NPT: The Challenges We Face

19 February 2005

Delivered by Ms. Susi Snyder, in Tokyo 19 February 2005

I represent the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). WILPF began its work in 1915, in an attempt to prevent World War I. Our dedication to creating a just and sustainable peace has only grown since that time. We have worked for total and universal nuclear disarmament since the atom bomb was first being developed, and we continue to do that today. We are also concerned about the legacy these ecocidal, suicidal and genocidal weapons have left for our future generations. One of the many problems with nuclear weapons is that their production leaves a toxic legacy for thousands of years, so even if the weapons themselves were never to be used, their very existence threatens the life of our communities and our environment.

WILPF has a project dedicated to nuclear disarmament called Reaching Critical Will. This project was created in 1999 to increase the quality and quantity of NGO participation in disarmament decision-making fora. We monitor the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva- the world’s only disarmament treaty negotiating body, we monitor the UN General Assembly First Committee on International Peace and Security, and we specifically look at issues around nuclear disarmament. That is why I am here today.

I was asked to speak about the challenges and strategies of international NGOs in the build-up to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. This is the seventh review of the NPT, a treaty that originally entered into force in 1970. This treaty is often referred to as the “cornerstone of disarmament” for reasons including: the NPT has more signatories than any other disarmament treaty (every country in the world except India, Israel, Pakistan and now, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and the NPT contains the only binding commitment to nuclear disarmament in a multilateral treaty on the part of the Nuclear Weapon States. Article 6 is where this commitment can be found and it reads:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The 189 governments that have ratified this treaty meet every five years at a Review Conference to assess its implementation. Originally intended as a temporary treaty, the NPT stipulates that 25 years after entry into force, a conference shall be convened to decide whether or not the Treaty shall continue indefinitely, or be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. In 1995 this conference was convened, and a package of decisions extended the Treaty indefinitely.

Five years later, at the 2000 Review Conference all of the governments – including the Nuclear Five (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States) – agreed to a 13 Point Action Plan for the systematic and progressive disarmament of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Yet now, only five years after that consensus text, many States are reneging on their promises and are threatening to throw away the 13 Point Action Plan. This cannot be allowed to happen, and that is one of the reasons why we are here today.

Let me put into context some of the challenges that we face in today’s nuclear climate:

First, there is a severe disconnect between disarmament and non-proliferation. These are two sides of the NPT coin. It is extremely important that the link between the two be revitalized at this upcoming NPT. It was on the understanding that the nuclear weapon states would irreversibly disarm their nuclear weapons that the non nuclear weapons states agreed to sign the treaty. This de-linkage carries serious implications for the goal of disarmament, which is the ultimate goal of the NPT and is highlighted in recent policy documents of some of the nuclear weapons states, in resolutions of the UN General Assembly First Committee, and in statements made at the preparatory committee meetings for this Review Conference.

Second, there is the challenge of terrorism eclipsing issues of nuclear disarmament. We have seen this especially in the Conference on Disarmament and the General Assembly. In the 58th General Assembly resolution A/RES/58/126 was adopted which frames the issue of General Assembly First Committee reform on the issue of terrorism and not on the dangerous role of nuclear weapons in international security, effectively shifting the focus of states away from disarmament. Once again, the UN Disarmament Commission was not able to come to consensus on an agenda- the UK wishes to discuss verification and best practices in Small Arms and Light Weapons, the US is pushing to discuss UNDC reform, this body is mandated to discuss nuclear disarmament, and this again demonstrates the trend of the nuclear weapon states to frame the debate around other issues- avoiding discussion of their disarmament obligations.

Thirdly, there is the other type of proliferation- vertical. Vertical proliferation is a way to describe the modernization and expansion of a state’s nuclear arsenal. Analysis of documents from some of the nuclear weapons states demonstrate that they are indeed spending money to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

For example, in the United States research and development is underway on nuclear weapons with new military capabilities and new nuclear weapons concepts to carry out new policy missions, including potential pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons to counter the use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against the U.S. or its allies. This includes so called “mini- nukes” (under 5 kiloton weapons) and other “low yield” nuclear weapons; new missiles and delivery systems with dual- use capabilities (both nuclear and conventional); modification of existing weapons types; a design contract between the Livermore and Los Alamos Laboratories to develop a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (100-300 kiloton or more) and; improved targeting techniques to make nuclear weapons “more usable”.

In Russia, the Topol-M ICBMs were redeployed in December 2004. Russia has reportedly modified the original Topol to create a manoeuvrable warhead, which they claim is capable of evading missile defence. This new warhead was reportedly tested in the last few months. In February 2004, Colonel- General Yuri Baluyevsky stated that the new manoeuvrable warhead and the other missiles tested were in direct response to US proliferation. “[The US] are trying to make nuclear weapons an instrument of solving military tasks, [to] lower the threshold of nuclear weapons use. Shouldn’t we react to that… I’m sure that we should and are doing that,” he said at a press conference, as reported in the International Herald Tribune.

Many mechanisms have been put into place to stop the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons- from one state to another, or from a state to a non-state actor, yet there are few attempts at halting the vertical proliferation of these weapons. The UN Security Council, while recognizing the importance of addressing gaps in the international legal regime related to the spread of WMD to non-state actors, is in no position to address vertical proliferation, since the five recognized nuclear weapons states all have veto power. It is up to the non nuclear weapons states to raise this issue at the venues afforded them- the Conference on Disarmament and at the NPT Review Conference.

There are other issues which will take the stage at the NPT Review Conference- NGOs are speculating that Iran will be a major issue, that the withdrawal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will be hotly debated, and that NPT reform will also be on the agenda. There are already several proposals on the table about NPT reform- including working papers tabled by Canada and Germany. These should be reviewed by NGOs and we should look at what we want to support. Do we think that the Security Council should be the body that deals with non-compliance with the NPT? Should there be an alternate mechanism in place? Should the states party to the NPT meet every year, with decision-making ability? Food for thought right now, but something that could be decided on at this upcoming conference.

In order to get their thoughts together about this, there are many activities taking place around the planet, organized by NGOs and governments alike. Disarmament diplomats met in January in Bali to talk about the Review Conference, they met here in Japan just last week, there is a meeting scheduled in France at the end of March, and they are having many sessions in Geneva and in Capitols around the world to fashion their positions. We must remember that delegates come to the NPT with their orders in hand, and if we want to have a strong impact we should be talking to them now.

NGO meetings are also taking place around the world in preparation for this review. At the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, Brazil, women and men came together for a panel “The Global Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.” The International Peace Foundation in Austria organized a panel discussion with Dr. Hans Blix: “Arms control and disarmament – The Iraq affair” and “International integration and the development of the UN.” In Ontario, Canada there will be a public discussion “Nuclear Disarmament and the Health of the NPT” on 21 February. The Swedish Network for Nuclear Disarmament is hosting a discussion 25-27 February titled “Reaching Nuclear Disarmament- new Challenges and Possibilities.” In Norway on 28 February there will be a seminar at the Nobel Institute: “The NPT in danger – What can be done?” featuring, among others, Senator Douglas Roche, the former UN ambassador of Canada and Chairman of Middle Powers Initiative and the Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Traavik.

Now I know that many of you have already heard a little bit about the Vision 2020 campaign. It is important to know that in some places it is called by different names- some are calling it the Mayors for Peace Plan for Disarmament, some call it simply the Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons. Though there are different names the campaign is the same- to call on governments to immediately begin negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and to complete those negotiations by the year 2020. You see, the NPT does not actually make these weapons illegal- and that’s something that the people of the world have been asking for, for the last 60 years, it was also the subject of the very first resolution of the UN General Assembly- something we should not let our governments forget.

Abolition 2000 (a network of over 2000 organizations around the world) launched the Abolition NOW! Campaign at last year’s NPT conference and has made the 2020 Vision an integral part of it. All around the world people are requesting that their mayors join Mayor Itoh and Mayor Akiba in the call for a ban on nuclear weapons. Abolition Now is also organizing a major demonstration and rally in New York City’s Central Park on the day before the NPT begins, and are working across the globe in other ways.

Let me talk about some of these…

Germany has over 150 Mayors enrolled in the Mayors for Peace Campaign. Latest enrolments include the Mayor of Munich and Mayor Seyfried of Mutlangen. Mayor Seyfried has won the support of 30 mayors in the region, who have also joined Mayors for Peace. Ten new mayors have joined as a result of a letter writing campaign to mayors in places where US or Soviet nuclear weapons were once based.

Greenpeace Australia is promoting the Mayors for Peace Campaign in Australia by writing to all Australian mayors with information, inviting them to join the Campaign and getting a local council to submit a motion to local council national body about supporting Mayors for Peace. They are also sending out a national cyber-action asking people to ask their Mayor to join.

Our friends in Belgium have been quite active as well; over 79 Flemish Mayors (approximately 25% of the total Mayors in the country) have joined the Mayors for Peace Campaign. Mayors from the Dutch speaking and northern half part of Belgium, as well as Brussels have joined the Campaign. For Mother Earth (our Belgian colleague organization) is working on getting mayors in the French speaking south to also join.

In addition to asking Mayors to join the campaign, next summer For Mother Earth is also organizing an international peace walk, to mark the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hundreds of participants are expected. For Mother Earth urges the nuclear powers and NATO member states to work towards a treaty for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons. The approximately 250 km peace walk will start on Tuesday, July 26th, in the peace town of Ypres – the first town where chemical weapons were used – and will end at the secret NATO nuclear weapons base at Kleine Brogel, passing via NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The walkers will appeal to the mayors of towns and cities along the route. At Kleine Brogel, a peace camp will be held from August 6th, the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, until August 9th, the day of the commemoration of the Nagasaki nuclear bombing.

In the United Kingdom, at a recent meeting in London, the Mayors of London, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow endorsed the Mayors for Peace Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons. Over 20 towns and cities in the UK are members of the Mayors for Peace, forming the UK Mayors for Peace Working Group.

Even in the United States support is growing for this campaign, currently, 54 US Cities are members, and this number is growing. The US coordinator of Abolition 2000 is also coordinating information about demonstrations across the US during the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings this summer. Starting 12 March women and men will begin a peace walk from one of the US nuclear weapons facilities (the Oak Ridge Nuclear Reservation) to the 1 May demonstration and the NPT Review conference in New York City.

The Canadian Peace Alliance is working to organize buses out of Montreal and Toronto to New York City for the 2005 NPT Review Conference. Canada has over a dozen cities signed up to the campaign as well.

Activities are also going on in Nepal, India and Pakistan to support this campaign- including translation of the campaign materials into local languages and outreach and education events.

Another component of the Abolition Now! Campaign is called “Dare to Plan”. We are encouraging governments to come to the NPT with their own national plans for disarmament- to demonstrate that they are indeed acting in good faith towards their Article VI commitments. We have sent letters to the nuclear weapons states requesting that they submit national plans for disarmament, and we recognize that these will have to be modified as time goes by and as they are implemented. This was inspired by the Indian government’s plan for their own national disarmament, a plan they might actually implement if there was indeed an international treaty (or convention) banning nuclear weapons for all nations.

At the NPT itself, there are a lot of things going on as well. NGOs are invited to organize side events- panel discussions, receptions, meetings, roundtable discussions and more. There is a running calendar of events on the Reaching Critical Will website (www.ReachingCriticalWill.org).

I already mentioned the 1 May demonstration in New York’s Central Park. This event is building off of last’s year’s demonstration which drew more than 2000 people, this year we are hoping for 200,000. NGOs in New York, and across the US are working together through two major peace and justice networks to make this demonstration a success- Abolition 2000 and United for Peace and Justice (a coalition of over 800 organizations around the US). There has already been a lot of media attention in New York about the demonstration, and we are hoping that we can re-kindle the energy that brought more than 1 million people to the streets of New York in 1982.

At the Review Conference there will also be many exhibitions- atomic art and atomic victims to name two. My organization will be publishing a daily newsletter- the News in Review, and you are all invited to submit articles, artwork, poetry and information to that (you can talk to me afterwards), unfortunately we only publish it in English. We will also organize daily briefings by governmental delegates and we coordinate the calendar of side events.

NGOs will also have an opportunity to address the delegates to the NPT in a formal plenary session. This three-hour session will be broken down into three areas this year: informed analysis, the people’s voices and, question and answer, a time for dialogue.

The informed analysis segment is where NGO experts will offer delegates their relative expertise on issues ranging from verification to fissile materials. People’s Voices is the segment where the Mayors, Hibakusha, down-winders, youth and others will have a chance to pluck at the heartstrings of delegates and remind them how urgent and popular nuclear disarmament is. The question and answer period will allow an opportunity for delegates and NGOs to discuss various proposals and to elaborate on some of them in the plenary session. Each of these areas has a specific convenor and each are generating draft statements now. I would be happy to speak with any of you during a break to let you know how to get directly involved in this process.

It is imperative that we pressure our governments now. We need to them to reaffirm the 13-point action plan for disarmament. We need them to begin negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons for all time, and we need to make sure that they move forward at this conference and don’t step back into a nuclear arms race. It’s time for the age of nuclear weapons to come to an end. Our future depends on it.