Title: "Non-Proliferation Issues Extend Well Beyond NPT Extension." Delegates to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference are concerned about the universality of the
accord, its disarmament provisions and other issues not related to the agreement's extension. (950428)
Translated Title: La prorogation du TNP souleve de nombreuses questions.; Cuestiones de no proliferacion van mas alla de la prorroga del TNP. (950428)
Author: PORTH, JACQUELYN S (USIA STAFF WRITER)
NON-PROLIFERATION ISSUES EXTEND WELL BEYOND NPT EXTENSION (NPT: Delegates to U.N. meeting cite varied concerns) (1490) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Writer Washington -- Much attention has been paid to the crucial decision to be made in May regarding extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but there are many other critical issues being reviewed by delegates at the NPT conference in New York.
Every five years since the NPT's inception, parties to the treaty have gathered to review its performance and find ways to strengthen its implementation. However, this year's review holds special importance because some delegates are reserving their decision on extension until the review is completed.
The treaty, which entered into force in 1970, is designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and to promote the goal of achieving complete nuclear disarmament. The NPT gave the responsibility of creating safeguards for the treaty to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Following are some of the non-proliferation concerns being raised by delegates to the April 17-May 12 NPT review and extension conference:
TREATY UNIVERSALITY Membership in the NPT has grown steadily and accelerated in the run-up to the NPT review and extension conference, which began April 17 and will conclude by May 12. Eritrea and Monaco, for example, joined in March. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia joined in mid-April as did Micronesia and Palau. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have all acceded to the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states, allaying the concern of many about the nuclear weapons which remained after the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd noted that "it is not impossible" that the three threshold states which are outside the NPT -- Israel, India, and Pakistan -- may also "one day accede to the treaty as non-nuclear weapons states," joining the current 178 members.
DISARMAMENT For those who still doubt the commitment of the five nuclear weapons states to disarmament, spokesmen of Russia, Britain and the United States have made strong statements. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, for example, told delegates "the nuclear arms race has been stopped and put in reverse." He said it is "an indisputable fact" that his country "is committed to the final goal of complete elimination of nuclear arms."
U.S. Secretary of State Christopher told delegates that "the strategic forces of the superpowers are standing down while their nuclear arsenals are shrinking dramatically." And, he noted, the nuclear weapons states, including the United States, "have committed themselves to pursue negotiations for nuclear disarmament, which remains our ultimate goal."
Hurd pointed out that his country hasn't "folded its arms and decided that nuclear disarmament is only for others. We have got on steadily with our own reductions," giving up surface maritime tactical weapons and phasing out "free-fall bombs." In addition, he said, British nuclear forces will soon be limited to a single system deployed on submarines; no British nuclear weapons will be deployed elsewhere.
Many delegates to the NPT conference paid tribute to South Africa's earlier renunciation of nuclear weapons. But even South African Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo called for "further steps" which should be taken "to accelerate the pace of nuclear disarmament," including "the earliest possible conclusion" of a third Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
NUCLEAR FREE ZONES Christopher pointed out that "the number and reach of nuclear-weapons free zones is growing." Madagascar representative Jean-Pierre Ravelomanantsoa expressed his hope that a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) would be established in Africa as soon as possible.
Latin America has already concluded the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the South Pacific has the Treaty of Rarotonga, which set precedents for such zones elsewhere.
A nuclear weapons-free zone has yet to be achieved in the Middle East. NUCLEAR TERRORISM AND SMUGGLING Delegates voiced serious concerns about the possibility of nuclear smuggling. U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali opened the conference by saying, "The smuggling of nuclear material is no longer only a fear but also a frightening reality. When a significant quantity of weapons-grade material is seized by authorities, it is virtually certain that other movements of contraband are underway and can emerge in the hands of those who believe themselves beyond the reach of national and international authority."
The president of the NPT, Sri Lankan Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, described nuclear smuggling as one of the "fresh challenges" facing the NPT, and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel stressed that "weapons-grade fissionable material from dismantled weaponry must not be used to build new weapons and must not fall into the hands of nuclear smugglers."
Kinkel likened nuclear proliferation to "an infectious disease" which is "no longer a danger for states alone." He warned that "the unthinkable -- nuclear civil wars and atomic weapons in the hands of terrorists -- has today become conceivable."
In the wake of the April 19 bombing of a U.S. government building in Oklahoma City, NPT delegates and the media have been expressing growing concerns about the possibility of nuclear terrorism. On the day of the bombing, Sri Lankan delegate H.L. de Silva observed that "an abundance of unguarded bomb material could be as deadly as the abundance of bomb-making capability. Recent incidents show that terrorist groups do not overlook the mass-contamination potential of toxic (nuclear) material."
But former IAEA official David Fischer told some NPT delegations on April 20 that the scientific rigors of producing nuclear weapons currently put the process "out of reach" of terrorist organizations and a number of small countries.
Leonard Spector of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace concurred, telling an audience at the United Nations the same day that the manufacture of nuclear weapons is "very difficult to do" and that a terrorist is more likely to try other methods of invoking terror, ones that pose less personal risk and a smaller likelihood of detection.
Fischer said control of nuclear smuggling has to be primarily the responsibility of the country where the materials are originating. But he also noted that the amount of nuclear material which has been intercepted to date has been "far short" of what is needed to make even a single device.
FISSILE MATERIALS CUT-OFF Many delegates, including Kinkel, said the disarmament process can only be made "irreversible" if no more fissile material is produced for weapons purposes.
Hurd used his platform at the conference to announce that Britain "has ceased the production of fissile material for explosive purposes."
Botswana Ambassador Legwaila J.M.J. Legwaila noted during the conference deliberations that "most speakers have alluded to the dangers posed by the continued production of such material" because it adds to nuclear proliferation dangers and "encourages the illegal trade in fissile material...by individuals or dissident groups."
The United States remains optimistic that fissile materials cut-off convention will be negotiated.
NUCLEAR TESTING Many delegates emphasized their concern about the position of the nuclear weapons states on the issue of nuclear testing. Most NPT members have been pressing for the urgent need to conclude a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), including Thailand, which said that a "speedy conclusion" would "help demonstrate the sincere commitment of nuclear weapons states to nuclear non-proliferation and the total elimination of nuclear weapons."
Kozyrev said a CTBT with effective verification "is within reach." Russia, he said, "stands for signing it as early as this year" and continues to observe a nuclear testing moratorium which has been "repeatedly extended."
Vice President Gore, who led the U.S. delegation to the conference, noted that U.S. delegates to the CTBT negotiations have been instructed to conclude a treaty "at the earliest possible time." To accelerate the process, President Clinton extended the U.S. nuclear testing moratorium, he said, "to overlap with the expected completion of test ban negotiations and...withdrew a previous U.S. proposal for a ten-year withdrawal provision" as part of the CTBT.
Four of the five nuclear weapons states are observing a testing moratorium. China has indicated that it expects to be able to join the CTBT by 1996.
PEACEFUL USES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY The NPT is designed to promote cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology while restraining and preventing nuclear weapons development.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys told his NPT colleagues that while supporting efforts to halt nuclear proliferation, countries such as his should not be prevented from developing "civilian nuclear activities."
Singapore called for establishing the best available framework for further cooperation in peaceful nuclear energy uses.
EXPORT CONTROL ISSUES Hurd noted that export controls are needed so that suppliers remain confident that their exports "will not be misused." Such controls, he pointed out, only "bite...countries like Iran, about whose ultimate (nuclear) intentions there are widespread doubts." Mongolian Ambassador Luvsangiin Erdenechuluun noted, however, that while export controls have a valid place in the non-proliferation regime their application should be "non-discriminatory and uniform."