Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Non-Proliferation Treaty Signatories Agree on 2010 Review Conference

Via Reuters -

Delegates meeting on the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty struck their first agreement on the anti-nuclear arms pact in a decade on Wednesday, which diplomats said was largely due to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Three days into a two-week meeting on the landmark arms control agreement, delegates from its 189 signatories agreed on an agenda for a major conference next year, where member states hope to adopt an action plan to overhaul the treaty.

"Amazing," Ambassador John Duncan, head of the British delegation, wrote on a website he updates regularly. "We just agreed the agenda for the 2010 review conference. It may seem boring but we haven't done so for a decade."

Other diplomats described the agreement as modest but significant, because member states have been unable even to agree on what they should talk about for 10 years. They said Obama's new tone was probably the decisive factor.

NPT signatories have tried for years to overcome sharp divisions, with developing countries complaining that the big nuclear powers have reneged on obligations to disarm while denying them access to nuclear technology.

The last NPT review conference in 2005 descended into procedural bickering and accomplished nothing. Washington tried to focus attention on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, while Iran condemned the failure to disarm and Egypt pointed to Israel's presumed nuclear weapons.

The agenda agreed on Wednesday includes a review of disarmament commitments made by the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia in 1995 and 2000. It also includes a discussion of "nuclear-weapons-free-zones" -- which diplomats said would mainly be about Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal.

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