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The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference

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The 1995 Review and Extension Conference

 

Final Outcome Document
Decision 1: Strengthening of the Review Process
Decision 2: Principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament
Decision 3: Extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Resolution on the Middle East

 

The 1995 Review and Extension Conference had the responsibility of both reviewing the implementation of the Treaty and deciding, as required by article X, paragraph 2, "whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods". At the time that it was held, 38 more States had become parties to the Treaty, increasing the membership to 178 States parties.

It was the first conference of the States parties to be held since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and was also the first in which all five NWS participated as parties.

There was wide agreement that the full and effective implementation of the Treaty and the regime of non-proliferation in all its aspects had played a vital role in promoting international peace and security and that universal adherence to it was the best way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Conference welcomed the accession to the Treaty by an additional 38 States, among them China and France, as well as South Africa, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, since the 1990 Review Conference. Almost without exception the States parties very strongly emphasized the need to achieve universality, and quite a few specifically referred to India, Israel and Pakistan.

Already during the preparatory stage of the 1995 Conference, it was clear that there were deep differences among States parties regarding the review of the operation of the Treaty and its extension and that these two aspects were closely intertwined. Although the question of reviewing the operation of the Treaty and its extension were legally and technically two separate issues, it was expected that the outcome of the former would very much influence the decision on the latter. An overwhelming majority expressed strong support for indefinite extension of the Treaty.

However, several non-aligned States parties offered a variety of alternatives. South Africa proposed, early in the proceedings, a declaration on principles on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament as a yardstick by which to measure the implementation of obligations under the Treaty, which would be extended indefinitely and would be subject to a strengthened review process.

As anticipated, implementation of the provisions on disarmament (article VI) and on safeguards and peaceful uses of nuclear energy (articles III and IV) was a focus of contention. As regards the implementation of article VI, there was a noticeable convergence of views between the developing and developed NNWS on the need for the NWS to proceed more speedily towards the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.

Steps such as the completion of negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty (CTBT) no later than 1996, the commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material treaty and a firm commitment by the NWS to go beyond reductions envisaged in the second, bilateral, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), were overwhelmingly endorsed.

The NWS maintained that the arms race had ended, as demonstrated by the deep cuts in nuclear armaments being made by the United States and the Russian Federation following START. Significant reductions by France and the United Kingdom were another sign of this trend. A number of States, while recognizing that some positive developments had taken place, considered that the nuclear arms race continued, particularly with respect to the qualitative improvement of existing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. A majority of NNWS, especially non-aligned, called for an intensification of negotiations towards the elimination of all types of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery by all NWS within a time-bound framework.

Once again, the issue of security assurances was given significant attention. Responding to past demands from NNWS, the NWS issued statements just prior to the Conference, in which they updated their unilateral declarations on both negative and positive security assurances to NNWS. In addition, on 11 April 1995, the Security Council adopted, by consensus, a resolution on the subject (resolution 984 (1995)). Although this resolution was seen as an important and encouraging measure, many NNWS parties held that the declaration did not address their main concerns. They maintained that early conclusion of a multilateral legally binding instrument on unconditional security assurances was still required to effectively ensure the security of NNWS parties to the Treaty.

With regard to articles III and IV, all parties expressed overwhelming support for strengthening the IAEA safeguards mechanism and further enhancing the Agency's ability to carry out its functions. States parties agreed that the IAEA safeguards were an important, integral part of the international regime of non-proliferation and that they played an indispensable role in ensuring the implementation of the Treaty. Divergent views existed with respect to the implementation of treaty obligations in the case of two parties to the Treaty. While States agreed that the IAEA had played a positive role in carrying out Security Council resolutions 687 (1991) and 707 (1991), Iraq maintained that it had already been established that it had destroyed its nuclear programme completely. There were also differences of view with regard to the implementation of the safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/403) between the DPRK and the IAEA.

As at previous review conferences, there was broad agreement concerning questions related to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and on the inalienable right of all the parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of the Treaty. The parties acknowledged the importance of the work of the IAEA as the principal agent for technology transfer and welcomed the successful operation of the Agency's technical assistance and cooperation programmes. However, regrets were expressed that some non-parties had been able to benefit from cooperation with parties in a way that might have contributed to non-peaceful nuclear programmes.

As in the past, a great number of parties considered that the benefits of peaceful nuclear explosions under article V had not materialized and pointed to the serious concerns about environmental consequences and proliferation risk of such activities.

There was wide agreement among the parties that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones (article VII) enhanced regional and global peace and security and contributed to the ultimate objective of achieving a world entirely free of nuclear weapons. Satisfaction was expressed that all countries in the region covered by the Treaty of Tlatelolco now adhered to it and that the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty was successful in reinforcing in that region the global norm against nuclear-weapon proliferation. Also, the progress being made towards the conclusion of treaties in Africa and Southeast Asia was welcomed. There was, however, no agreement on a proposal, put forward by Belarus, for creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Europe. Strong support was expressed for a Middle Eastern nuclear-weapon-free zone.

While at the previous review conferences there had been agreement concerning compliance with articles I and II, in 1995, for the first time, the non-aligned States, with some support from others, argued that some NWS might not have fully complied with the letter and the spirit of article I with reference to transfers among themselves of nuclear weapons, or of their control, and when acting in cooperation with groups of NNWS parties under regional arrangements. There was broad agreement that article II has been complied with, the only violation having been by Iraq. A strong concern was also expressed with regard to the implementation of the safeguards agreement between the IAEA and the DPRK.

A number of States, particularly from the Middle East, expressed their misgivings regarding horizontal proliferation and referred specifically to the unsafeguarded nuclear facilities of Israel. This issue was ultimately reflected in the Conference's adoption of the resolution on the Middle East.

By focusing almost exclusively on the issue of extension of the Treaty, it was impossible to devote sufficient time to finding agreement on a number of sensitive issues because positions diverged so sharply. Consequently, the Conference was unable to adopt a Final Declaration on the review aspects of the Treaty. It was clear that though the majority of States parties were in favour of extending the Treaty indefinitely, there was no consensus on this question.

Three draft texts dealing with the extension of the Treaty had been put forward by Mexico, by Canada, on behalf of 102 co-sponsors, and by a group of non-aligned States, respectively. In the course of consultations, agreement took shape on a package of decisions containing the elements of review, principles and objectives, and extension.

On 11 May, the Conference decided, without a vote, that, "as a majority exists among States party to the Treaty for its indefinite extension, in accordance with article X, paragraph 2, the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely" . Together with this decision, it adopted the decision on "Strengthening the review process for the Treaty" and on "Principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament".

In parallel with those decisions, the Conference also adopted without a vote a resolution on the Middle East. This issue was of particular concern to the Arab States parties. The resolution, reaffirming the importance of universal adherence to the Treaty, inter alia, calls upon all States in the Middle East to accede to it as well as to take practical steps towards the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the region.

States that expressed misgivings with regard to the indefinite extension of the Treaty did so in terms of the lack of commitment on the part of the NWS to undertake specific measures leading to nuclear disarmament within a time-bound programme and of the lack of universal adherence to the Treaty.

Israel's non-membership in the Treaty and the fact that its nuclear facilities are not subject to IAEA safeguards roused strong reservations from a number of States parties from the region of the Middle East, which did not wish to see the Treaty extended as long as that situation continued.

The decision on indefinite extension was seen in a very favourable light by a considerable number of parties, whose statements reflected a variety of priorities. Some parties emphasized that permanent status would facilitate the achievement of nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

The majority of the speakers, whether or not they had reservations, reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives of the Treaty. By agreeing to extend the duration of the Treaty indefinitely, the States parties have given permanence to the only existing international legal barrier against nuclear proliferation. The decision on indefinite extension was reinforced by the other two decisions in the package.

The decision on a strengthened review process provides that, even at the preparatory stage, substantive issues and the question of universality will be considered, as well as procedural matters, and that the review conference itself will evaluate the results of the period under review and identify the areas in which, and the means through which, further progress should be sought, thus looking forward as well as back.

The three decisions and the resolution on the Middle East had a far-reaching impact beyond the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The States parties ensured that the Treaty was not only maintained as the core of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, but its indefinite extension both reinforced and rendered permanent the international legal norm against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) decided to extend the treaty indefinitely. This choice was favored over rolling extensions of 25 years, one extension of a fixed period or no extension at all.

The decision in 1995 to extend the treaty indefinitely carried, and today still carries, great weight. It also carried great obligations.

 

 

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