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Nuclear Non-Proliferaton Treaty (NPT) Facing a Tough Road Ahead
February 18, 2005
Contact: Zachary Allen, Tel: 415-397-6760, zack@gsinstitute.org

SAN FRANCISCO-Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter recently hosted a consultation of diplomats and government officials at The Carter Center. The Consultation sought to preserve and strengthen the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which President Carter said "was deeply wounded and whose very life is threatened." He called the policy of the nuclear weapons states "irrational" and gave eight "corrective actions" to save it.

Entitled "Atlanta Consultation II: On the Future of the NPT," the consultation was organized by the Middle Powers Initiative, a program of the Global Security Institute, in cooperation with The Carter Center, January 26-28, 2005.

The Final Report and transcripts of President Carter's remarks are now available at http://www.middlepowers.org

"Our common goal is simply stated: to exert leverage on the nuclear powers to take minimum steps to save the non-proliferation treaty in 2005" said President Carter to the group of seventy-five diplomats, disarmament experts and observers from around the world. "The five historic nuclear powers [the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China] and Pakistan, India and Israel, refuse to initiate or respect restraints on themselves while.raising heresy charges against those who want to join the sect. This is indeed an irrational approach."

President Carter distinguished the current U.S. administration from previous U.S. governments both Democratic and Republican. "All of us American Presidents, from Eisenhower to George Bush Sr., were avidly seeking to restrict and reduce nuclear arsenals-some more than others. So far as I know, there are no sincere efforts underway by any of the nuclear powers to accomplish these crucial goals."

The NPT is essential to global security. Every country in the world, other than Pakistan, India and Israel (and now North Korea), are members. It establishes a legal and moral norm to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. For example, Iraq's nuclear program was properly terminated in the early 1990s based on this legal norm. The NPT is based on a core bargain under which all the non-nuclear-armed countries have agreed they would not acquire nuclear weapons. In exchange, the five nuclear-armed countries (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) have agreed to take good-faith disarmament steps, with the eventual goal of the complete, worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty has been remarkably successful on the first part of the bargain, but not so successful on the second.

The Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995 based on a reaffirmation of the core bargain. Every five years, the NPT undergoes a formal review at the United Nations, during which important decisions are made about the Treaty's future. The next Review Conference will take place May 2-27, 2005. In the months prior to each Review Conference, countries form negotiating positions. Many countries currently assert that the nuclear weapon states are failing to make adequate progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

President Carter praised the Middle Powers Initiative and the New Agenda Coalition-a group of seven governments including Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden-for providing an urgently required bridge across the "deep divisions between the nuclear powers who seek to stop proliferation without meeting their own disarmament commitments, and the Non-Aligned Movement whose demands include firm disarmament commitments and consideration of the Israeli nuclear arsenal."

Hon. Marian Hobbs, New Zealand Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, noted that all eyes should be on the 2005 NPT Review Conference, but if the nuclear weapon States failed to deliver, alternative action would have to be taken to prevent a descent into nuclear anarchy. She noted that the division between advocates of disarmament and advocates of non-proliferation "could be bridged, and progress made on both non-proliferation and disarmament fronts, by adopting an abolition framework, i.e. through advancing norms which further de-legitimize nuclear weapons regardless of who may possess or aspire to possess them, and further developing the mechanisms which prevent their acquisition and provide for their systematic and verified elimination."

Dr. Jane Goodall, D.B.E. the world-renowned primatologist, noted that humans, somewhat like other primates, had the capacity for both peaceful co-existence and violence, but that humans had the intelligence to create the conditions where needs were met and security achieved without recourse to mass murder including the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The consultation provided an opportunity for diplomats from a range of countries including NATO States, members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and other non-nuclear weapon States, to informally discuss proposals made by the New Agenda Coalition, other non-nuclear Weapon States, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others to strengthen the NPT and generate momentum for the nuclear weapon States to implement their disarmament obligations. The discussions were guided by a working paper drafted by Dr. John Burroughs from the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, and presentations by a number of experts including Dr. Bruce Blair of the Center for Defense Information (on de-alerting), Mr. Alyn Ware of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (on nuclear terrorism), Mr. Nobuyasu Abe, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs (on non-proliferation initiatives), Ms. Rose Gottemoeller of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (on space weaponization), Dr. Frank von Hippel of Princeton University, (on fissile materials) and Mr. Werner Bauwens of the Belgian Foreign Ministry (on verification).

The final report from the Consultation will receive wide distribution to government officials around the world.

For more information including the Final Report, the report's Executive Summary and Recommendations, as well as transcripts of speaker presentations, please visit http://www.middlepowers.org

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