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PrepCom Almost Falls Apart

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on May 14, 2009

Parties met last night, and all day today, to discuss the second draft of Recommendations to the 2010 Review Conference Chair. Parties were very excited to have adopted an agenda so quickly, and kept mentioning that they wanted to keep this positive momentum running. Parties hit a road block today trying to negotiate a 4-5 page paper which gives recommendations to the 2010 RevCon Chair. This is important, since, once agreed to, the language from such a consensus document will be used and relied on during the Review Conference in 2010.

The first draft included the mention of a nuclear weapon convention (NWC) and, to the dismay of several parties, a large focus on the NPT pillar of disarmament. The second draft does not include mention of a NWC, and many States said it was more balanced then the first, since it referred more equally to the three pillars (disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful use of technology).

PrepCom Chair Gives Up

The 3pm meeting today started with the Zimbabwean PrepCom Chair trying to give up on the draft recommendation paper. He said despite his best efforts there was a lack of consensus, and it was not the time to agree on such a document. “With your agreement I have made my best attempt… It is in my opinion that it is not worth it. I am grateful for what we have achieved for the agenda…I have given it my best shot and I am failing to get consensus,” said the PrepCom chair.

Countries chime in- don’t give up!

The Indonesian delegation said that it was like we were all bowling and the Chair had gotten 9 pins down, why not try for one more? This analogy made it into most the rest of the statements this afternoon as most States encouraged the Zimbabwean to keep trying for a consensus document.

“We think the text is helpful and you have met the concerns of several different parties…Agreeing to recommendations would make this PrepCom a major success…You are aware of all our positions, we request you keep trying,” said the European Union delegation.

“The revised text does not meet Japan’s expectations. None the less I support the revised text… I urge all state parties to preserve the current positive momentum and carrying it up to the next year,” said the Japanese delegate.

Russia said to the Chair, “you worked in close collaboration with the delegations, and we welcome this approach, and I would like to say that the document was a good document and a good basis to work for 2010. Now the document has the necessary balance between all the pillars of the NPT…We support your document. Mr. Chairman, I would like to repeat, we support your. I am not sure if you heard us Mr. Chairman (joking), we support your document, we think your document should be conveyed to the 2010 chair.”

The United Kingdom said that they too supported the draft, “I did not prepare any statement, but you have taken on a great challenge, and in our view in your latest version you have reflected quite well our views…I have to say that I am disappointed to hear that it is not possible to achieve consensus...From our perspective we have a different reading, I believe that we are very close to having an agreement. I think just changing the preamble would give us more consensus…we support your paper.”

The United States did not want to give up either. “We believe that the draft you put forth yesterday is an excellent draft… I would kindly ask that you give us all a bit more time. Even to convene a session this evening. I believe we can work out the small difference between some of the countries here. I do believe consensus is possible,” said the U.S. representative.

France Takes Sides with Iran and Cuba Against Consensus

France, which has been an interesting player these past two weeks is ready to give up, and said that they would prefer to stop trying to reach consensus on the draft. Iran and Cuba agreed. Iran voiced annoyance that “certain states” [which is likely reference to the United States] were able to draft entire new sections of the second draft. Iran said, that “the decision that was made to put all responsibilities on the chair was a mistake. Such important issues must be negotiated by all.” Cuba agreed, saying they would have accepted the first draft, “but the second draft has moved us away from agreement,” since through negotiations States “watered down recommendations on nuclear disarmament.”

Still Hope for PrepCom

Malaysia went back to the bowling analogy and ended their remarks with “we need to hit the last pin down, so if we need to bowl, let’s do that! We urge all parties to show flexibility.”

And so, the chair reluctantly said, “ok let’s sleep on it, and at 10am tomorrow we can meet. I can’t ignore the feelings by others that we need to continue, although, we have some issues that are very difficult to bridge. I am not going to hold small group meetings that are not transparent. But, let’s meet tomorrow.”

So there is still chance that there will be a consensus document tomorrow, but the Chair seemed to be telling us that within his private negotiations, states brought up unbridgeable objections. This may have something to do with France’s position, and surely something to do with a U.S.-Iranian disagreement.

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