The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference wrapped up on Friday, May 28th with agreement on a set of “conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions” in support of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
NPT Review Conferences operate on the basis of consensus among the treaty’s 189 parties (currently every country in the world except India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea), which means that any single country can block agreement on any particular point. Not surprisingly, therefore, the “action plan” adopted by the conference fell far short of the kinds of steps that disarmament advocates would like to see.
By the standards of what it is possible to achieve at such conferences, however, the 2010 Review Conference can be considered to have been a qualified success.
The previous Review Conference, held in 2005, was unable to reach agreement on any subject, largely because of backpedaling by the Bush administration and other nuclear weapon states on earlier disarmament commitments. A second such failure would have called the future of the Non-Proliferation Treaty into serious question.
The 2010 Review Conference avoided that pitfall, and it was also able to make a number of minor advances in disarmament and non-proliferation commitments, most notably in the agreement made to convene a conference in 2012 on eliminating weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
That, in the world of diplomacy, can be seen as progress.
Neil MacFarquhar, “189 Nations Reaffirm Goal of Ban on Nuclear Weapons,” New York Times, 28 May 2010
Thalif Deen, “U.N. Nuke Meet Ends with Good Intentions and Empty Promises,” Inter Press Service, 29 May 2010
Ernie Regehr, “Towards action on the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone,” Disarming Conflict blog, 31 May 2010