The 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 3 to 28 May 2010. The Review Conference was held under the presidentship of Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines. It considered a number of issues, including: universality of the Treaty; nuclear disarmament, including specific practical measures; nuclear non-proliferation, including the promoting and strengthening of safeguards; measures to advance the peaceful use of nuclear energy, safety and security; regional disarmament and non-proliferation; implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East; measures to address withdrawal from the Treaty; measures to further strengthen the review process; and ways to promote engagement with civil society in strengthening NPT norms and in promoting disarmament education.
The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) has nearly universal ratification with the exception of India, Israel and Pakistan. India argues that the treaty is discriminatory as it recognizes the right of five countries to possess nuclear weapons and puts condition upon other signatories that their right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is subject to their non-acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Though the Treaty also calls on the five nuclear powers for eventual disarmament, the so-called P- 5 countries have not made any drastic progress in the direction. North Korea also left the NPT and tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006.
Conferences to review the operation of the NPT have been held at five-year intervals since the Treaty entered into force in 1970. Each conference has sought to find agreement on a final declaration that would assess the implementation of the Treaty’s provisions and make recommendations on measures to further strengthen it.
The 2005 Review Conference had ended without a consensus document primarily because of disputes related to the nuclear program of Iran and Egypt’s focus on Israel’s nuclear program and implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution calling for a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
Three major events preceded the 2010 Review Conference: US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010; the Nuclear Security Summit (2010) was held on April 12-13, 2010; and Iran held the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation on April 17-18, 2010.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference was attended by President Ahmadinejad of Iran, while Secretary Hillary Clinton represented the US. Foreign Ministers of Austria, Indonesia, and several other countries, as well as Baroness Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union also participated. Inaugurating the Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that “sixty five years later, the world still lives under the nuclear shadow”.
He called for additional steps to be taken by nuclear weapon states towards nuclear disarmament, including steps for the universality of the NPT, a “framework of legal instruments that complement the NPT”, and “progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East and on other regional concerns”.
At the Conference, both UN Secretary-General and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano called for promoting the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and technical cooperation, and for greater cooperation on issues of non- proliferation and disarmament. Amano also said that “IAEA safeguards are a fundamental pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime” and that the Agency was working to “resolve important safeguards implementation issues in three states”.
Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, R. M. Marty N. Natalegawa said that the New START Treaty remained “below the international community’s expectations which anticipate more concrete, uniform and systematic nuclear disarmament”. NAM further noted that modernization of nuclear weapons arsenals constituted “non-compliance by the Nuclear Weapons States with their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty”.
Putting forward a proposal for nuclear disarmament, President Ahmadinejad of Iran called for guarantees against the use of nuclear weapons, a halt to research of nuclear weapons, a halt to cooperation with states operating outside of the treaty, the establishment of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, the dismantling of nuclear weapons in Europe, and a legally binding framework for nuclear disarmament.
In response, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Iran of diverting attention away from its own record and “to attempt to evade accountability”. She added that Iran “has defied the UN Security Council and the IAEA, and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy”.
Coinciding with the Conference, the US Defense Department released aggregate stockpile numbers for 1962-2009 which brought up- to-date a 1994 release by the US Department of Energy. The release led the Federation of American Scientists to estimate the United States as having 9,613 total assembled nuclear warheads.
The Conference achieved consensus with the 189 participating nations approving a 28-page final document towards nuclear disarmament, including the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The five nuclear powers—Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States—committed to speed up arms reductions, take other steps to diminish the role of nuclear weapons, and report back on progress by 2014.
The declaration states that a conference “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction” should be conveyed in 2012. It further urges Israel, which has not signed the NPT and is believed to possess nuclear weapons, to sign the treaty and place “all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive safeguards of the IAEA”.
The 189 nations called on North Korea, which has been under international sanctions since its first long-range ballistic missile test in 2006, to return “at an early date” to the six-party talks involving Russia, Japan, China, the United States, North and South Korea. Thus, in the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “A strong spirit of compromise and cooperation has delivered a significant agreement to build a safer and more secure world”.