The NPT PrepCom 2003

Presentation at the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2005 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at the United Nations, Geneva, 28April-9 May 2003 by Elahe Mohtasham

Programme to Promote Participation in the NPT Compliance:

1. Introduction:

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,

Since it has been impossible to stop the proliferation of scientific knowledge about nuclear science and technology, the underlying theme of all the discussions and agreements have been over the political decisions of the non-nuclear weapon states not to acquire nuclear weapons. The central theme of this presentation is that with the increasing proliferation of scientific and technological knowledge of nuclear power, there is a parallel need for an increased participation, involvement and knowledge of nuclear weapons non-proliferation issues by the general public and individual citizens who are also members of the wider international community. Such participation would particularly be crucial in the case of those countries, which do not benefit from an open political system to discuss nuclear weapons non-proliferation issues.

Although the underlying ideas presented in this presentation, for example, the broadening of citizen's education and their involvement in monitoring and inspection of nuclear activities, in non-nuclear weapons states, have been mentioned in a number of other previous academic and research papers, for at least the last two decades, detailed practical steps have not been formulated on how to articulate these general ideas into specific policies for implementation, especially as part of compliance with the NPT at is Preparatory Committees or Review Conferences. In the context of the nuclear weapon states, there are a number of non-governmental organisations which have been promoting ideas of citizen's inspections for at least since the early 1990s. However, similar non-governmental organisations do not exist in many of the non-nuclear weapon states, especially in the Middle East region. The aim of this presentation is to identify a number of points to facilitate the development of such a process.

This presentation is particularly concerned with the challenge of promoting participation in nuclear nonproliferation discussions and decision-making processes, amongst the people of countries, such as Iran, Iraq, the states surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, and more generally the people of those countries whose governments have not yet allocated any special programme aimed at broadening their knowledge and involvement in these areas. The 1995 Resolution in the Middle East recognised the importance of that region in furthering the goals of global non-proliferation and disarmament. The next logical step to implement the goals of that resolution would be to increase the participation of people of that region.

As part of the programme aimed at promoting wider participation, it would be crucial to promote the wider participation of the Middle Eastern intellectuals who live and work in the western countries, or other parts of the world, on permanent or short term bases, in discussions and research work on nuclear non-proliferation issues. One consequence of globalisation has been the elimination of traditional borders. It is no longer unusual to meet people with two or three nationalities. The Middle Eastern intellectuals living outside the region, benefit from the familiarity and knowledge of their original societies as well as their adopted countries. They could play invaluable role in promoting nuclear non-proliferation policies for the benefit of the international community as a whole. Special attention should be given to ensure that the Middle Eastern intellectuals living abroad are granted full and equal access to research in nuclear non-proliferation issues.

In this presentation, the establishment of a number of specific steps or programme both in the non-nuclear weapon states and in the nuclear weapon states involving progress reports to the Preparatory Committees and Review Conferences of the NPT is proposed. In this presentation, these proposals have been put forward in form of a set of questions to the States Parties.

The idea of reporting to the NPT Preparatory Committees and Review Conferences is, of course, an already established norm. At the 2000 NPT Conference, three types of 'regular reporting' were initiated and put into practice. First, the idea of regular reports by the nuclear weapon states was initiated within the context of implementing Article VI, and the 13 steps towards disarmament. Second, regular reporting was agreed to be submitted by all the state parties, through the UN Secretariat, in the form of background papers, to the Preparatory Committees and Review Conferences, and part of the measures to achieve the goals and objectives of the 1995 Resolution in the Middle East. Third, it was agreed that the President of the 2000 NPT Conference was to collate the views and responses of non-state parties to the Conference on the subject of universal adherence to the NPT, and submit the report to the Preparation Committees and the 2005 Conference. The crucial role of these reports was specifically stressed at the 2002 NPT Preparation Committee, in the Chairman Salander's factual summary of 18 April 2002 stating, "such reporting would promote increased confidence in the overall NPT regime through transparency."

2. Programme to Promote Participation in Non-Nuclear Weapon States:

A programme to increase discussion and participation on nuclear weapons non-proliferation amongst the people of non-nuclear weapon states, especially in the context of the Middle East would strengthen the commitment of these countries to nuclear weapons non-proliferation and articles of the NPT, especially if an educated public supports these ideas from below. An unpublished, basic and preliminary programme to promote thought and discussion amongst a number of key people (such as scientists, academics, military officials, etc.) from the countries in the Middle East has been in place for at least ten years. However, there has not yet been any openly discussed, systematic and published programme to put these basic efforts into wider, published and publicised policies, either within the Middle East or in the countries outside the region.

Any effort to promote knowledge of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation issues in the Middle East would need to involve a strategy to include Israel. There is no reason to assume that those sections of the Israeli society who would be interested to obtain long lasting peace and security in the region would not wish to participate in such a programme. In the context of the NPT, Israel may wish to make its voluntary contributions answering questions submitted to them, and provide progress reports (like the other member states of the NPT) to the NPT Preparatory Committees and Review Conferences. At a later stage, with the other political changes in the region, and witnessing the benefits of this specific programme, Israel may also decide to join the NPT.

Any measure to promote discussion and participation amongst the people, especially in the context of the Middle East, would have to include the invaluable role and contribution of the Middle Eastern intellectuals who live and work in the countries outside the region. In view of the prevailing global tensions, it is particularly important that the Middle Eastern intellectuals carrying out their research in various parts of the world, should be able to obtain grants on equal opportunity basis, to study and work in the areas related to arms control and nuclear non-proliferation issues. The member states, especially the nuclear weapon states, would play a crucial role in the discussions and programmes to promote participation and involvement of the Middle Eastern intellectuals who live and work outside the region in arms control and nuclear non-proliferation issues.

In order to encourage thought and discussion on these subjects, the following questions are posed to both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.

i. How would they promote nuclear non-proliferation issues in their own countries? And how much funding would they be willing to allocate for such a programme?

ii. In order to encourage transparency, openness, and wider participation would these countries (especially the ones in the Middle East), open their nuclear research and power production facilities to the public inside their own countries and international non-governmental institutions from outside?

iii. Would these countries make use of the expertise available from other countries, such as international non-governmental organisations to promote wider participation?

iv. In the case of Iran, would they be organising visits to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and other nuclear research facilities for the benefit of the people from within the country, and international non-governmental organisations from outside the country?

v. Also in the case of Iran, I would like to pose a further question in relation to the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Iran signed in September 1996. In order to encourage other member states to do the same, would Iran be ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as soon as possible?

3. Conclusion

For the first time in the evolution of the NPT Review Conferences and Preparatory Committees, and in contrast to the 1975, 1980, 1985 and 1990 Review Conferences, both the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences adopted through consensus, a set of 'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament', and more specifically, the Resolution on the Middle East and 13 Steps disarmament programmes, to actively implement the provisions of the NPT. It appears that the members states of the international community would be prepared to accept technological as well as socio-political measures, specific steps and programmes to enhance the provisions of the NPT, and through that their own and international security. The issues discussed in this presentation would also come under the same programmes and attempts to strengthen compliance under the NPT.

Elahe Mohtasham, 30 April 2003

© 2003 Elahe Mohtasham

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