The 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will occur 2-27 May
2005 at the United Nations in New York and it may be the last.
Under the NPT, the International Atomic Energy Agency is the designated "inspectorate"
for verifying compliance by nation-states with their safeguards and additional
protocol agreements with the Agency.
It is surely an understatement for Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to say
the system "clearly needs reinforcement."
Part of the current problem with the system is Bill Clinton's fault.
It appears to have been a Clinton-Gore administration article of faith that
the 21st Century would see the end of the nation-state. Believing that, Clinton-Gore
proceeded to hand over to the United Nations – the presumptive world government
for the 21st Century – every semi-international problem that arose, including
gun control, women's reproductive rights and nuke disarmament.
Now, it's true that upon the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Soviet officials
actually came to our Congress and asked for our help in getting rid of thousands
of excess nukes.
In the so-called Nunn-Lugar Act, Congress authorized Bush the Elder to provide
such financial and technical assistance to the Russian nation-state as they
would accept to prevent the proliferation of excess nukes, nuke materials,
technologies and technologists.
But, it needs to be emphasized over and over that the Nunn-Lugar programs were
never intended to be disarmament programs. They were strictly intended to help
the Russians keep all those excess Soviet nukes from getting into the
hands of rogue states or terrorists.
Nevertheless, the incoming Clinton-Gore Administration seized on the Nunn-Lugar
programs – as well as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, itself, and the
just negotiated Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – as levers to advance their
cause of global nuke disarmament via the United Nations.
Note that a) nuke non-proliferation and b) nuke disarmament are very different
And, until Clinton-Gore came to power, the NPT – which had to be renewed every
five years – was about nothing other than preventing the acquisition by hook
or crook of nukes by those NPT signatories who did not already have nukes.
However, there is this Article VI in the NPT that says something about the
declared nuke states agreeing to someday seriously consider getting rid of all
their nukes, too.
So, soon after taking office, President Clinton began to pledge at UN Conference
after UN Conference that he would comply with Article VI, now, rather than someday.
He began the unilateral and irreversible subjection of our "excess" nuke materials
and nuke infrastructure to the NPT-IAEA inspection regime.
By 1995 Clinton had gotten all Nonproliferation Treaty signatories to agree
to extend the life of NPT indefinitely.
As a byproduct of that indefinite NPT extension there are now NPT Review Conferences
held every five years wherein the signatories assess effectiveness of the NPT-IAEA
The first Review Conference – held in 2000 – was considered by the disarmament
crowd to be a great success, in spite of the fact that in 1998 both India and
Pakistan – neither country an NPT signatory – had detonated their homegrown
nukes for the first time.
Why a success? Because the Clinton administration committed the United States
"an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish
the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament
to which all states parties are committed."
Then, at the 40th General Conference of the IAEA in 1997, Director General
Hans Blix announced the U.S.-IAEA-Russia Trilateral Agreement, hyped as an important
step towards the US and Russia meeting NPT nuke "disarmament obligations."
Misusing many hundreds of millions of dollars of Nunn-Lugar funds, each side
would dispose of – under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors – 34 tons of
weapons-grade plutonium, recovered from thousands of U.S. and Soviet dismantled
So Clinton was well on his way to transforming the NPT into a disarmament treaty
and the IAEA into a disarmament agency.
Then Bush the Younger came to power, making John Bolton Undersecretary of State
for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Bolton apparently believes
the United States – not the United Nations – is the presumptive world government
for the 21st Century and has acted accordingly.
As Undersecretary, Bolton has aggressively and stridently attacked multilateral
institutions and international treaties that the US cannot control – such as
the IAEA and the NPT.
Now, Bush has nominated Bolton to be our Ambassador to the United Nations.
Will he be at the 2005 NPT Review Conference? Stay tuned.