Two Conflicting Trends Threaten NPT Review Conference Success

CNSApril 27, 2015– Tensions are high as the world’s governments gather today for the five-year review conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The list of issues the four-week meeting will address is long, but the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and issues relating to proliferation and disarmament in the Middle East top the agenda.

The non-nuclear weapon states are vocally unhappy with the lackluster implementation of the disarmament part of the 2010 Action Plan and the continued modernization of nuclear arsenals by some nuclear weapon states. Others–particularly Arab states–remain gravely disappointed that the 2010 commitment to convene a conference on creating a weapon-of-mass-destruction-free-zone in the Middle East failed to materialize.

“Going into the 2015 Review Conference, there seem to be two conflicting trends,” says Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, director of International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). “One is pessimism about disarmament prospects in the near future due to deteriorating Russia-West relations and the stalemate in the US-Russian arms control dialogue. Another trend is the growing sense of urgency and calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons generated in large part by the conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.”

“At the very least, states should reaffirm the decisions of the 2010 Review Conference and extend the facilitator’s mandate to convene a conference on the establishment of a Middle East WMD-free zone,” says Chen Kane, senior research associate at CNS. “What was achieved so far through informal multilateral consultations on the conference should not be lost, and parties should not set the process back to square one.”

CNS experts will be on the ground at the review conference and will be available for comment.

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