Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology

May 3, 2013
   From April 22 to May 3, 2013, the second session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was held at the United Nations Office at Geneva. Ambassador Cornel Feruţă, Director General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, served as Chair. H.E. Mr. Mari Amano, Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament (head of delegation), Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department and others attended on behalf of Japan.
1. Context of the second PrepCom

(1) In the context of the process leading to the next Review Conference in 2015, the session was expected to serve to deepen substantive discussions on agenda topics agreed to at the first session of the PrepCom and prepare the way for the third PrepCom session next year, which is to agree on recommendations for the Review Conference.

(2) There was speculation that a negative impact on the review process might result from the response of Middle East states discontented that the convening of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction decided upon at the 2010 Review Conference had not taken place as planned in 2012.

(3) This PrepCom was the second of its kind since the establishment of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a cross-regional grouping of 10 non-nuclear-weapon states launched by Japan and Australia. It was expected to present good opportunities for the NPDI to raise its profile by submitting working papers and meeting with other groups, and to win broad understanding of, and support for, its activities.
2. Results

(1) Following general debate during which each State party described its overall policies and after NGO presentations, States parties took part in discussions of substantive issues (nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states from nuclear-weapon states, nuclear non-proliferation, a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, North Korea and other regional issues, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, enhancement of the effectiveness of the strengthened review process).

(2) On the final day, the Chair took it upon himself to distribute the Chairman’s factual summary, which outlines the content of the discussions held, and closed the session.

(3) It was decided that the third session of the PrepCom would be chaired by Ambassador Enrique Román-Morey, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations, and held in New York from April 28 to May 9, 2014, while the 2015 Review Conference would be held in New York from April 27 to May 22, 2015.
3. Japan’s role

(1) Japan delivered statements during the general debate and on specific issues (nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, nuclear non-proliferation, a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, regional issues, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, improvement of the review process). It also delivered a joint statement on disarmament and non-proliferation education on behalf of 32 State parties.

(2) Japan and other NPDI member countries jointly submitted to the PrepCom session six new working papers (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Reduced Role of Nuclear Weapons, Export Controls, Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones, Wider Application of Safeguards in the Nuclear-Weapon States) and an update of last year’s working paper on disarmament and non-proliferation education for a total of seven working papers. In addition, of the meetings the NPDI held with other groups, Japan led meetings with the five nuclear-weapon states and representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement, bringing about a meaningful exchange of opinions.
(3) The Japanese delegation briefed Japanese media about the PrepCom before, during and after the second session, including at an advance briefing by the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, during a media stakeout for Ambassador Amano following South Africa’s delivery of a joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (see 4. (3) below) and at a briefing after the conclusion of the session. In addition, Japan tweeted about its activities during the session, working proactively to publicize them (public disarmament and non-proliferation account: DisarmamentJAPAN@global_forum).
4. Notable points about the PrepCom second session

(1) Overall, proceedings on the three NPT pillars of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and peaceful use of nuclear energy advanced smoothly. On the first day of the second week, toward the end of of discussions on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, Egypt requested to take the floor as the last speaker of the day and made clear its dissatisfaction that a conference had yet to be convened, stating that it would withdraw from the remainder of the second session of the PrepCom. 

(2) A number of State parties expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues as a threat to international peace and stability, strongly condemned the missile launch and the nuclear test in February of this year by North Korea as violations of Security Council resolutions, and urged North Korea to comply with Security Council resolutions and the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, including by abandoning its nuclear program. These statements were broadly reflected in the Chair’s summary.

(3) At the time of its delivery, the statement made by South Africa on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons had been endorsed by 74 State parties, making clear the high level of interest in its subject. Japan, taking into account its security environment, engaged in consultaions on amending expressions in the statement up until the last minute, but a mutually agreeable resolution was not reached and Japan decided to forgo joining the statement. However, in its statement on nuclear disarmament, Japan made reference to 1) the fact that, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings during wartime, it knows better than any other the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons, 2) its support for the fundamental message of the South Africa statement, including the point that the use of nuclear weapons brings about not only damage in the immediate aftermath, but unbearable socioeconomic and cross-generational losses, and 3) its intent to carefully consider the possibility of taking part in a statement of the same theme in the future.

(4) Through its working papers, the NPDI is eagerly engaging in new areas such as a “Reduced Role for Nuclear Weapons,” “Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons,” and “Wider Application of Safeguards in the Nuclear-Weapon States” and raising the profile of its activities. In addition, it has steadily strengthened its presence in the NPT review process by, among other things, engaging in dialogue and meetings with other groups, conducting briefings for NGOs, and organizing a side event. The main points of the NPDI working papers were reflected in the Chair’s factual summary. There were also working papers supported by states outside the NPDI membership.

Back to Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology