NPT 2002 Preparatory Committee Concludes

Mary Beth Nikitin
April 29, 2002

NPT Delegates meet at United Nations Headquarters in New York

NPT Delegates meet at UN Headquarters in New York

Report on the First Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) to the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference

The first PrepCom concluded its session on April 19 in New York with the adoption of a factual summary [1] of the meeting compiled by its Chairman, Ambassador Henrik Salander of Sweden. Of the 187 States party to the NPT, 137 participated, and Cuba attended as an observer. Representatives of 62 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also registered as participants. [2] The Preparatory Committee was the first meeting of NPT states since the 2000 NPT Review Conference adopted a Final Document [3] by consensus and since the Bush administration took office.

The Chair’s summary reflected the views of States parties to the NPT that the terrorist attacks of September 11th gave an “even greater urgency to the common efforts of all states in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation” and also stressed the need for multilateralism and multilateral treaties to meet today’s security threats. It also emphasized the need to achieve universality of the Treaty and full compliance with its provisions by all parties. [4]

Issues Discussed

Following slightly more than two days of general debate and a morning of NGO presentations, the Committee considered three clusters of issues related to implementation of the Treaty in the spheres of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, disarmament, and international peace and security; nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, safeguards, and nuclear-weapon-free zones; and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The Committee also devoted time to a discussion of three specific blocs of issues: disarmament, regional concerns, and nuclear safety and security.

The first week of the PrepCom was noteworthy for an unanticipated debate over the Chair’s proposed indicative timetable. At issue was the proposed reference to “reporting” on the implementation of the Treaty, the 1995 Decision on “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament,” the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, and the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The United States and Egypt were the most visible principals in the debate over the timetable, which was cast in terms of procedural issues, but was symptomatic of a deeper divide over the implementation of the strengthened review process.

Although intensive discussions outside of the conference room succeeded in resolving the dispute over the indicative timetable, the larger debate over reporting requirements was not settled during the PrepCom. Many countries such as Canada and members of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) proposed that reports should be submitted to each session of the PrepCom. A number of states also expressed their support for comprehensive reports covering all aspects of the Treaty and the “13 Practical Steps” from the 2000 Final Document. The United States and the other nuclear weapon states, however, preferred a more loosely defined interpretation of “regular” reporting and expressed opposition to attempts to standardize reporting requirements. They also were unenthusiastic about Canada’s proposal to pursue open-ended informal consultations on the subject of reporting outside of the formal review process. [5]

The issue of non-strategic nuclear weapons is another subject which traditionally has not been the focus of much attention in the NPT context, but generated a surprising amount of commentary at the PrepCom. The most detailed language on the topic was introduced on April 11 in the German working paper on non-strategic nuclear weapons. [6] The paper called for the formalization of the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991 and 1992, and for the negotiation of verifiable and irreversible reductions of non-strategic arsenals as soon as possible. These proposals were noted in the Chair’s summary. [7] Sweden and Finland, as well as the NAC, also issued major statements on non-strategic nuclear weapons, with stronger language than had been used in the past.

Another new item considered during the PrepCom dealt with disarmament and nonproliferation education. Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, and Uzbekistan all mentioned the work of the U.N. Experts Group on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education and its relevance to the NPT process in their statements during the general debate. Japan also emphasized the importance of the issue in its comments on the Chair’s summary, which included a paragraph on the subject. [8]

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Committee’s deliberations was the inclination of most delegations to avoid major confrontations on contentious issues such as compliance, implementation of disarmament commitments, and evolving nuclear weapons postures. For example, although a working paper introduced by Egypt on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition [9] was more forceful than anticipated by many analysts, a number of NAC members who traditionally were active in the disarmament debate were unusually silent.

Future Sessions

Although many delegations expressed regret that more emphasis was not given to items to which they attached particular importance, [10] the Chair’s summary was widely regarded as balanced and his efforts were applauded. The constructive, if modest, accomplishments of the first PrepCom provide a sound footing for the next session, which will be held in Geneva from April 28 to May 9, 2003.

[1] Chairman’s Factual Summary, BASIC,
[2] U.N. Press Release,
[3] See full text of 2000 NPT Final Document,
[4] Excerpt regarding reporting from Chairman’s Factual Summary:
“States parties recalled that regular reports should be submitted by all States parties on the implementation of Article VI as outlined in paragraph 15, subparagraph 12 of the 2000 Final Document. It was stressed that such reporting would promote increased confidence in the overall NPT regime through transparency. Views with regard to the scope and format of such reporting differed. Some States parties suggested that such reports should be submitted, particularly by the nuclear-weapon States, at each session of the Preparatory Committee, and should include detailed and comprehensive information, e.g. in a standardized format. Several States parties expressed interest in open-ended informal consultations on reporting to prepare proposals for consideration for subsequent sessions of the Preparatory Committee. Other States parties advocated that the specifics of reporting, the format and frequency of reports, should be left to the determination of individual States parties.”
[5] Canadian Working Paper (PDF format, 447k, 3 pages),
[6] German Delegation, Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons (PDF format, 72k, 2 pages), April 11, 2002,
[7] Excerpt regarding non-strategic nuclear weapons from Chairman’s Factual Summary:
“The importance of further reductions in non-strategic nuclear weapons, based on unilateral initiatives and as an integral part of the nuclear arms reduction and disarmament process, was emphasized. There were calls for the formalization of the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991 and 1992 on reducing non-strategic nuclear weapons. It was stressed that non-strategic weapons must be further reduced in a verifiable and irreversible manner. Negotiations should begin on further reductions of these weapons as soon as possible.”
[8] Excerpt regarding disarmament and nonproliferation education from the Chairman’s Factual Summary: The text reads, “Education on disarmament and non-proliferation was considered important to strengthening disarmament and non-proliferation for future generations. in this connection, the ongoing work of the group of governmental experts which is expected to submit its report for consideration by the 57th session of the General Assembly later this fall was commended.”
[9] See the full text of the New Agenda Coalition’s working paper (PDF format, 840k, 7 pages).
[10] For notes on delegations’ statements reacting to the Chair’s summary, see Rebecca Johnson, “Low key NPT meeting masks deep disagreements over Treaty implementation especially on Nuclear Disarmament”, April 19, 2002,

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