NPT Review Conference closes after unanimous adoption of Final Document

May 31, 2010

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer, dispatched from New York

On May 28, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which opened at United Nations Headquarters in New York on May 3, unanimously adopted a Final Document that resolves to realize "a world free of nuclear weapons" and mainly comprises an Action Plan of 64 items. The conference was then closed. The conference participants offered their agreement to the document presented by Libran Cabactulan, president of the conference, on May 27, avoiding a repetition of the failure that had marked the 2005 conference.

The Final Document consists of an Action Plan covering the three areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. With regard to the portions where provisions involving the operations of the treaty are reviewed, these are regarded as supplementary documents which include the opinions of the conference president.

In the area of nuclear disarmament, the Final Document reaffirms the "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states have agreed to report their efforts in nuclear disarmament at the 2014 NPT Preparatory Committee and consider their next steps at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. "Consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention" was included for the first time.

Meanwhile, with regard to the convening of an international conference to formulate a roadmap for nuclear abolition, which was included in the draft submitted by Main Committee 1 on May 14, this provision was watered down and eventually removed. Compromise with the nuclear weapon states can be seen in this development.

The "Resolution on the Middle East," an agreement from the 1995 conference, was considered the main focal point of the conference. To move forward with this resolution, the Final Document stipulates that a conference to discuss the denuclearization of the Middle East will be held in 2012.

The Final Document also calls for the conclusion, without delay, of an additional protocol for weapons inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a measure considered an integral element of the IAEA's safeguards system. The Final Document also expresses strong criticism of North Korea over the fact that the nation conducted two nuclear tests after announcing its withdrawal from the NPT.

After the Final Document was adopted, state delegates began offering observations on the outcome. Akio Suda, the permanent representative of Japan to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, stated: "Several thousand Japanese citizens, including a hundred A-bomb survivors, visited the United States and observed the conference. The results are far from satisfactory, but are nevertheless a great success compared to the outcome of the review conference in 2005. In the future, the sincere implementation of the items in the Final Document is needed."

(Originally published on May 30, 2010)

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