Title: "NPT Results Show World's 'Fundamental Commitment to Treaty'." Conference president Jayantha Dhanapala says the decision by member states of the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) to permanently extend the accord demonstrates the world's commitment to this arms control measure. (950512)
Translated Title: Les resultats de la conference de revision du TNP.; Resultados TNP indican mundo con "compromiso fundamental al tratado." (950512)
Author: PORTH, JACQUELYN S (USIA STAFF WRITER)
NPT RESULTS SHOW WORLD'S "FUNDAMENTAL COMMITMENT TO TREATY" (NPT: Conference president assesses its work) (720) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Correspondent United Nations -- The month-long deliberations at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference demonstrated the international community's "fundamental commitment to the treaty and its objectives," says conference president Jayantha Dhanapala.
Briefing reporters near the conclusion of the conference May 12, Dhanapala said that, while many delegations had to adapt their countries' positions during the course of the parley, at no time did any delegation express a wish to either withdraw from or abandon the 1968 NPT regime.
And what emerged from the conference's May 11 consensus decisions -- decisions taken without votes -- on the three documents, he said, is "a strengthening of the treaty in all its aspects."
The international legal barrier to nuclear proliferation has been reinforced, he said. The delegates have reaffirmed their commitment "to achieve nuclear disarmament with the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons," he said, adding they have agreed to "reinforce arrangements for international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy."
He said that the 178 parties to the NPT are now legally bound by the conference decision to extend the treaty indefinitely, but the other two conference achievements -- a set of principles and objectives on non-proliferation, and measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime -- are merely "politically binding."
One of the important principles and objectives for disarmament agreed upon at the conference, Dhanapala said, was the specific language calling for the conclusion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) "no later than 1996." This objective and others, he said, will serve as "benchmarks" for the future.
If the deadline for the CTBT slips, he said, "states parties responsible for that will be called to answer" at the 1997 preparatory conference meeting for the next NPT review conference in 2000. He predicted that subsequent preparatory meetings and review conferences will be able to focus on issues of substance and have more time to devote to them than was available during the current five year review.
Time and attention were diverted from the review itself due to the requirement to extend the treaty permanently or for a fixed period or periods of time, he noted, and that will not happen during future NPT reviews.
Legal obligations of NPT parties to meet their commitments are "more clearly" spelled out in the new package of conference documents, which stress the ultimate goal of "the total elimination of nuclear weapons," he said. Parties must take this seriously, he warned, because "the international community will hold them responsible...either through the review mechanism...or through other international fora."
International public confidence in the NPT would be "gravely eroded," he suggested, "if there is no fulfillment of the undertakings in the treaty and the reaffirmation of what was undertaken" at this conference. Dhanapala said he could envision circumstances under which cumulative public disenchantment with "persistent and prolonged refusal to honor" treaty obligations by some nations could lead to pressures on other governments "to reconsider" their NPT commitments.
The president acknowledged that problems were encountered by one of the conference's three main committees. The committees on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear safeguards were able to issue reports, but the committee on nuclear disarmament and security was contentious until the end and could not offer a final report.
On the last day of the conference, Dhanapala was still pushing hard for resolution of remaining disputes and expressing his hope that they could be resolved before the final hours of the parley. Even if resolution could not be achieved on May 12, he said, he did not expect this to establish a precedent for future treaty reviews.
He was urging last-ditch efforts to achieve a final conference communique. But the absence of a final document, he said, should not necessarily be viewed as "a tarnishing of the attainment of the conference objectives."
Dhanapala expressed satisfaction with the fact that the conference was able to reach consensus. Coming into the conference, he said, "I thought it was important that we should not vote on the decision regarding the extension of the NPT, because it was important that there should be solidarity of the treaty parties on this decision."