Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Meeting Ends With Concerns on Disarmament

The Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, shown on April 22, ended its second session on Friday (United Nations Office at Geneva photo).
The Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference, shown on April 22, ended its second session on Friday (United Nations Office at Geneva photo).

Nations attending the latest preparatory meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference warned on Friday that nuclear-armed states are updating their arsenals and keeping weapons on rapid-launch readiness even while they are obligated to move toward disarmament, the Associated Press reported.

The two-week Preparatory Committee session ended on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland. Such meetings are convened to lay the groundwork for review conferences held every five years to assess the operation of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and to set future plans.

Romanian Ambassador Cornel Feruta, in his chairman's summary of the meeting, noted that a number of nations "stressed that they remain deeply concerned at the maintenance of many nuclear weapons on a high alert level." The document also cites worries "over the continued modernization of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems and related infrastructure."

The treaty requires its formal nuclear powers -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- to ultimately give up their arsenals.

"We heard clearly the message from friends around the world that they wish to see a faster pace on reduction of nuclear weapons in the world," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, who led the Obama administration team at the meeting. However, he noted "actual progress" in drawing down the U.S. nuclear stockpile and those held by other countries.

The United States and Russia pledged under the New START treaty to by 2018 cap their counts of deployed strategic warheads at 1,550 and fielded delivery systems at 700.

North Korea's nuclear arms advances and concerns about Iran's atomic intentions were emphasized at the session, AP reported. The Egyptian delegation also walked out of the event earlier this week in protest of the failure to meet the timeframe for conducting an international meeting on a WMD-free Middle East, as was mandated by the 2010 review conference.

Countryman on Friday warned of Iranian and North Korean efforts to acquire advanced equipment and parts for weapons and nuclear efforts, Reuters reported. Those activities breach U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on both countries, according to the diplomat.

"Both Iran and North Korea have developed channels that enable them to continue to export and continue to procure the items they need for their weapons industry," Countryman said to reporters in Geneva.

Regarding the potential for ballistic missile collaboration between Tehran and Pyongyang to develop into nuclear cooperation, an unidentified U.S. official said: "They have contacts. We are watching it."

Representatives from 106 NPT member nations attended this meeting, the second of three planned ahead of the 2015 conference, according to the United Nations at Geneva. The final preparatory session is scheduled for April 28 to May 9 of next year in New York, which will also be the site of the review conference.

May 3, 2013
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Nations attending the latest preparatory meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference warned on Friday that nuclear-armed states are updating their arsenals and keeping weapons on rapid-launch readiness even while they are obligated to move toward disarmament, the Associated Press reported.