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Hope for nuclear disarmament

Greenpeace and RV are among those who have criticized the award for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. No to Nuclear Weapons points out that it is impossible today to amend the Non-Proliferation Agreement.


The award of the Nobel Peace Prize both to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to its Director General Mohamed ElBaradei came at a very important time:

The supervisory conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May ended in a complete collapse. The situation was not improved by the lack of results for non-proliferation and disarmament at the UN summit in September. At the permanent Disarmament Conference in Geneva, for nine years in a row, attempts have been made in vain to agree on what to negotiate or talk about.

As stated in the justification given by the chairman of the Nobel Committee, the prize was awarded for the work done to prevent legitimate access to nuclear technology being used for military purposes. The availability of this technology and at the same time the control that it will not be abused for the procurement of nuclear weapons, ie the further proliferation of nuclear weapons, constitute two of the three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Agreement.

The award ceremony has been criticized by some quarters because the IAEA participates in the proliferation of nuclear power and thus can indirectly contribute to proliferation. However, as mentioned, the IAEA's role in this context is one of the three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If you want to change this, you must also change this agreement. That is an impossibility today.

Therefore, the Nobel Committee is careful in its statement by emphasizing that it is also about nuclear disarmament, which is the third pillar of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Spreading a concern

There was no great optimism when the 7th Supervisory Conference on the Non-Proliferation Process opened in May. The United States had already made clear at the preparatory conferences that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was now about only two things: the non-nuclear powers' obligation not to acquire nuclear weapons, against access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The third pillar of the agreement had disappeared from the vocabulary.

In addition, the United States had publicly rejected the specification of the Non-Proliferation Agreement's obligations, which was agreed upon at the previous supervisory conferences in 1995 and 2000. In short, it could be said that it was a Probation Agreement, a verifiable agreement that prohibits the production of fissionable weapons for weapons purposes, various steps on the way to nuclear weapons elimination, and legally binding guarantees that prohibit the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers.

After North Korea and Iran, the key word has become non-nuclear compliance with the agreement. Of course, this is essential. All states are concerned about further proliferation. That is precisely what the Nobel Committee is saying with its awards ceremony. But indirectly it also says what the nuclear powers deny. Namely, that their disputes on their own nuclear weapons and nuclear strategies legitimize proliferation and that they must therefore be eliminated.

The Audit Conference spent the first three weeks agreeing on what to negotiate. The United States opposed any reference to the commitments the nuclear powers accepted in 1995 and 2000. Egypt must have been hard at it, as well as referring to a resolution on the Middle East (where Israel's nuclear weapons are the problem) and which was essential to the lasting extension of the agreement in 1995. But without success. The United States is said to have been less constructive because they had invested few resources and were poorly prepared.

The United States took time out

In addition, the nuclear powers themselves could not agree on a joint statement, allegedly because the United States opposed any reference to the Probation Agreement, which the country refuses to recognize. In all this, Iran escaped, and likewise, North Korea avoided being punished after going out of the agreement and declaring that they had nuclear weapons.

At the Disarmament Conference in Geneva (where Norway is one of 66 member countries), it is now five years since Brazil presented a proposal on how the conference should relate to the four areas that were then in focus, and still is. Nuclear disarmament, fissile material for weapons purposes, security guarantees and weaponry in space. Brazil suggested that agreements on fissile material and security guarantees should be negotiated, but that nuclear disarmament and arms race in space should only be subject to exchange of views. With the exception that one should include the opportunity to once negotiate a treaty for space.

Based on the discussions brought about by Brazil's proposal, the ambassadors from five countries presented a new proposal in the summer of 2002. A revised version was presented in June 2003. The proposal was named A-5, by the countries of Algeria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia and Sweden. . The main issue was now Russia's and China's demand that a deal be put in place to prevent arms disarmament in space (PAROS). Only discussions were not enough, in their opinion. It consistently opposed the United States. When China and Russia unexpectedly accepted the revised text of the A-5 proposal that called for direct negotiations on PAROS, the United States had to take time out.

A year later, on July 29, 2004, the feedback came: It was not about PAROS, but about fissile material. The United States could no longer, unlike before, accept negotiations for an agreement on the ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes that is also verifiable. Thus, one was just as far.

Kofi Annan's shame

In another attempt to move forward, the Netherlands presented an unofficial compromise proposal in early 2005. An agreement on security guarantees was no longer to be negotiated, and negotiations on fissile material were to take place "without preconditions". In other words, no requirement for a verifiable agreement.

Which countries prevent the agreement on a work program in CD? It is difficult to find out. But when Nigeria's presidency (held in alphabetical order for about a four-week period) made its summation, the country's ambassador came with an indication. He said that of the three groupings of states operating, the Eastern group, the West group and the Alliance-free group (China is a separate group), all but the West group had supported the A-5 proposal. He added that around 60 of 65 countries supported the proposal. There are hardly 5 countries in the Western group that do not, and so perhaps one is left with the three western nuclear acts? In one of their posts, Germany talked about a very small number of countries. How many people support the alternative proposal from the Netherlands is unknown.

In the final document from the UN summit in September, the section on non-proliferation and disarmament was removed. Kofi Annan called it a shame. Norway had been asked by the UN Secretariat to lead the work with input to the text in this section. Together, the other six countries were selected. The input was a minimum. But as there was strong support for ratification of the Trial Agreement, it was feared that the United States would create difficulties. However, the United States went even further and did not want to hear about nuclear disarmament. The US attitude must have been very provocative. Illustrative of this is that the country also wanted to delete the reference to the non-proliferation agreement's 3 pillars, which was the introduction to the 7-country proposal. After this "preparation" from the USA, other states are said to have entered the arena with their objections – and thus it was done.

Just over a week after the UN summit in September, there was a conference on the Trial Agreement in Vienna. The so-called Entry into Force Conference (EIF) which takes place every two years. So far, 176 states have signed this agreement, while 125 have ratified. But the agreement cannot take effect until 44 designated countries have ratified it, and 8 countries' ratifications are still missing. These include the US and China, India, Israel and Pakistan.

New give after the price

In addition to working for an increasing number of states to join the Probate Agreement, the secretariat of the agreement is constantly working to complete the verification process needed to make it work in a credible way when it hopefully comes into force. A probation agreement was one of the preconditions since the Non-Proliferation Agreement was permanently extended in 1995, and President Clinton was the first to sign the agreement the following year. But Republicans voted down the Senate deal, and then Bush came. But if the US turns, it is not thus said that, for example, India will follow the example. In addition, the sad fact is that the agreement's foreword states that it will restrict (new states) the development of nuclear weapons. It does not prohibit the modern nuclear powers' modernization of their arsenals, which they are in full swing.

Thus, they also retain their nuclear strategies. At the NATO defense ministers' meeting in June, they did not deviate an inch from the current strategic concept, which emphasizes the importance of nuclear weapons for the alliance. And in October 2003, Putin stated that the nuclear forces "form the main basis of Russia's national security", both now and in the future. China has the smallest and most outdated nuclear arsenal of the five declared nuclear powers, but is thus in the process of modernizing it. China constantly states that it does not want to use nuclear weapons first, and that they are only for self-defense. At the same time as China almost emphasizes its innocence, good arguments are provided for possible disseminators such as Iran.

The UN General Assembly and its 1st Committee are an important arena for debates and resolutions on nuclear disarmament. At the moment of writing, it has barely started. It will be exciting to see if this year's session can bring new dynamics into the process. Perhaps the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the IAEA and its Director General may seem like an injection.

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