negotiate a follow-on to the expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), his subsequent Prague speech promoting a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and the aggressive pursuit of practical steps toward that goal.[2] This theme was reiterated in his statement to the PrepCom, read by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, the head of the US delegation.[3] Ambassador Chidyausiku and the conference’s secretariat took advantage of the new dynamic to engage in pre-PrepCom consultations that led to quick agreement on the 2010 agenda.

The Agenda

In one clear indication of delegations’ desire to return to a pre-Bush administration approach to arms control and nonproliferation, the PrepCom approved an agenda that only differed in one respect from that adopted for the 2000 Review Conference. The significant difference concerned reference to the results of the 1995 and 2000 conferences in the agenda.

Non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) particularly those in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) , have complained since the 2000 Review Conference that the nuclear weapon states (NWS) have brushed aside disarmament commitments they made at previous review conferences, namely the “principles and objectives” of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and the “13 Practical Steps” of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. In particular, the Bush administration, abandoned two of the key commitments by withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and by refusing to seek Senate approval of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It maintained that it was not bound by those commitments and succeeded in excluding reference to the 1995 and 2000 conferences in the 2005 agenda.[4]

The US acceptance of the reference to the 1995 and 2000 decisions in the 2010 agenda represented an important step towards consensus, although it came with a qualifier: Assistant Secretary of State Gottemoeller made clear in her opening statement to the PrepCom that while the US reaffirms “the critical decisions […] in 1995 […] and 2000, […] many years have passed since those decisions were taken [and] we must be mindful of how much global circumstances have changed.”[5] On the other hand, the common statement of the five Nuclear Weapons States (P5) reiterated “the enduring and unequivocal commitment to work towards nuclear disarmament,” language taken from the 2000 agreement and avoided by the previous US administration.[6] Of the five nuclear weapon states, France and China were clearly not in step with the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia. France, for example, was not as eager to accept the agenda with the inclusion of this language, but in the end had little choice and did so begrudgingly. Indeed, throughout the conference, France was playing a rear-guard action on issues such as verifiability of the forthcoming treaty to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes (FMCT) and nuclear disarmament. Both China and France seemed have difficulties in knowing how to position themselves with regards to the more positive atmosphere created by the United States, United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation, for which they appeared unprepared.

The Issues

During the first week of the conference in the General and Cluster Debates, states laid out their views on how the treaty’s three main pillars—nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy—should be addressed by the 2010 conference. They also paid attention to the treaty’s withdrawal provision, Article X, which has taken on new relevance after North Korea announced in 2003 that it was withdrawing from the treaty (a decision that has yet to be accepted formally by all the other NPT States Parties) and then tested a nuclear weapon in 2006.


The new US policy direction and Obama-Medvedev joint statement had an immediate positive impact on the international community, as most states agreed that a reduction in US and Russian nuclear stockpiles would be the most important immediate step that could be taken toward nuclear disarmament. States also pushed the United States and Russia to make these reductions in a transparent, verifiable, and irreversible manner. Many states have argued that the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty or Moscow Treaty—which significantly reduced the two countries’ arsenals of offensively deployed strategic weapons—did not meet these criteria.

In addition to the need to move ahead with START follow-on negotiations, the conference generally agreed on the need to strive toward early entry into force of the CTBT and to begin negotiations to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes within the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD)—a prospect that was regarded as increasingly likely according to top US officials. With respect to the CTBT, the United States and China, who, among others, must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, stated they would pursue ratification of the treaty and work to ensure that other countries do so as well. The US Senate rejected the CTBT in 1999, but President Obama has pledged an aggressive new effort to win Senate approval.

While warmly welcoming the renewed enthusiasm for nuclear disarmament, the NNWS remain deeply concerned over what they see as the NWS failure to fulfill their prior NPT disarmament promises. Illustrative of this perspective was the statement made by Indonesia on behalf of the NAM: “While we note the recent statements by NWS of their intention to pursue actions in achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, we reaffirm the need for urgent actions by the NWS to achieve these goals. These actions are needed to bolster the 13 practical steps in the field of nuclear disarmament.”[7] In response, the United Kingdom expressed the typical NWS position that, “It has been disappointing to hear at this stage in our discussions some delegations assert that the nuclear-weapon states are not meeting their side of the bargain… there has been significant progress in nuclear disarmament over the last 20 years. To pretend otherwise is to fail to look at the facts.”[7]


In their statements in this area, delegations focused on the challenges facing the NPT at a time of growing global interest in nuclear energy. In particular, these statements emphasized the important role of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and broader NPT obligations. Delegations also called on those not yet members to the treaty to join immediately. Great importance was also attached to nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) as a means of attaining nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, with the NAM, the New Agenda Coalition, Russia, the United Kingdom and others emphasizing the need for progress toward such a zone in the Middle East. Many states also welcomed the recent entry into force of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ).

One point of contention concerned how to universalize the IAEA’s 1997 Model Additional Protocol. This voluntary protocol strengthens existing mandatory (“comprehensive”) safeguards on nuclear material and nuclear energy facilities in NNWS by providing IAEA inspectors with additional legal authority, particularly to ferret out undeclared nuclear activities.

Industrially developed countries, including those in the European Union, sought to make the protocol the standard for safeguards, beyond the current comprehensive safeguards required of NNWS today. The Czech Republic on behalf of the EU stated, “the IAEA comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, supplemented by Additional Protocols in force, represent the current verification standard, and accords a high priority to their implementation….”[8] Russia said the protocol “considerably increases the Agency’s capability to detect undeclared activities and nuclear materials and provides credible assurance of their absence. We strongly believe that in the future, Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocols to them should become a universally accepted standard to verify the compliance of states parties to the NPT with their nonproliferation obligations….”[9]

NAM representatives, however, expressed concern over what they perceived to be further restrictions on the “inalienable right” recognized by Article IV of the treaty to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Brazil, an observer to the NAM and a country which has its own enrichment facility but has not signed the Additional Protocol, expressed this sentiment when it stated that “The need to contain proliferation… should not in any way… hinder the inalienable right of States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes….”[10] It added that there was no need for the Additional Protocol because, “The existing IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards mechanism provides credible assurance of non-diversion of nuclear material from declared activities.”[11]

Developed countries, also argued that states needed to do more to address possible cases of noncompliance with NPT obligations, with the EU and countries such as Australia pointing a particular finger at Iran.

All state delegations supported a call for those outside the NPT to join the treaty immediately. The United Kingdom’s representative declared, “Let me state unequivocally our commitment to the universalization of the NPT and call on those states, India, Israel, and Pakistan, that have not signed to do so as non-nuclear-weapon states. The United Kingdom also calls on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to full participation in the NPT and compliance with its obligations.”[12]

Finally, states expressed common support for NWFZs as a means of strengthening the NPT. Such zones already are in force in South America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the South Pacific, and a treaty covering Africa only needs to be ratified by one more state before it enters into force. The delegations reaffirmed their support for existing NWFZs and for the need of establishing one in the Middle East “as set out in the Middle East Resolution at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.”[1]

Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

With many countries considering nuclear power as a potential low-carbon means of meeting long-term energy needs, the European Union called for additional measures to “ensure a responsible development” of nuclear energy by supporting “multilateral schemes which may offer a credible alternative to the development of national enrichment and reprocessing capabilities” without prejudice to rights under Article IV.[13] Several initiatives to develop multilateral and bilateral fuel banks were discussed as credible measures. Such an example included the measure initiated by the private Nuclear Threat Initiative and the IAEA to establish an “IAEA Nuclear Fuel Bank,” which has received financial support from the United States, the EU, European the United Arab Emirates, Norway and Kuwait and which is set to be discussed by the IAEA Board of Governors in the next few months. The conference also discussed a Russian proposal to establish its own 120 ton fuel bank available to the IAEA and co-located at its new International Uranium Enrichment Center in Angarsk, Siberia, set to be considered by the IAEA board in June.

Many NNWS, such as Brazil, Egypt, and Turkey continued to express concern that such proposals would lead to restrictions on their Article IV rights. Brazil, for example, argued that that multilateral fuel cycle approaches should not “hamper legitimate peaceful programs developed… under IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreements….”[14] Turkey emphasized that fuel banks must be based on the principle of “voluntary participation.”[15]

In addition to concerns that multilateral fuel arrangements would erode states’ rights to pursue certain aspects of the fuel cycle, several countries, including Iran, Egypt and Syria, voiced their reservations about “double standards” and discriminatory actions that have occurred in this manner. They argued that restrictions have been placed on certain states, but not on others. The Egyptian delegation questioned the rhetoric of “responsible” versus “irresponsible” nuclear technology or states, asking if “emerging nuclear programs should only give birth to proliferation-resistant reactors without front or back ends [of the fuel cycle], would not those States who continue to run front and back-end and heavy water reactors be, by definition, irresponsible? Or must we consider that what is irresponsible for some is responsible for another?”[16]

These states specifically mentioned the decision by members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to exempt India, a non-member to the NPT, from NSG guidelines. Switzerland stated that “these discussions can be perceived as a double standard which is not helpful when it comes to encouraging some States Parties to keep accepting the principles of the fundamental bargain on which the NPT is based.”[17] Iran vehemently made clear that having access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy was the main reason for accepting the bargain of the NPT, and Egypt stated that without it the treaty is “fundamentally lopsided” and unbalanced.[18] It is worth noting that Austria tabled its long-awaited working paper on multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle proposing a non-discriminatory multilateral framework of supervision of all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle “from the cradle to the grave.”[19] This approach seems to have attracted more interest from developing countries than proposals that focus on the supply side only.


Several delegations expressed their concern over States Parties withdrawing from the treaty and the effects such a withdrawal can have on international peace and security. The United States stated, “North Korea’s efforts to produce a nuclear weapon prior to its announcement of its intention to withdraw from the NPT in 2003 were undeniably violations of its NPT obligations,” adding, “We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the NPT without cause.”[20] Canada said that no state should be allowed to withdraw and keep the fruits gained as a member of the treaty. It further declared, “Withdrawal… does not absolve a state from responsibility for violations committed while a party to the NPT.”[21] Iran, however, disagreed that such withdrawals represented a significant danger, stating that the failure of nuclear-weapon states to meet their disarmament obligations and that of India, Israel, and Pakistan to join the treaty represented bigger threats. Iran also insisted that any changes must come through formal amendment of the treaty, a step that has never been taken and would open up the treaty to other amendments—it is generally assumed that the treaty would not survive an amendment process.

Concrete methods were proposed by state delegations in order to prevent the withdrawal clause from being used as an escape hatch for states that violate their nonproliferation commitments, while at the same time not infringing the broader sovereign right of states to withdraw from treaties. The Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the EU, said any withdrawal notification “should prompt the Security Council to consider this issue and its implications as a matter of urgency, including examination of the cause for the withdrawal….”[22] The United States proposed measures to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation by suggesting “consultations among Parties prior to” withdrawal of the State, the return of all nuclear material and equipment provided before its withdrawal, and “at a minimum continued application of safeguards.”[23] Russia, while emphasizing a state’s sovereign right to withdraw from the treaty, also proposed that any state withdrawing from the treaty should provide a detailed statement explaining the circumstances of the extraordinary events leading to the decision, as is already described under Article X in the treaty.


Ambassador Chidyausiku generated three sets of recommendations during the course of the PrepCom. Although none of them enjoyed the full support of the assembled delegations, they provide insight into areas in which there is increasing common ground, as well as issues that continue to divide NPT States Parties.

May 8 (First Draft) Recommendations

Ambassador Chidyausiku released his first draft of recommendations on May 8, saying they were intended to identify concrete practical actions that stood a reasonable prospect of commanding consensus, address issues related to implementation of treaty, and build upon earlier decisions such as those reached in 1995 and 2000.

The recommendations called for the 2010 conference to consider adopting an action plan “setting practical and achievable and specified goals, and measures leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons,” including the CTBT, FMCT, verified reductions, greater transparency, reducing operational status, and refraining from qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons.[24] In a bold proposal, but one that was bound to meet with major opposition from some NWS, the document specifically recommended that the 2010 meeting “[e]xamine, inter alia, ways and means to commence negotiations, in accordance with article VI, on a convention or framework of agreements to achieve global nuclear disarmament, and to engage non-parties to the Treaty.”[25] The recommendations also called for NWS to make legally binding “negative security assurances” (pledges by NWS not to use nuclear weapons against NNWS) and to refrain from making qualitative improvements to their nuclear arsenals.[26]

Another recommendation suggested that the 2010 meeting “consider the proposal to call upon the nuclear-weapons States to convene a conference of all states of the Middle East region to address ways and means to implement the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.”[27] All states would be invited to consultations with a view to convening such a conference and issuing periodic reports to implement the resolution. The original draft also included positive language welcoming the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

On peaceful nuclear energy, the recommendations suggested that the 2010 conference reaffirm Article IV of the treaty and “[r]eiterate that restrictions on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should not be applied for political purposes.”[28] The document offered a long list of other suggestions, including supporting efforts toward multilateralization of the fuel cycle.

Regarding Article X on treaty withdrawal, the original draft simply recommended that the 2010 conference acknowledge states’ right to withdraw and consider modalities “under which states parties could collectively respond to notifications of withdrawal.”[29] This language stayed unchanged throughout the three drafts, indicating consensus support.

The draft recommended that the 2010 conference call on all non-parties to “adhere” to the treaty promptly and without preconditions (rather than join it as NNWS).[30] The recommendations also would have resolved to engage non-parties with a view to achieving this goal.
The initial draft of the treaty also recommended that the review conference “underscore the importance of disarmament and nonproliferation education as a useful means to advance the goals of the Treaty.”[31] In particular, the first draft specifically encouraged states parties to implement the thirty-four recommendations in a 2002 UN Study on disarmament and nonproliferation education. [32]

Second Draft (May 13)

After receiving comments on his recommendations in public sessions, closed-door consultations, and private bilateral meetings, Ambassador Chidyausiku reworked the draft. His changes weakened the recommendations on disarmament, civil society participation, and education, but bolstered those on nonproliferation and in implementing the Middle East resolution, with each of the three NPT “pillars” (not just disarmament) being allocated its own “action plan.”[33]

The key differences between the first and second drafts included:

  • Universality
    The recommendations were changed to suggest that the 2010 conference call on those states parties outside the NPT to join the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states and without conditions.This section also had new language on compliance—adding “[recognizing] consequences for breaches of Treaty violations.”[34]
  • Disarmament
    The new draft watered down the original recommendation to examine “ways and means to commence negotiations, in accordance with article VI, on a convention or framework of agreements to achieve global nuclear disarmament, and to engage non-parties to the Treaty.”[35] Instead, the May 13 revision merely recommended commencement of “open-ended discussions to identify possibilities available to establish an international legal framework for the achievement of global nuclear disarmament.”[36] The revised draft also dropped language calling for states to refrain from making qualitative improvements to nuclear weapons.
  • Nonproliferation
    The nonproliferation section was strengthened, recommending that the 2010 Review Conference reaffirm that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is “a threat to international peace and security,” as per the 1992 UN Security Council Presidential Statement rather than simply a “global challenge.”[37]There was also additional language on the IAEA, including a call for affirmation of “the need for full cooperation with the [IAEA] to resolve any outstanding verification issues,” which followed a new paragraph on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.[38] The revision also recommended that the review conference “[r]eaffirm the importance of acceptance of the Agency’s full-scope safeguards” and welcome the IAEA’s efforts to “increase the Agency’s ability to detect undeclared nuclear activity,” rather than just welcoming the IAEA’s efforts to strengthen safeguards.[39]
  • Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
    Rather than stressing “the need to intensify consideration of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle,” the new version recommended emphasizing “the importance of extensive and transparent consultations in the consideration of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle.”[40] The rest of the language in this paragraph was the same as in the original. Another paragraph was added to include language on cooperation programs to assist new nuclear energy states to develop adequate infrastructures for this purpose.A section on nuclear safety and security dropped a recommendation urging “careful consideration of measures of control and monitoring of global stocks” of weapon-usable materials “and the capacity to produce such materials” and supporting efforts to “enhance the security of stockpiles” of such materials or to minimize their use in the civilian nuclear sector.[41]
  • Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones
    The second draft went even further in addressing Egypt’s concerns, beyond continuing to recommend consideration of a conference on implementing the 1995 resolution.[42] It added a recommendation to establish a subsidiary body to Main Committee II at the Review Conference “to consider practical steps to promote the earliest implementation” of the 1995 resolution and to consider appointing a special coordinator to hold consultations with the countries in the region and report to the review process, which had been suggested by Egypt and supported by other delegations, including Russia.[43] Had the draft elements been adopted, this language would have represented a significant step forward in the long-delayed implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.However, the concerns of France, the United States, and the United Kingdom about certain provisions of the Central Asian NWFZ were reflected in the fact that this draft of recommendations included language that the Review Conference should “note” rather than “welcome” its establishment.[44] It is worth noting that this language was added without consultation with any of the Central Asian ambassadors.The second draft considerably weakened the language on disarmament and nonproliferation education by merely urging the review conference to consider the recommendations of the 2002 UN report.

3rd Draft of Recommendations

As the conference moved into its final two days, Ambassador Chidyausiku concluded that there was no time or inclination for agreement among States Parties. As such, on May 14, he recommended to the PrepCom that no further effort be devoted to agreeing on recommendations in order not to spoil the positive atmosphere of the meeting. This proposal was endorsed by Indonesia on behalf of NAM, but met with strong opposition from many other delegations, including several NAM members (e.g., Nigeria and Chile). As a result, the chair rather begrudgingly agreed to postpone a decision on the issue until the last day of the conference.

At the morning plenary session on May 15, a last-ditch attempt was made to reach consensus on the revised draft recommendations (CRP.4/Rev.2). The actual debate was conducted in closed session, a break from the previous two PrepComs.

The third revision of the recommendations contained several substantive changes compared to the May 13 version, particularly in the sub-section devoted to disarmament.[45] The reference to international stability and the principle of undiminished security for all, inserted in the second draft in paragraph 2.1.b, was moved to paragraph 2.1.c., with a specific linkage to such measures as reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons, reducing reliance on nuclear weapons in security policies, and reducing tactical (non-strategic) nuclear weapons. This change brought the language in accordance with the text of the 13 Practical Steps agreed upon at the 2000 meeting.

An interesting qualifier was introduced in the text referring to consequences of breaches of treaty obligations (1.a) and the need for cooperation with the IAEA on resolving outstanding verification issues (2.2.d). In the third version, both circumstances (breaches and outstanding verification issues) are qualified as “if and when they may occur,” a clear concession to Iran and possibly Syria.[46] Had the delegations reached these points in their discussions at the plenary, it appears certain that some nuclear-western states and Western states would have questioned the need for such language. The CANWFZ language was changed again with the recommendations suggesting that states “recognize” this development.

The final draft also reverted to the earlier language on nonproliferation and disarmament education once again suggesting that the Review Conference encourage states to implement the 2002 UN recommendations.

Although a number of delegations said that they felt that agreement was close, statements on behalf of NAM countries and by France made it clear that there was unlikely to be a chance of finding agreement. In addition, there was no time for delegations to get approval from capitals should there have been any convergence. After France took the floor to prolong the discussion on the preambular paragraph, Ambassador Chidyausiku called a halt to proceedings. A number of delegations responded saying that they respected his decision despite their disappointment and congratulated him on managing the conference so skillfully. Not all delegations seemed to be clear as to what was happening, believing that the discussion was demonstrating a merging of minds. Indeed, on the surface it did appear so. However, below the surface strong signals were apparently being sent that consensus would not be found in the room.

This result came as a relief to many delegations. While the vast majority of states parties seemed ready to accept either the first or second drafts, no one was entirely content with either. Breaking with the recent past, the Chair decided not to forward the recommendations to the Review Conference as a Chair’s working paper.


Most states parties at the 2009 PrepCom were content to have achieved an agreed agenda for 2010 in a generally positive atmosphere. Both Iran and the United States, which had frequently clashed fiercely at previous PrepCom meetings, largely kept their powder dry and maintained a relatively low profile. Iran was able to avoid much direct criticism and was not even mentioned by name in the US opening statement.

The United States was generally perceived as more constructive than in many years, and benefited from the personal popularity of President Obama. The United States, along with Russia and the United Kingdom, also profited from the more intransigent positions staked out by France on nuclear disarmament and other issues. For its part, the United Kingdom enhanced its position with articulate and generally constructive interventions, most notably a compelling argument on the conference’s penultimate day that helped prod states to continue efforts to find a consensus on substantive recommendations. Egypt and other Arab states succeeded in winning widespread support for new language on the Middle East NWFZ in all sets of recommendations, but surprisingly sacrificed that gain by not endorsing the revised draft recommendations. The Nigerian ambassador proved a crowd favorite with his humor and memorable folk wisdom, such as “Words cannot fill a basket.”[47]

France and China did not appear to be fully prepared for the new positions staked out by the United States and others and the speed with which the agenda was adopted. On occasion, France seemed to be vying for President Bush’s mantle by initially hindering deliberations over the agenda, then helping to guarantee that the conference would end in deadlock by its interventions on the last day. France’s objections to discussing binding negative security assurances or including the words “verifiable” and “fissile material” in the same sentence appears to bode poorly for progress on FMCT negotiations in Geneva.

For its part, the NAM was much less active than in previous NPT meetings. The NAM was unable to muster common positions on key issues and fumbled frequently. Its interventions in plenary discussions were indecisive and often ineffective, and more visibly than usual the NAM was replete with division. It was particularly striking that on the penultimate day, Indonesia’s plea to support the Chair in his call for early abandonment of efforts to secure any substantive recommendations was challenged publicly and forcefully not only by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands, but by Nigeria, Chile, and Brazil. And Indonesia made this call despite the fact that some leading NAM countries such as Egypt seemed to believe that the conference was very close to reaching a consensus.

Ambassador Chidyausiku and the conference secretariat deservedly received high praise for the pre-PrepCom consultations that enabled the PrepCom to reach early agreement on the agenda. Although many delegations (including those as diverse as the United Kingdom and Egypt) expressed admiration for the original draft recommendations from the chair, the recommendations may have been too detailed at this point in the conference.

Tactically, if Ambassador Chidyausiku intended to adopt the draft recommendations, he may have erred in presenting a revised text when delegates still had three days left to discuss it. It is also not clear why he did not adopt an approach that other states have suggested—that is, recommendations in terms of a truncated, headlined set of elements—when it became clear that a detailed set of recommendations was unlikely to be agreed upon.

Finally, Ambassador Chidyausiku’s analysis that consensus would not be possible so early in the end game disappointed a number of delegations (although it undoubtedly pleased others). Some suggested privately that he seemed more interested in concluding the conference early than in making a serious effort to negotiate until the last moment. He may well not have been successful, but he would have been perceived as having made every effort rather than walking to the finish line. However, one strong sense within many delegations is that Ambassador Chidyausiku’s decision to preserve the good atmosphere rather than to plow on through a text that satisfied nobody my well have been the best approach in the final analysis.

The Impact of the PrepCom on the RevCon

In failing to approve a set of recommendations to the 2010 Review Conference, the PrepCom may have missed a valuable window of opportunity. The conciliatory US position at the meeting was based, in part, in an effort to win global support for efforts to pressure Iran and North Korea by meeting the international community’s demands in other areas. The Obama administration is already facing skepticism in Washington from those (such as the Republicans serving on a recent commission on the country’s strategic posture) who think its diplomatic engagement strategy is unlikely to yield any fruit, and that the president is doing little to counter the true nuclear dangers the country faces. Those tensions may increase over the next few months after Iran’s presidential election and before President Obama and other world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly in late September. Absent a solution to the Iran standoff, Israel is already hinting that it might attack Iran next year if no progress is made to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. That could happen just as Obama is going to have to try to muster congressional support for ratifying the follow-on to START and the CTBT. By next year, this May’s positive atmosphere may have dissipated along with prospects for further movement on arms control and nonproliferation issues.

On the other hand, more positive developments may have ensued by May 2010. The Iranian election could see a swing to a more moderate government, the new US-Russian relationship could have produced a new strategic arms treaty and negotiations could have got underway at the CD in Geneva. It also is just possible that the US Senate will be on the way to ratifying the CTBT by early 2010. Moreover, the Obama administration, which by the time of the PrepCom had not yet caught up with its leader as an advocate of change in the nuclear realm, will have completed its internal nuclear posture review, and be in a better position to adopt more forward-looking policies.

In short, the 2009 PrepCom was a success by many standards. To be sure, after more than half a decade of posturing without any real expectation or desire to achieve consensus, the delegations were visibly surprised, and some even discomforted, when the opportunity arose to engage in a give-and-take process. Limited insight into the internal consultations of the Chair with the delegations makes it impossible to evaluate how far better outcomes could have been achieved in the second and third version of the document. Time constraints and the desire to accommodate numerous parties unavoidably led to a number of missteps. Nonetheless, it can be hoped that this process will lead to a reevaluation of positions in a number of capitals and the realization that a compromise at the 2010 Review Conference has to be carefully prepared in advance.

Perhaps that was Ambassador Chidyausiku’s intent—to afford a futuristic glimpse into next year’s debate and thus demonstrate how much work there is to be done between now and then. Certainly Ambassador Libran Cabactulan has his work cut out for him. He sat in full alert mode through the whole PrepCom, becoming increasingly aware of the tough role he will assume.

[1] Remarks by President Barack Obama, Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009,
[2] Joint Statement by Dmitriy A. Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, and Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Regarding Negotiations on Further Reductions in Strategic Offensive Arms, London, United Kingdom, April 1, 2009,
[3] Statement by Ms. Rose Gottemoeller, United States of America, Assistant-Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, General Debate, Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 5,
[4] Both the agenda for the 2005 and that for the 2010 conference call for “Review of the operation of the Treaty” However the 2010 document adds, “as provided for in its article VIII, paragraph 3, taking into account the decisions and the resolution adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the final document of the 2000 Review Conference.” Following Point 16 of the 2005 document, only the text “Review of the operation of the Treaty” was included, without any reference to the 2000 agreement. Ambassador Sergio Duarte, president of the review conference, was only able to win approval of the agenda after issuing a statement indicating the continued relevance of those provisions.
[5] See Gottemoeller, note 3.
[6] “P-5 Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Ian Kelly, Department of State Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman Bureau of Public Affairs, Washington, DC, May 15, 2009,
[7] Statement by H.E. Mr. John Duncan, United Kingdom, Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament, Permanent Representation to the Conference on Disarmament, General Debate, Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[8] Statement by H.E. Mr. Tomáš Pojar, Czech Republic Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the European Union, General Debate, First Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[9] Statement by H.E. Mr. Anatoly Antonov, Russian Federation, Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, General Debate, First Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[10] Statement by H.E. Mr. Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares, Brazil, Head of the Delegation of Brazil Permanent Representation of Brazil to the Conference on Disarmament, General Debate, Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[11] Ibid.
[12] See Duncan, note 8.
[13] See Pojar, note 9.
[14] See Soares, note 11.
[15] Statement by Mr. Fazli Çorman, Turkey, Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, General Debate, Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 5, 2009,
[16] Statement by H.E. Maged A. Abdelaziz, Egypt, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations, General Debate, First Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[17] Statement by H.E. Mr. Jurg Streuli, Switzerland, Permanent Representative of the Switzerland to the Disarmament Conference, General Debate, First Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[18] Statement by H.E. Mr. Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Deputy Foreign-Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009, Also see Abdelaziz, note 18.
[19] Statement by Mr. Andreas Launer, Austria, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs Deputy Head of delegation, General Debate, Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 5, 2009,
[20] See Gottemoeller, note 3.
[21] Statement by Ms. Colleen Swords, Canada, Assistant-Deputy Minister, International Security Branch and Political Director, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, General Debate, First Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,
[22] See Pojar, note 9.
[23] See Gottemoeller, note 3.
[24] Chairman Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe, “Draft Recommendations to the Review Conference” (draft #1),
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid
[32] The 2002 United Nations study on disarmament and nonproliferation,
[33] Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe, “Draft Recommendations to the Review Conference” (draft #2),
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid.
[37] United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement, S/23500 of 31 January 1992,
[38] See Chidyausiku, note 35.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Ibid.
[42] The text of the 1995 Resolution on a Nuclear Weapons free Zone in the Middle East,
[43] See Chidyausiku, note 35.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Chidyausiku, Zimbabwe, “Draft Recommendations to the Review Conference” (draft #3),
[46] Ibid.
[47] H.E. Bukun-Olu Onemola, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Nigeria to the United Nations Nigeria, General Debate, Second Session of the Preparatory Committee, 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, May 4, 2009,

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