NPT conference ends in discord

The UN conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has closed with little accomplished in the way of new ways to enforce the fast-unravelling treaty. A May 28 report in the LA Times notes:

The United States tried to keep the focus on alleged nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea instead of its pledges to whittle down its own arsenal. Iran, which contends that its atomic program is strictly for generating electricity, refused to discuss proposals to restrict access to nuclear fuel and objected to being singled out as a “proliferation concern.” And Egypt joined Iran in demanding that the conference address Israel’s nuclear status and declare the Middle East “a nuclear-free zone.” “The conference after a full month ended up where we started, which is a system full of loopholes, ailing and not a road map to fix it,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters in Vienna as the conference fizzled to a close…

A number of diplomats put much of the blame for the deadlock on the United States.

Washington’s position has changed since the last conference in 2000, during the Clinton administration. The US has refused to reaffirm the 13 steps toward nuclear disarmament it agreed to in 2000, or allow discussion of Israel’s nuclear status.

Israel is widely thought to have nuclear weapons and, along with declared atomic powers India and Pakistan, is not a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty. North Korea withdrew from the pact in 2003 and has declared that it possesses nuclear weapons, though it has yet to test one. Critics pointed out that during the monthlong conference, the White House asked Congress to fund research on a nuclear “bunker-buster” bomb that could destroy buried weapons stockpiles – a move contrary to the treaty’s intentions.

“If governments simply ignore or discard commitments whenever they prove inconvenient, we will never be able to build an edifice of international cooperation and confidence in the security realm,” the head of Canada’s delegation, Ambassador Paul Meyer, said in a speech to the conference. “We believe this is a treaty worth fighting for, and we are not prepared to stand idly by while its crucial supports are undermined.”

See our last post on the NPT conference and Israel’s not-so-secret nuclear program.