Basic rules for the Non-Proliferation Treaty States: negotiation and nuclear disarmament, not proliferation and war

Press release - April 21, 2004
Addressing an urgent need to ensure peace, Greenpeace has called on the 186 State Parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to commit to serious and effective negotiations of the Treaty which will lead to actual nuclear disarmament and effective nuclear non-proliferation measures. It is widely expected that the meeting, which will open for two weeks on April 26th at the United Nations in New York, will be greatly controversial with the possibility of complete failure.

While the NPT is at present the only treaty containing a legal obligation on states to get rid of their nuclear weapons, Greenpeace views the Treaty as also fundamentally flawed. Recent disclosures on the proliferation of advanced European enrichment technology to Pakistan, Iran and Libya, have 'shocked' institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States is likely to push an aggressive policy at the Conference against the proliferation of nuclear technology and materials to certain states 'of concern', while continuing to support the civil nuclear programs of their allies such as Japan.

"The U.S. in particular, needs to commit to the global treaty banning nuclear testing, renounce plans to modernize their arsenal and undertake real nuclear disarmament. There is no prospect of this under the current Bush Administration. The predictions for this conference are not good. At the end of two weeks unless there is a dramatic change we will be further away from nuclear disarmament and effective nuclear non-proliferation than ever before," said Tom Clements of Greenpeace International.

In a communication to NPT states (1), Greenpeace has reminded Governments that in 2000 at the NPT Review Conference they agreed to the 13 steps on disarmament and non-proliferation (2). Four years on, there has been no progress. The global ban on nuclear testing is in limbo and further threatened by a possible U.S. resumption of testing. In a number of states, nuclear weapons modernization is being planned instead of disarmament. Meanwhile, proliferation of civilian nuclear technology and materials has continued, and negotiations of a treaty banning nuclear materials that are essential to making nuclear bombs have not even begun.

The majority of NPT states rightly want to see nuclear disarmament, but also support the principle of access to nuclear technology and materials. The nuclear weapon states, particularly the United States and the UK are likely to focus almost exclusively on specific non-proliferation issues, to divert attention away from their own nuclear weapons modernization in defiance of their legal obligations under the NPT to disarm.

"The commitments under the NPT intended to be applied universally and without discrimination have not succeeded. More than fifty years ago at the start of the nuclear age it was known that promoting nuclear technology and fissile materials would lead to more states with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapon states that have modernized instead of disarming bear a large responsibility for this failure, but so do those states that continue to support the proliferation of civil nuclear technology," said Clements.

Notes: (1). Copy of the letter to foreign ministers at:http://www.greenpeace.org/multimedia/download/1/459018/0/NPT_letter.pdf(2). Available at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/2000FD.pdf - see pages 14-15