Obama To Resurrect NPT Regime?

by , June 06, 2009

Most Americans – except, of course, the neo-crazies – who concluded that Bush-Cheney had at least mortally wounded the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (and its associated nuke proliferation-prevention regime) may have been somewhat cheered by the commitments President Obama made in his recent "outreach" speech to the Islamic World.

"I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it."

However, very nearly everyone in the Islamic World, especially those who understood Obama to be essentially – perhaps inadvertently – committing the United States to comply with its NPT responsibilities, was cheered.

For the Bush-Cheney view about "complying with NPT responsibilities," scroll back to the 2005 NPT Review Conference and the address by US Representative Stephen Rademaker.

Bush-Cheney had successfully prevented the Final Report of the 2000 NPT RevCon from even being discussed at the 2005 RevCon, much less "affirmed."

Why?

Well, because, among other things, the 2000 RevCon Report had affirmed:

"An unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states parties are committed under Article VI."

Disarm?

"The importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications, without delay and without conditions and in accordance with constitutional processes, to achieve the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty."

Ratify the CTBT?

"The [2000] Conference reaffirms that IAEA is the competent authority responsible for verifying and assuring … compliance with its safeguards agreements … with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.… It is the conviction of the [2000] Conference that nothing should be done to undermine the authority of IAEA in this regard."

Don’t "undermine" the authority of the IAEA?

"The [2000] Conference notes the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states of their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995) on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons."

Give assurances to Iran and Syria that we won’t attack them with nuclear weapons?

Bush could never "comply" with any of those NPT "obligations."

What to do?

Well, first allege that the NPT – which depends exclusively on the International Atomic Energy Agency to "verify" that no amounts of NPT-proscribed materials had been "diverted to a military purpose" – had failed to even discover the "secret" nuclear-weapons programs that Bush-Cheney-Bolton falsely alleged North Korea, Libya, Iraq and Iraq all had.

Then, urge the 2005 NPT Conferees to sign-on – instead – to a really effective program, the Bush-Cheney-Bolton Proliferation Security Initiative.

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi focused on how to strengthen the "pillars" of the Treaty: (a) nonproliferation, (b) peaceful use of nuclear energy, and (c) disarmament.

Excerpts on nuke disarmament:

"Following the major efforts by states parties to strengthen the treaty, the 2000 NPT Review Conference welcomed enthusiastically ‘the unequivocal undertakings by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament, to which all States Parties are committed under Article VI.’

"Therefore, we propose that the Conference would establish an ad hoc committee to work on a draft legally binding instrument, on providing security assurances by the five nuclear-weapon states to non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the treaty, and to submit the draft of the legal instrument to the next review conference for its consideration and adoption."

Excerpts on the peaceful use of nuclear energy:

"Mr. President, the ‘inalienable right’ of the states to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes emanates from the universally accepted proposition that scientific and technological achievements are the common heritage of mankind.

"The promotion of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has been, therefore, one of the main pillars of the NPT and the main statutory objective of the IAEA.

"It is unacceptable that ‘some’ intend to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of ‘nonproliferation.’ This attitude is in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the treaty and destroys the fundamental balance which exists between the rights and obligations in the treaty.

"The treaty itself has clearly rejected this attempt in its Article IV by emphasizing that ‘nothing in the treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all parties to the treaty to develop, research, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.’"

What about the Bush-Cheney-Bolton Proliferation Security Initiative?

"Let me make it absolutely clear that arbitrary and self-serving criteria and thresholds regarding proliferation-proof and proliferation-prone technologies and countries can and will only undermine the treaty."

Now according to Obama-Biden Foreign Policy Agenda posted at the White House website, almost immediately after their inauguration,

"Obama and Biden will crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea and Iran that break the rules will automatically face strong international sanctions."

Of course, as far as a "non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty" – such as Iran has been since 1974 – there is really only one rule, namely

"Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." 

As of this writing, no one – including, especially, the on-the-ground IAEA inspectors – has found any evidence that Iran has failed to fulfill its NPT obligations.

Of course, the same cannot be said for the United States, especially during the Bush-Cheney-Bolton years.

So, what’s Obama’s next step if he intends to keep the commitments he’s made to the Islamic World?

Well, there is a NPT RevCon next year and the Agenda for it has already been agreed to. If it isn’t already on there, the first item ought to be to reaffirm the Final Report of the 2000 NPT RevCon.

Especially, the part where it says –

"The [2000] Conference notes the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states of their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995) on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons."

Read more by Gordon Prather