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What Future for the NPT?

24.03.2015

MOSCOW, MARCH 24, 2015. PIR PRESS. “The superficially calm atmosphere at the third PrepCom was deceptive. There is a major build-up of frustration ahead of the 2015 RevCon in various parts of the world, including the Middle East and the countries that are unhappy with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, as well as with the restoration of nuclear weapons’ role as the main guarantee of security in the twenty-first century. Also, during the previous RevCons the USA and Russia worked in tandem to produce persuasive counterarguments, channel that frustration, and make it manageable. In 2015, however, such a concerted effort will require a miracle of political acrobatics – and miracles are in very short supply at the moment,” – the PIR Center’s Director Vladimir Orlov.

The article entitled “What Future for the NPT?” by Dr. Vladimir Orlov, the PIR Center’s Director was published in the Global Edition of Security Index journal, No. 3-4 (108-109), Summer-Fall 2014 and is available at the Taylor&Francis Online website (in English).

As Dr. Orlov stresses in his analysis, “The expert community generally deems the 2000 and 2010 RevCons to have been successful, and the 2005 event is usually branded as an utter failure. Looking further back across the years, it is easy to see that a successful conference is usually followed by a failed once, and vice versa. This was usually a reflection of the fluctuations in the international climate, but an unsuccessful RevCon did not necessarily presage future dramas for the entire nuclear nonproliferation regime. In the end, these are just conferences, nothing more and nothing less. They are bureaucratic events, and delegates are sometimes prone to exaggerating the drama – if only to add some gravitas to the cables they send back home, and to justify their four-week absence from the office. That is why even if the upcoming Review Conference turns sour, it will not necessarily mean the collapse of the entire NPT edifice”.  

However, according to Dr. Orlov, the track record of the most recent stages of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s review process little illusions for an easy path towards its success at the NPT Review Conference of 2015: “The superficially calm atmosphere at the third PrepCom was deceptive. There is a major build-up of frustration ahead of the 2015 RevCon in various parts of the world, including the Middle East and the countries that are unhappy with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, as well as with the restoration of nuclear weapons’ role as the main guarantee of security in the twenty-first century. Also, during the previous RevCons the USA and Russia worked in tandem to produce persuasive counterarguments, channel that frustration, and make it manageable. In 2015, however, such a concerted effort will require a miracle of political acrobatics – and miracles are in very short supply at the moment.”

Summarizing these analytical observations, the author identifies the potential direction from which the ultimate challenges to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty might arise: “In the foreseeable future, fundamental problems capable of blowing up the NPT can only emerge if three of the treaty’s pillars – nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy – stop being perceived as equally important and substantial, and if more energetic attempts are made to make one of these pillars more equal than others”.

Developing his conclusion, Dr. Orlov in his article enumerates the major risks to the nuclear nonproliferation regime and its cornerstone – the NPT, – including “the failure of the efforts to form the necessary climate for eventually establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other WMD in the Middle East”; “inability to untangle the Iranian nuclear knot, reversals during the negotiations with Iran, and general frustration and disappointment, which could result in an act of aggression being committed against Iran”; “the failure of the negotiating process with North Korea”, etc. Another risk pointed out by the author is “self-destruction of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva because of its continued inability to launch negotiations on a convention banning the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes”.

An article by Director of the Program “Nuclear Nonproliferation and Russia” at PIR Center Andrey Baklitskiy “Towards the NPT Review Conference: Deceptive Ease of the Third PrepCom - No Harbinger of Miracle” (in English) was also published in the Security Index issue No. 3-4 (108-109) Summer-Fall 2014.

PIR Center conducts research dedicated to the development of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and the NPT review process in the framework of the Program “The Future of the NPT: Shaping Russia’s Position”. The PIR Center’s delegation will take party in the 2015 NPT Review Conference, which will be held from 27 April to 22 May 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York. Please follow the news at the PIR Center’s website. 

Additional information on publications, advertising and subscription to the Security Index journal  is available by phone at: +7 (495) 987-19-15 or by fax at +7 (495) 987-19-14. 

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