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Who changed the U.S.'s Disarmament Resolution?

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on September 24, 2009

A few days ago the U.S.'s draft UN Security Council Resolution on nonproliferation and disarmament was changed. This resolution was negotiated with all 15 Security Council members, and maybe a few others, to have assurance it would pass today. Just slight changes were made, since the September 18th draft, along with one rather significant addition. The addition likely indicates future key topics for negotiation at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010.


A few words were changed from British to American English spellings (fulfill, programs and endeavor were all spelled with the British spellings). The phrases that these changes were made in were likely not written by the U.S. team. Most states at the Conference on Disarmament and at the United Nations use British spellings, so it could have been any Security Council member other than the United States. However, not only was British English used to write these sentences, but they call on the Nuclear Weapon States (NWSs), the five permanent Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States- to take action in some way, so they were likely written by non-nuclear weapon states (NNWSs). The spelling changes were made to these words in red within these phrases:

  • "Reaffirming…the need for all Member States to fulfill their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament"
  • "Welcoming the decisions of those non-nuclear-weapon States that have dismantled their nuclear weapons programs or renounced the possession of nuclear weapons"
  • "Calls upon the Parties to the NPT, pursuant to Article VI of the Treaty, to undertake to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear arms reduction and disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, and calls on all other States to join in this endeavor"

The new addition since the September 18th draft is this phrase, "recalling in this regard the outcomes of past NPT Review Conferences, including the 1995 and 2000 final documents." Sounds like non-aligned language if you ask me. In other words: recalling that NWSs agreed to the Middle East Resolution (to work towards bringing Israel into a nuclear weapon free zone) and the 13 steps to nuclear disarmament (steps towards implementation of Article VI). Whoever added this did not know that there was no final document to the 1995 Review Conference. Rather a package of 4 decisions was adopted, one of which is the extension of the NPT and another, the Middle East Resolution.

The Bush Administration refused to move on the Middle East Resolution and said they no longer supported the 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament. The Obama Administration (surely after tough negotiations) agreed to do something on these two items this week by including them in this resolution. Not yet clear how far they will go towards implementation in 2010.

Update- The US delegation also presented a fact sheet on disarmament to the Security Council today that starts, "we harbor no illusions about the difficulty of bringing about a world without nuclear weapons." US Nuc Disarm Fact Sheet UNSC


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