May 23, 2015
UN disarmament talks collapse
NEW YORK – A four-week U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended Friday without adopting a consensus document after negotiators failed to narrow differences over a proposal to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.
The failure to produce an outline for actions for the next five years at the meeting, which took place in the 70th anniversary year of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, raised concerns that efforts to advance toward a world free of nuclear arms will lose momentum.
The conference president, Algerian diplomat Taous Feroukhi, admitted to a lack of consensus at a plenary meeting that was held after hours of delay. Citing “diverging expectations of state parties for a progressive outcome,” she said “it would be impossible for any single consensual document to possibly meet the highest aspirations of all parties.”
With the current meeting — held once every five years — not the first to close without adopting a final document, the conference’s effectiveness in promoting its agenda of disarmament, nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy may be thrown into question.
At the plenary meeting, the proposal for a Middle East zone that would involve Israel — an undeclared but acknowledged nuclear power — was raised by a number of speakers.
Rose Gotemoeller, the U.S. undersecretary for arms control and security policy, rejected a plan to hold a conference on establishing such a zone by March 1 next year that had been contained in the final draft for an outcome document, with the idea having been put forward by the Russians.
She called it “an arbitrary deadline” and blasted Egypt and other states, saying they were not willing to let go of this and other “unrealistic and unworkable conditions” in the text.
Britain and Canada also criticized the conference deadline language in the final text.
Egyptian Ambassador Hisham Badr slammed the United States, saying it had “blocked” an agreement on the nuclear-free zone. It is “a sad day” for the NPT, he said, pointing out how three countries had blocked the agreement. “By blocking consensus, we are depriving the world — but especially the Middle East — of even one chance of a better future,” he added.
Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian head of delegation, said it was a “shame that such an opportunity for dialogue had turned out to be missed, perhaps for a long time to come.”
In the closing days of the conference, some observers said nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” in the NPT framework were narrowing some differences over nuclear disarmament in working out a final document. But consensus was blocked over the issue of Israel, which is not party to the treaty but attended the review meeting as an observer for the first time in 20 years.
Along with many other participants at the plenary meeting, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama expressed disappointment about the lack of a final document, saying it is “extremely regrettable that this conference was not able to adopt a consensus, a substantive document, though we seemed to have come quite near to do so.”
Japan attempted to include an invitation for world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the document, but it was dropped in the face of opposition from China, which said Tokyo was trying to portray itself as a war victim.
Despite the failure to come up with an agreed-on document Sugiyama stressed that this did not change his country’s commitment to the credibility of the NPT regime. “It is not all lost,” he said, adding that Japan will host a series of meetings on disarmament issues in August in Hiroshima.
Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN, a nongovernmental organization, said the removal of references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki visits was regrettable. “The 70th anniversary is very important to highlight the suffering that happens if a nuclear bomb detonates, and it is not a power-politics issue or an attempt to rewrite history — we just want to make sure that the world knows what a nuclear bomb does when used,” she noted.
NPT review conferences have been held since 1975. The 2005 meeting also failed to produce a substantive consensus document. The treaty counts roughly 190 signatories.
May 24, 2015
NPT review conference’s failure to reach accord disappoints aging hibakusha
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki expressed disappointment over the failure of signatories at a world nuclear nonproliferation conference to reach a consensus on steps toward nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.
The 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded on May 22 without approval of a final document due to opposition from nuclear powers.
“It was regrettable that there was no progress in the movement on this 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings,” said Terumi Tanaka, 83, the chief secretariat of Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations).
The organization sent a delegation comprising 50 A-bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, and others to New York for the ninth review conference of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
During the four-week session, about 190 signatories comprehensively reviewed the implementation of the NPT.
Toshiyuki Mimaki, 73, deputy president of Nihon Hidankyo’s chapter in Hiroshima, who recently visited New York for this year’s review conference, said time is running out for hibakusha to see the world making progress toward the nonproliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons.
“We can live only so many years, and it is disappointing to think that we may not be able to see a nuclear-free world in our lifetime,” he said.
With 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II, the average age of the hibakusha reached 79.44 at the end of March last year.
As he spoke about his experience of the A-bombing to citizens from the United States and elsewhere, listeners seemed to realize the horrendous consequences of nuclear warfare.
So, it was devastating to see the United States and other nuclear powers oppose the adoption of the final document, Mimaki said.
“U.S. President Barack Obama even received a Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to abolishing nuclear weapons, so I can barely understand the U.S. opposition to the final document,” he said.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who asked world leaders to work toward the signing of a multilateral treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons at the conference, released a statement expressing regret over its unfruitful outcome.
Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, who called for world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to learn about the disastrous consequences of a nuclear bombing, also expressed disappointment.
“The conference’s outcome can undermine confidence in the current NPT framework,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haruko Moritaki, 76, a co-representative of the citizens group Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, said it was a positive sign that more than 100 countries supported a covenant proposed by Australia to regulate nuclear weapons during the NPT review conference.
“Citizens from around the world must gather together to ride this new tide,” she said.