Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The Obameter

Organize successful Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010


"Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work with our allies and other countries to achieve a successful outcome in 2010 that strengthens the NPT. The initiatives Barack Obama and Joe Biden pledge to undertake to enhance nuclear security and further U.S. commitments under the treaty will contribute greatly to that effort."

Updates

Challenging conference went off successfully

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "work with our allies and other countries to achieve a successful outcome" for a scheduled 2010 review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

First, some background on the treaty and the conference.

In the United Nations' words, the treaty "was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy." Specifically, each nuclear-armed party to the treaty pledges not to share nuclear weapons or nuclear technology with anyone else. At the same time, each non-nuclear-weapon state pledges not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. The treaty enforces this through International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.

The treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires member nations to hold a review conference every five years. The one the promise was referred to was scheduled for 2010.

The conference was held for much of the month of May 2010 at the United Nations in New York City. According to an account in the New York Times, the conference was notable for "hard-fought negotiations” over the future of the treaty, with 189 nations "reaffirming their commitment to eliminating all nuclear weapons and setting a new 2012 deadline for holding a regional conference to eliminate unconventional weapons from the Middle East.”

Though challenges remain -- including the question of whether a conference on the sensitive Middle East can be pulled together in time -- the conference was considered more successful than the prior one in 2005, which ended with unbridgeable disagreements.

So the administration helped bring the conference to completion and ended up with a more harmonious outcome than the conference five years earlier. Despite continuing challenges in non-proliferation, from Iran to North Korea, we rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Home page for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation review conference

New York Times, "189 Nations Reaffirm Goal of Ban on Nuclear Weapons,” May 29, 2010

E-mail interview with Matthew Bunn, professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, July 20, 2011

Administration getting ready for Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "work with our allies and other countries to achieve a successful outcome" for a scheduled 2010 review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

First, some background on the treaty and the conference.

In the United Nations' words, the treaty "was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy." Specifically, each nuclear-armed party to the treaty pledges not to share nuclear weapons or nuclear technology with anyone else. At the same time, each non-nuclear-weapon state pledges not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. The treaty enforces this through International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.

The treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires member nations to hold a review conference every five years. The next one is scheduled for 2010.

The most notable move that the Obama administration has made in regard to the 2010 conference came in September 2009, when it led the successful effort to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1887. The resolution underscores that the Non-Proliferation Treaty "remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime" and calls upon parties to the treaty to "contribute in a constructive and balanced way to the 2010 Review Conference."

Other elements that could contribute to a successful review conference remain to be completed, said Leonor Tomero, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Council for a Livable World. These include the results of a nuclear posture review by the Defense Department scheduled for early 2010; negotiations with Russia to produce a new Strategic Arms Reduction (or START) Treaty; and progress on winning Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by the United States but rejected by the Senate a decade ago ( see Promise 198 ).

Clearly, much remains to be done before the review conference, but the administration has been working on these issues. We rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

United Nations, Web page for the 2010 review conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, accessed Dec. 14, 2009

The White House, " Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament UNSC Resolution 1887 ," Sept. 24, 2009

The White House, " Addressing the Nuclear Threat: Fulfilling the Promise of Prague at the L"Aquila Summit ," July 8, 2009

E-mail interview with Leonor Tomero, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Council for a Livable World, Dec. 12, 2009