Lost Hopes: Where to Go after the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

The 9th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held from 27 April to 22 May 2015 at the UN Headquarters in New York, but it failed. The Czech Republic should engage in urging other countries to achieve progress in nuclear disarmament through a compromise approach known as “the building blocks”. In parallel, it should also actively support the process of emphasizing the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. Also, the Czech Republic’s good relations with Israel should focus on the support for holding a Middle East conference on the  creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, a project enjoying long-term EU support. It would also be desirable for the Czech Republic to continue with its strong support for the achievement of the NPT’s universality, the early entry of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force and the start of a  substantive debate about the main points at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) does not have the character of a disarmament treaty and misses an institutional framework, in comparison with other conventions banning chemical and biological weapons. The substance of the NPT is created by the so-called three pillars: the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament (Article VI). The mentioned article only illustrates the vague obligation of states parties, particularly nuclear powers, “…to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”. The formulation in Article VI does not contain any timeline or limit for achieving nuclear disarmament either, in contrast to the specific timeline and time limit in Article III, which deals with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Due to the absence of an institutional framework, the NPT has neither a secretariat nor its own organization, unlike the more complete ChemicalWeapons Convention, which bans chemical weapons. The NPT also does not enable the use of any specific enforcement in cases of breaches of commitments, except for the possibility of informing the UN Security Council about the breach. Although the NPT almost has a universal membership (191 states parties), there exists the serious fact that 45 years after its entry into force in 1970, there are still four nuclear-weapons states outside the NPT: India, Pakistan, Israel and, since April 2003, the DPRK as well. Israel, within its ambivalent policy, officially neither confirms nor denies its possession of nuclear weapons.

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