Dr Anna Hood is a Civil Society Participant in the New Zealand Delegation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Auckland.
NZ is part of the UN Conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and has decided to secure some important progress, but was thwarted by Russia’s refusal to consent
opinion: With Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to use nuclear weapons in a war with Ukraine, nuclear-weapon states continuing to modernize their arsenals, and concerns over Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, the risk of using nuclear weapons is looming today. , larger than at any point since. cold war.
Against a backdrop of these concerns, 190 countries attended the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in August. For the past 50 years, the treaty has been one of the major international agreements governing nuclear weapons. It aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, pave the way for nuclear disarmament, and promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The Review Conference is an opportunity for the international community to come together to ascertain whether states are complying with the treaty, further its objectives, and develop initiatives to reduce the risk of nuclear disaster.
Given the grave risk of the use of nuclear weapons and the unstable security environment, the importance of the conference was high, and the terms of the negotiations were extremely difficult. As a civil society participant on the New Zealand delegation, I had the opportunity to be at the forefront of the month-long effort to secure an agreement and participate in formal negotiating sessions and several negotiations. I was. Many meetings took place among small groups of nations in the back rooms of the United Nations and in New York cafes.
Like many other nations in the world that do not possess nuclear weapons, New Zealand entered the negotiations determined to secure some important progress on the front lines of nuclear disarmament. It was many years ago that some progress was made towards a nuclear-free world, and there was a strong sense that now was the time for real action.
Frustratingly, however, the nuclear-weapon states, while lip-talking about the importance of disarmament, have been reluctant to make real progress from the outset. They argued that the current global security environment meant that it was not the time for strong action towards disarmament. Despite valiant efforts to emphasize what it means now is the time to pursue disarmament, such arguments have had little effect.
The conference was plagued by geopolitical tensions, and despite very different views on how to deal with the threat of nuclear weapons, an agreement appeared to have appeared on the final day of negotiations. The final document on the agenda was far from perfect, but provided modest progress on the front lines of disarmament, including the launch of a framework for measuring and monitoring the disarmament efforts of nuclear-weapon states. Moreover, against the odds, all countries were shown to be ready to sign it.
But, very unfortunately, at the 11th hour Russia broke the deal. From day one, the threat of Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and concerns over the capture of Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant dominated discussions at the conference. Many Western countries demanded that Russia strongly condemn its misconduct in the final agreement, but Russia has refused to consider any suggestion that it is wrong.
Despite strenuous efforts to accommodate differing views on the conflict and some very careful drafting, the Russians refused to participate. This dashed all hopes of an agreement being adopted.
It is very disturbing that the meeting did not reach an agreement. With four years to go before the next meeting, countries will have another chance to reach agreement on how to reduce the risk of a nuclear disaster.
This raises major questions about the adequacy of the non-proliferation treaty regime, and some suggest that it is time to pursue other avenues for nuclear disarmament. One such instrument is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, created in 2017 to outright ban nuclear weapons. The problem here is that the nuclear powers and their allies refuse to get involved. There are no easy answers. Let’s hope we don’t have a very serious nuclear crisis to force countries to take the necessary bold steps.
This is an edited version of an article originally published in University of Auckland’s UniNews.
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/bold-steps-needed-for-nuclear-agreement Bold Steps Necessary for Nuclear Deal