By Jim Wurst
Global Security Newswire
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday said it was “a real disgrace”
that disarmament and nonproliferation are not addressed in the document produced by the General Assembly for the summit that
began this morning (see GSN, Sept. 13).
Speaking minutes after the General Assembly adopted the 35-page “outcome document,” Annan
yesterday told journalists, “The big item missing is nonproliferation and disarmament. This is a real disgrace. We have failed twice this year: we failed at the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty]
Conference, and we failed now.”
At least 170 heads of state are scheduled to attend the summit that began this morning. The summit,
making the 60th anniversary of the United Nations and the fifth anniversary of the Millennium Summit, was supposed to be the
launch of the most ambitious U.N. overhaul since its creation.
While governments and nongovernmental experts complained that much of the substance in the document
was weakened in the name of consensus, the section on “disarmament and nonproliferation” was the only key topic
to be entirely dropped from the paper.
“I hope the leaders will see this as a real signal for them to pick up the ashes and really show
leadership on this important issue when we are all concerned about weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that they
may even get into the wrong hands,” Annan said. “So I will appeal to the leaders who are coming here in the
next few days to really step up to the plate and accept the challenge and show leadership on this issue.”
U.N. delegates never solidly agreed to the disarmament and nonproliferation language during negotiations
on the summit document. The first version in early June called on states to “pursue and intensify negotiations
with a view to advancing general and complete disarmament and strengthening the international nonproliferation regime.”
It encouraged them to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty and the biological and chemical weapons conventions. The section listed a number of specific steps that nations
could take, including the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and negotiations over a fissile materials
cutoff treaty. The text also “appeal[ed] to the nuclear weapons states to make concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament
in accordance with Article VI of the NPT with the objective of eliminating all such weapons.”
Seven nations, led by Norway, submitted alternative language in August to this section that would have
sharpened nations’ commitments to disarmament and nonproliferation. The proposal never was substantively discussed
because newly arrived U.S. Ambassador John Bolton submitted to the negotiators an annotated version of the draft with hundreds
Many of those changes struck at the heart of the document, including his proposals for disarmament
and nonproliferation, by deleting the word “disarmament” from the section and proposing language that dealt exclusively
with the dangers posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
For example, the sentence saying, “We emphasize that progress in disarmament and nonproliferation
is essential to strengthening international peace and security” would have been replaced by “The proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that terrorists might acquire such weapons remain the greatest threats
to international peace and security.”
The Bolton text also deleted references to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a proposal that
the Additional Protocol to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreements be called “the standard for compliance,”
and suggestions for a program of work for the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
“The U.S. approach was very provocative. This is best illustrated by the deletion of reference
to the NPT’s ‘three pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy’ and
the substitution of a reference to the NPT’s ‘role in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons,’”
said John Burroughs of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. “This proposal went in the face of a broad
and deep international consensus that a viable nonproliferation regime requires progress on arms control/disarmament and a
recognition of the right to non-weapons uses of nuclear power.”
Once the U.S. proposals were tabled, according to delegates, other nations that had held back their
objections now felt free to introduce amendments that were unacceptable to other states.
“The U.S. led the way [in proposing amendments] and by leading the way they opened the door for
the other bullies to come in and take their swings at the text,” said Jennifer Nordstrom of the Women’s International
League for Peace and Freedom.
When the United States tried to make the section solely about nonproliferation, other nations, such
as India and Pakistan — which are not NPT parties — introduced language stressing disarmament and deleting references
to the treaty. After the proposals and counterproposals were tabled, “We could not get back the balance between
nonproliferation and disarmament” from earlier drafts, a European diplomat said yesterday.
Speaking about the negotiations in general, Bolton said yesterday the “line-by-line amendments”
were necessary because it was important to be “very frank with the other delegations on the amendments we wanted to
see. Indeed, I think other governments were waiting for the opportunity, and should have that opportunity, because this
is not a text dictated by nameless, faceless text writers.”
The last version of the disarmament section was circulated Friday. It said states affirmed that
“progress is urgently needed in the area of disarmament and nonproliferation,” that governments “support
efforts for the global elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and prevention of the proliferation of all such weapons
in all their aspects,” and affirmed “support for the multilateral treaties whose aim is to eliminate or prevent
the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.” However, by this time all references to specific
treaties had been deleted and there were no commitments on eliminating weapons of mass destruction.
The penultimate draft of the summit document on Monday simply had the heading “disarmament and
nonproliferation” without any text. By yesterday, even the heading was gone.
The only reference to nuclear weapons comes in the section on terrorism, in which the document calls
for the early entry into force of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. That
treaty, completed this spring, was opened for signatures this morning. Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President
George W. Bush were the first heads of state to sign.
Global Security Newswire