NPT PrepCom 2003 – Canadian Interventions on Disarmament

Tasneem Jamal

Authors Ernie Regehr and Sarah Estabrooks

Second Prepcom for the 2005 NPT Review Conference

Reporting to NGOs on the Second Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference, April 28 – May 9, 2003.

Ernie Regehr and Sarah Estabrooks from Project Ploughshares attended the Second Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference as members of the official Canadian delegation.  Sarah was present as the NGO representative on the delegation and Ernie as Advisor to the delegation.  They have submitted the following report on Canadian interventions at the PrepCom:

“Nuclear Weapons are unimaginably lethal, irremediably indiscriminate and uniquely dangerous. The more nuclear weapons there are and the more States that possess them, the greater the threat of nuclear catastrophe, accidental or deliberate. The only safe and realistic course is to eliminate them.” Amb. Chris Westdal concluded Canada’s opening statement to the PrepCom with that reminder of why the NPT Treaty is foundational to global security. The Treaty ultimately requires the elimination of nuclear weapons, but in the meantime it also places strict obligations to reduce existing arsenals and to prevent their spread.

While the General statement and other Canadian interventions have covered the full range of issues facing the PrepCom, this brief report focuses on Canada’s attention to the Article VI disarmament provisions of the Treaty.

In affirming its central importance, Amb. Westdal also spoke of the stark challenges facing the Treaty: non-adherence by outsiders with nuclear ambitions (notably India, Israel, and Pakistan); non-compliance (principally Iraq, Iran and North Korea); threats of nuclear terrorism; erosion of commitment to several of the steps agreed to in 2000; changes in strategic doctrine that foreshadow the development of new nuclear weapons; the erosion of negative security assurances; and questioning by some states of the reliability of verification inspections. Nevertheless, he said, States Party to the Treaty “have repeatedly overcome conflicting priorities and unpromising international contexts” and encouraged delegates to address current challenges in the same spirit.

The statement said there “is no mystery about what needs to be done.” In further interventions Canada focussed on the importance of entry into force of the CTBT, urging States Party who have not ratified the CTBT, particularly those whose ratification is required for its entry into force, to report on their progress towards doing so. On FMCT Canada argued that “there is no legitimate reason why…these negotiations should not begin immediately.” Canada noted the essential role reliable verification plays in upholding the NPT regime, highlighting the role of the IAEA and International Monitoring System of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO. Verification tools were called ‘indispensable means for the international community to reinforce confidence in shared commitments and to address concerns about Treaty compliance.”

Canada acknowledged that the NPT regime is not perfect and that its goals have not yet been reached, but stressed that “this does not…`grant any state the license to acquire nuclear weapons. The discrimination inherent in the Treaty can only be supported over time through credible progress leading to the fulfilment of all aspects of its fundamental promises of disarmament, non-proliferation and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

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