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Key Updates from the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN
Ira Helfand, MD
May 6, 2010
Two issues with special relevance to PSR are emerging here at the NPT review in New York:
Austria, Switzerland, China and the 80 odd nations of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) have explicitly endorsed a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), and recommended that a call to initiate negotiations for a NWC be included in the final document of the Review Conference. The call reflects a widely held view among participants that nuclear disarmament is as important as non proliferation and can not be put off indefinitely as it has in the past.
Unfortunately the US and the other nuclear weapons states all appear to be opposing inclusion of a call for a NWC at this time, calling it a distraction from the short term concrete measures that the Review Conference needs to focus on for it to be a success.
What a mistake. The Obama administration should welcome a strong statement from the Review Conference calling on the nuclear weapons states to begin to negotiate a NWC. It is fully consistent with the President's call for a world free of nuclear weapons and there is no reason why negotiations on such a treaty can not proceed along with negotiations for some of the interim measures that are, in fact, steps towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons that a treaty will require.
The other issue that is quite striking from a PSR perspective is the widespread commitment to nuclear power expressed here. Access to "peaceful" nuclear technology has been cited repeatedly as a key requirement for states in the global South to realize sustainable development. This widespread, misplaced faith in nuclear power as the solution to our energy needs suggests that PSR needs to be even more energetic in our opposition to nuclear power, and we need to figure out ways to work with our sister organizations around the world to help people in the developing world understand that nuclear power is not answer.