Conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty a fiasco - Nuclear Weapons States defiantly ignore calls to disarm

Press release - May 9, 2003
While the most important conference about nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament finished today, member States of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) failed to agree a common understanding or way forward on how to achieve the abolition of the world s nuclear arsenals

Greenpeace flies a hot air balloon over Lake Leman with the banner message BAN THE BOMB clearly stated.

While the most important conference about nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament finished today, member States of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) failed to agree a common understanding or way forward on how to achieve the abolition of the world s nuclear arsenals (1).

At the same time a majority of member states during the Conference have continued to support the inalienable right under the NPT for all members to trade in nuclear technology and materials

For peaceful purposes (2). The almost complete failure of states to acknowledge that this inalienable right of the NPT provides countries with the means to have nuclear weapons is ignoring the current global realities of increasing proliferation.

Disagreement remains over:

* The lack of progress in bringing about the global abolition of nuclear weapons;

* Israel's nuclear arsenal and establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the region and the nuclear weapons programmes of India and Pakistan;

* The threatened use of nuclear weapons in even a conventional conflict by the United States and others and, in some cases, their use pre-emptively;

* New nuclear weapons development programmes;

* The possible resumption of nuclear testing;

* The failure to begin negotiating a treaty to restrict access to nuclear materials for use in nuclear weapons;

* The strengthening of the NPT to allow it to respond adequately to questions over non-compliance and withdrawal by states Parties such as the recent case of North Korea;

* The right of nations to have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes including Japan s plutonium reprocessing programme and Iran's uranium enrichment programme;

* The unilateral action of the United States backed by Britain in their attack on Iraq.

"We face a nuclear crisis of extraordinary proportions. The NPT is at present the only treaty containing a legal obligation on states to get rid of their nuclear weapons. It is the most powerful multilateral voice for halting nuclear proliferation and for achieving global abolition yet all they can do is agree to disagree," said William Peden, nuclear disarmament campaigner from Greenpeace International.

At their last review of the NPT in 2000, the nuclear-weapons States reaffirmed their commitment to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. There has been little movement in that direction and the overall goal of eliminating nuclear weapons in a framework of general and complete disarmament remains distant.

"At a time of increasing global proliferation threats, nations here have chosen largely to ignore one of the fundamental flaws of the NPT you can use it to access large amounts of technology, material

and expertise that can put you one step nearer to becoming a nuclear weapon state. That was the lesson exposed in raq in 1991 when its secret nuclear weapons programme was exposed and yet it still fails to

change global policy," said Shaun Burnie, nuclear campaigner from Greenpeace International

The states Parties will meet again next year before a formal decision making review conference occurs in 2005.

Notes: 1. Article VI of the NPT commits the declared Nuclear Weapons States to pursue negotiations in good faith to achieve the global abolition of nuclear weapons. 2. Article IV of the NPT is the carrot of the Treaty that encourages nations to join. States parties that commit to not develop nuclear weapons are rewarded with access to nuclear technology and materials.

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