Kyodo News Service – 2005-01-06 22:49:57
WASHINGTON (December 31, 2004) — The United States plans to suggest that a 2005 international conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should invalidate a document adopted at a 2000 meeting in which five nuclear powers committed to an “unequivocal undertaking” to a nuclear-free world, according to US government and congressional sources.
A US government official described the final accord adopted during the 2000 NPT review conference as a “simply historical document” and pointed out the need to adopt a new document reflecting drastic changes in international security conditions, including the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Such an attempt could be interpreted by nonnuclear powers as reduced commitment by the United States to nuclear disarmament and could jeopardize the nonproliferation regime under the 1968 treaty by possibly prompting countries such as North Korea and Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons development, critics say.
187 Nations Signed the NPT
In the 2000 review conference, 187 signatories to the NPT adopted the document, which includes 13 steps to nuclear disarmament to be implemented by the five powers — the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France — as well as nonnuclear powers.
“We think the international situation with regard to nonproliferation has changed so radically that the review conference should not be looking backward at the past final document,” said the US official in reference to the conference scheduled for May in New York.
The official said the administration of President George W. Bush “no longer supports all of the 13 steps” because some aspects of those steps are outdated.
Bush Terminated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002
For example, the 2000 accord called for strengthening the 1972 antiballistic missile treaty, which barred the United States and Russia from deploying full-scale national missile defense systems. However, the ABM treaty was terminated in 2002 with the US withdrawal.
“There is no such thing as implementing the 13 steps,” the official said, adding the administration does not see the final accord as “being a road map or binding guideline or anything like that.”
“We need to be pursuing a new document that reflects what has happened over the last five years,” the official said.
A congressional source also pointed out that an article in the NPT which requires nuclear powers to make a serious commitment to disarmament was created against the backdrop of a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The source said that Washington does not intend to make the 13 steps a precondition for negotiations at the 2005 review conference and that those measures will not become a real issue at the meeting.
Thomas Graham, former special representative of the US president for arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament, said he believes the US delegation at the review conference “would be under very firm instructions not to agree to” the point of an “unequivocal undertaking” to total elimination of nuclear weapons.
“If the US is not going to observe its commitment, then the treaty becomes politically unbalanced,” said Graham, who served under all US administrations from President Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton.
He expressed concern about possible nuclear proliferation, saying nonnuclear powers could start developing nuclear weapons. They could follow in the footsteps of India and Pakistan, non-parties to the NPT that conducted nuclear tests in 1998, Graham said.
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