What to Expect from the 10th NPT Review Conference?
By: Ahmed Fathi
New York: The 10th Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will kick off its meetings on Monday with UN Secretary General António Guterres delivering a statement and the Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida will speak for the first time at the general debate. The conference has created anticipation about topics and possible outcomes. Following multiple rescheduling and topics have boosted expectations. The event originally intended for 2020 will be held in New York from August 1 to 26, 2022, in a substantially different and more challenging international situation than in 2015. Differences on nuclear disarmament, humanitarian ramifications, and a Middle East WMD-free zone prevented the 2015 NPT Review Conference from adopting a final document. After the final draft was rejected, many narratives were produced to explain the lack of consensus and identify the culprit. Egypt, which wrote the disputed clause removing the facilitator, pressured the co-sponsors (the US, the UK, and Russia) to have a conference before March 2016. The U.S., U.K., and Canada were chastised for supporting the interests of a non-signatory to the Treaty (Israel), because they rejected the final draft document because it referenced a weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Among the topics that will likely be discussed this year are The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), nuclear submarines, JCPOA, Korean Peace Process, Russia invasion of the Ukraine, energy crises, and nuclear weapons modernization initiatives.
The NPT 10th Review Conference may discuss NPT and TPNW. The TPNW entered into force in January 2021, and its 1st Meeting of States Parties held in June 2022. "Vienna Declaration" and "Vienna Action Plan." were produced. The first document reaffirms the parties' commitment to a nuclear-free future. The second plan has 50 points.
The aim of the conference was to make gradual disarmament progress by minimizing the risk of nuclear weapon use. Non-nuclear states (NNWS) believe risk reduction could delay disarmament. Some civil society specialists propose recognizing the TPNW's coming into effect and emphasizing the NPT's relevance to disarmament and nonproliferation in the final document of the conference. Despite this, risk reduction must be shown to aid nuclear disarmament.
Also, AUKUS. Australia, UK, US is abbreviated. These countries announced a trilateral Indo-Pacific security partnership on September 15, 2021. It grants Australia nuclear-powered submarines. Australia and Brazil would have the first non-nuclear submarines. The gathering should discuss nuclear safeguards and proliferation. Some say South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Pakistan could follow suit.
2015's JCPOA ended Iran's nuclear issue. China, France, Russia, UK, US Plus Germany, EU, and Iran wrote it. The pact aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In 2018, ex-President Donald Trump reimposed financial and oil sanctions. In retaliation, Iran resumed several nuclear activities dismantled by the JCPOA, such as expanding its low-enriched uranium stockpile and developing additional centrifuges. Biden and Yair Lapid signed the Jerusalem Declaration on July 16, 2022, blocking JCPOA reactivation. Each country will "use all national power" to stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.
On February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine, triggering worldwide chaos. Russia has put its deterrence forces on notice in case NATO intervenes directly, unleashing security-focused economic rearrangements and rising oil and gas prices. Even in Germany, where nuclear facilities are due to be shut down by 2022, the war's energy shortage has reevaluated nuclear energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Kharkiv's nuclear research center and Europe's largest nuclear power facility were damaged in the battle, prompting nuclear safety and humanitarian concerns.
Nuclear weapons modernization continues to siphon funds. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) says 72.6 billion dollars were spent on nuclear weapons during the covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Reaching Critical Will's 2022 report emphasized this nuclear investment. "continued investment by certain governments in the maintenance and 'modernization (upgrading, updating, and life-extending) of nuclear weapons is absurd, dangerous, and immoral." the study says.