Title: "NPT Delegates Soundly Endorse Indefinite Extension of Treaty." Delegates to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference adopted a proposal by consensus that
allowed the treaty to be extended indefinitely without a formal vote. (950511)
Translated Title: Les delegues decident de proroger indefiniment le TNP.; Delegados TNP apoyan firmemente prorroga indefinida del tratado. (950511)
Author: PORTH, JACQUELYN S (USIA STAFF WRITER)
NPT DELEGATES SOUNDLY ENDORSE INDEFINITE EXTENSION OF TREATY (NPT: Also agree to strengthen treaty review process) (890) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Correspondent United Nations -- Delegates to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference May 11 adopted a proposal by consensus without a vote to extend the 25-year-old accord indefinitely, granting it the permanency which other arms control regimes have had since their inception.
Delegates from 175 of the 178 parties to the treaty participated in the deliberations, although North Korea did not participate in the final decision. They adopted without a vote three documents on treaty obligations: one to extend the treaty indefinitely, another delineating seven points on strengthening the NPT review process, and a third outlining 20 principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
Conference participants also approved a resolution drafted by Russia, Britain and the United States which endorses the Middle East peace process objectives and "recognizes that efforts in this regard as well as other efforts, contribute to, inter alia, a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction." This was offered as an alternative to a document submitted by Egypt -- with 13 Arab co-sponsors -- urging Israel to accede to the NPT and calling for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East.
The measures approved by the conference not only reaffirm the validity and authority of the 1968 treaty but also reflect the continuing commitment by an overwhelming majority of the world to the non-proliferation regime.
Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Sha Zhukang predicted that the "positive results" of the conference will have "an important and far-reaching bearing on the future." The unanimous decision on indefinite extension, he said, "reaffirms the objective of nuclear disarmament of the treaty and should in no way be interpreted as perpetuating the nuclear weapons states' prerogative to possess nuclear weapons." Instead, they should fulfill those disarmament obligations "in good faith," he said.
Making the treaty permanent, the Chinese official said, "marks a new beginning: it is a call for redoubled efforts to realize the objectives of the NPT, in all of its aspects, with the goal of the complete prohibition and the entire destruction of nuclear weapons."
Political support for the treaty has been strengthened as a result of the close examination and review it has undergone since debate on the treaty's future began April 17 at the United Nations.
As a consequence, prospects for making the NPT universal are believed to be greatly enhanced.
Ambassador Gerard Errera, a French delegate who spoke on behalf of the European Union as well as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, said the decision on extending the NPT marks a time for rejoicing because "a growing solidarity" for the NPT emerged during the month-long discussions on the treaty's future.
"The scale of the participation (in the conference) and the impressive number of countries which chose to invest the treaty with the permanence which it used to lack, our common will to expand even more what might have been nearly a simple majority, bear witness to the strength of our commitment to this asset, which we share in common, namely the NPT," he said. "It is not just the permanence of the treaty that we have secured," he stressed, but "the international standard of non-proliferation."
Even countries which perhaps disagreed on the voting procedures used at the conference or on the outcome of the extension decision still endorsed their commitments to the treaty and the obligations which are inherently part of treaty membership.
Many delegates went on record to praise the strengthened review process which was made a permanent part of the NPT process. Besides the traditional review of the treaty every five years, newly endorsed language calls for an annual meeting in each of the three years prior to the review conference, beginning in 1997.
Canadian Ambassador Christopher Westdal said the conference decisions "exceeded expectations" and gave the world "some very good news." The extension decision gave the treaty, he said, "norms and obligations" with "a powerful new dimension."
The treaty's permanence, the official said, enshrines new and "permanent values" and the strengthened review process will lead "to the hard work of implementation."
He also cited other positive accomplishments reflected in the decisions made at the NPT conference, including "a program of action" aimed at eventually achieving the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, a commitment to achieve a comprehensive test ban by 1996, as well as commitments to work toward a fissile materials production cut-off, stronger nuclear safeguards, more transparency and nuclear export controls, and wider peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
South African delegate Khiphusizi Jele expressed the hope that all parties to the treaty, especially the nuclear-weapons states, will dedicate themselves "to the central task" of ridding the world of "the threat of mass destruction." The NPT is the only international instrument on nuclear disarmament, he stressed, "to which all five nuclear weapons states are bound." The pressure is now on individual governments to fulfill their obligations and what they do will determine "whether we enter the next century with a real prospect for creating a world free of nuclear weapons." Those governments, he added, "must not fail us."