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June 1, 2018
Enhanced Prospects for 2010: An Analysis of the Third PrepCom and the Outlook for the 2010 NPT Review Conference
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Rebecca Johnson

The just-concluded third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference has been heralded as a much-needed success story, with much of the credit given to the Obama administration's more positive approach to multilateral diplomacy and arms control. In the most constructive and collegial atmosphere seen in an NPT meeting since 2002, the agenda and all significant procedural decisions for 2010 were adopted expeditiously in the first week of the May 4-15 meeting in New York. Barring any unforeseen and dramatic deterioration in relations, there is an excellent chance that next year's review conference will be able to open smoothly and get down to work without the kind of frustrating procedural delays that marred the 2005 NPT Review Conference.[1] Although the PrepCom was not able to agree on substantive recommendations to transmit to the review conference, the negotiations on the chair's three successive drafts established a useful framework for forward-looking recommendations to be negotiated in 2010 and provided a reality check on the commitments that different states will seek to include in or exclude from the documents that emerge from next year's conference.

The PrepCom has given a boost to hopes for a productive review conference in 2010, but it also demonstrates how much work will need to be done over the next year politically and diplomatically to achieve the kind of agreements that will genuinely strengthen the nonproliferation regime and provide a basis for building security in a world free of nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama's April 5 speech in Prague laid the groundwork for the U.S. delegation, headed by Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller, to engage more constructively on disarmament issues. Although Obama's nonproliferation team is not fully in place, the U.S. delegation contributed to the positive atmospherics and successful adoption of important agreements to pave the way for the review conference. The delegation adopted a more progressive position than its predecessor on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and highlighted forthcoming negotiations with Russia on verifiable nuclear arms reductions before START expires in December while reiterating long-held U.S. positions that placed emphasis on the need for full compliance and stronger tools to detect and punish treaty violations.

The five countries recognized as nuclear-weapon states by the NPT-China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States-intended to demonstrate unity by issuing a joint press release on the last day, but this effort did not succeed in masking the significant differences among the five on a number of issues. Apart from being able for the first time in years to mention the CTBT positively and welcome the U.S.-Russian negotiations for a follow-on to START, the statement was bland and brief. With the group of nonaligned states also increasingly unable to agree on anything but the basics, it was interesting to see the growing number of cross-group and cross-regional alliances coming together to pursue shared objectives. These contributed to better multilateral dynamics-very different from 2005-and enabled the chair, Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe, to pilot the PrepCom through its decisions and debates.

Although the Obama administration can claim most credit for improving NPT dynamics, others played their part. Iran, for example, tabled several strongly worded working papers and made its usual combative speeches but did nothing to impede consensus on the agenda or other procedural decisions, choosing instead to go along with positions put forward collectively by the Nonaligned Movement (NAM). Egypt vied at times with Iran to raise concerns about the lack of progress on disarmament, but on seeing three core elements of its proposals on the 1995 resolution on the Middle East reflected in the draft recommendations, Egypt had a vested interest in maintaining constructive dialogue, especially with Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States on this issue. Like the United States, Iran and Egypt were more willing to compromise at this PrepCom than in recent years. Iran's more constructive attitude may have signaled a desire to come in from the cold and renew engagement with the United States and other NPT parties to resolve international mistrust over its nuclear program, but the influence of domestic and pre-election politics should not be discounted. In addition, having supported Chidyausiku as the NAM's nominee to chair the meeting and in view of the friendly relations between Iran and Zimbabwe, it would not have been in Iran's interests to undermine the chair.

The change in NPT dynamics put the spotlight on other players. France, which had joined the United States in opposing a similar agenda in 2004,[2] tried to reinstate phrasing that would take into account developments since 2000, which NAM countries, chiefly Iran, had made clear they would not accept. With the United Kingdom supporting the United States' flexible approach on this point, France came under pressure from the rest of the Western group to join the consensus and allow the chair's proposed agenda to be adopted without the additional language. Signaling its continuing resistance to implementing the 2000 commitments on disarmament, a position that could have challenging implications for 2010, France reasserted itself later by opposing references to a nuclear weapons convention and, together with Russia, playing a prominent role in diluting and distorting the disarmament recommendations put forward in the chair's first draft. China also gave cause for concern, reportedly exerting behind-the-scenes pressure, for example, to remove references to a moratorium on fissile materials production, in ways that belied the virtuous exhortations of its public statements. Meanwhile, the shadow of North Korea's 2003 withdrawal from the treaty and subsequent development and testing of nuclear weapons pervaded the meeting, most notably in discussions on the importance of the CTBT and how to interpret and apply the NPT Article X provision on withdrawal.

All in all, the PrepCom's conduct and debates, described in greater detail below, give cause for hope but show that leadership and quiet diplomacy will be necessary to turn hopes into agreed action plans to reduce nuclear dangers and promote sustainable disarmament and nonproliferation. The challenges still facing the nonproliferation regime should not be underestimated.

Agreement on Agenda, Procedures

In multilateral diplomacy, the agenda is viewed as providing a basis and framework for discussion, and those wishing to obstruct negotiations often make the agenda their first battleground. This happened in 2005, when NPT parties learned the bitter lesson that failure to adopt a review conference agenda in advance can lead to days, even weeks, of wasted time. With France aiding and abetting, the United States refused to accept the agenda that had been proposed by the chair and the NPT Secretariat at the 2004 PrepCom. U.S. opposition to that agenda had opened up a can of worms, as a small number of delegations insisted on introducing or removing references to past conferences and nuclear-related developments in subsequent drafts of the 2005 agenda. Each suggestion was viewed through the political lens of opponents as providing legitimacy for parties to walk away from consensus decisions taken by previous review conferences or to pile additional issues on to the NPT plate. The procedural debates in 2005 became so debilitating that, in the end, an agenda was adopted only in the third week of the four-week meeting, held together with an asterisk referring to statements by the review conference president and the NAM.

This year, the United States was clearly determined to avoid a repetition of the 2004-2005 mess. Taking a more flexible approach, the Obama administration signaled that it was keen to enable the 2010 review conference to start from day one with a workable agenda. Chidyausiku consulted widely and concluded that, without the toxic political atmosphere of 2004-2005, the simplest approach would work best. His starting point was the agenda used in 2000, which took into account the "decisions and the resolution adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference." To these he added "and the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference."

Associated with the agenda, the PrepCom also agreed to allocate specific issues for consideration by the three main committees. Although broad questions of strengthening the tools and institutions of nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament, peace and security, and NPT universality are to be covered by all the committees, Main Committee I is specifically charged with reviewing the operations of the NPT's Article I and II provisions relating to the nontransfer of nuclear technologies, and nuclear disarmament, as specified in Article VI and the "13 steps" disarmament action plan agreed in 2000.

Main Committee I is also required to address the use of nuclear weapons. This part of the committee's mandate includes UN Security Council Resolutions 255 (1968) and 984 (1995) on security assurances by the nuclear-weapon states not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-state NPT parties.

Main Committee II is intended to focus more directly on Article III, which contains the obligation on non-nuclear-weapon states to conclude safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This will be the forum for discussions on making full-scope safeguards the standard for receiving nuclear exports and increasing the number of countries applying the IAEA's Additional Protocol. This committee also addresses Article VII, which covers nuclear-weapon-free zones and other regional issues. The 1995 resolution on the Middle East is considered part of this committee's jurisdiction, but it now looks likely that the review conference will establish a special "subsidiary body" to focus more specifically on this issue. As a result of the UN General Assembly's study and subsequent adoption of annual resolutions on disarmament education, both committees are also expected to discuss how to promote public education on these issues.

Developments related to the safety and security of fissile materials and what delegations call the "peaceful uses of nuclear energy" comprise the subject matter of Main Committee III, together with "other provisions of the treaty." Since North Korea's announcement of its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, these debates have generally focused on Article X, with consideration of how to respond and what conditions to impose if parties wish to leave the treaty. Most of the proposals aim to find ways to dissuade potential proliferators from withdrawing from the treaty and developing nuclear weapons by addressing their stated security concerns or increasing the political and economic costs of withdrawing. The issue is highly sensitive, however, raising concerns among some states that their right to withdraw could become restricted or subject to sanctions.

To the relief and satisfaction of PrepCom participants, the chair's proposals on the agenda and allocation of items were adopted without any opposition on the third day of the meeting. Another decision that has caused problems in the past but received unanimous assent from the delegates to this PrepCom concerned agreement on background documentation to be prepared by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the IAEA, and various nuclear-weapon-free-zone secretariats.

Among the other procedural decisions that will smooth the way for the 2010 review conference, the PrepCom agreed on draft rules of procedure and designated the main chairs and post holders for the conference. Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, nominated by NAM, has been endorsed as president-designate for 2010, despite private fears expressed by some delegations that he had insufficient experience in multilateral diplomacy or the NPT. In accordance with usual practice, these designations will need to be confirmed at the beginning of the 2010 review conference. In a further decision, the dates for the 2010 review conference were set back one week, meaning that the meeting is scheduled to take place May 3-28, 2010. This shift was necessitated by the United Nations' "Capital Master Plan" for conference services and facilities while its New York headquarters are being refurbished.

Testing the Waters on Substance

Once the critical administrative decisions for the 2010 review conference had been made, the rest of the meeting was devoted to matters of substance, as the PrepCom was formally tasked with transmitting recommendations to the review conference. Over six days, delegations made statements and submitted papers on a range of the most important nonproliferation and disarmament issues. These added to the proposals and ideas from the previous two PrepComs, which were in turn summarized in working papers issued by the chairs of those meetings, Ambassador Yukiya Amano of Japan and Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko of Ukraine. Using this range of proposals and arguments as a basis, Chidyausiku and the NPT Secretariat did their best to identify areas of agreement that could be recommended to the 2010 review conference.

Divided into eight sections, the first draft reconfirmed or indicated ways to implement commitments deriving from consensus agreements adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the 2000 review conference, the two most recent meetings at which NPT parties were able to make decisions. It sought to look further forward, suggesting recommendations that would take into account the transforming commitments to pursue deeper disarmament, de-emphasize nuclear weapons, and build a world free of nuclear weapons, ideas evoked by more and more leaders around the world, including Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Although it took into account many of the ideas and proposals for making future progress, it inevitably did not satisfy everyone.

After receiving formal and informal objections and alternatives, the chair put forward a revised draft. That appeared to please even fewer delegations. A bit like the three bears' porridge, the first draft was regarded as hot on disarmament, but too lukewarm on compliance, with no mention of full-scope safeguards. The second draft was warmer on safeguards and compliance but so cool on disarmament that many considered it to be a step backward from the 2000 agreements. By the time a third draft, showing tracked options, was circulated on the last morning, it was clear that the PrepCom was not going to get agreement on substantive recommendations to send to the review conference. There was something for everyone, but not enough all around.

Although it would have been a mistake to lower the common denominator until the recommendations could be pushed through at the PrepCom, the drafts demonstrate useful areas for potential agreement that will help governments as they prepare for 2010. The drafts also highlight a number of important issues that may require certain governments to consult with one another and resolve their differences sufficiently to enable sensitive subject matter to be addressed without deadlocking or derailing the review conference.

Perhaps the most striking development was contained in the recommendations on the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which survived all three drafts. The draft text on the issue said the resolution was "an essential element of the outcome of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and of the basis on which the treaty was indefinitely extended." Recommendations followed to establish a subsidiary body at the review conference "to consider concrete practical steps to promote the earliest implementation" of the resolution and for the review conference to consider appointing a special coordinator and convening a future conference on the issue. These recommendations were based on proposals from the League of Arab States, NAM, and others. Conflicts among NPT parties related to proliferation and security concerns in the Middle East, ­notably the nuclear programs of Israel, a non-NPT party, and Iran, have brought past review conferences to the brink of failure, but many are now hoping that, with constructive U.S. leadership in 2010, it will be possible to move forward on the basis of the proposals. Attainment of that goal would be greatly complicated, however, if the Arab states and Iran push for specific measures to be taken by Israel.

Also welcome was the reappearance of commitments to bring the CTBT into force, after years of opposition from the Bush administration. Obama's promise to pursue U.S. ratification of this treaty, which has already been signed by 180 states and ratified by 148, ensured that CTBT entry into force was prominently advocated in the first draft of the recommendations. This draft underscored the importance of Article VI and "the growing expectations for progress to achieve nuclear disarmament" and called for an "action plan" setting "practical, achievable and specified goals, and measures leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons." Another paragraph specified practical disarmament initiatives. In addition to the CTBT and negotiations on a "verifiable fissile material treaty," the document updated the disarmament commitments adopted in 2000, calling for further deep and verifiable reductions in strategic and nonstrategic nuclear arsenals. Other goals cited in the document were expanding transparency, ensuring irreversibility, reducing the operational status of nuclear forces, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security policies, refraining from the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, and strengthening monitoring and verification for nuclear dismantlement and fissile materials.

Following up on the exhortations of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and reflecting growing momentum for a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty to be put on the world's future agenda for serious consideration, the first draft also called on the review conference to "[e]xamine, inter alia, ways and means to commence negotiations, in accordance with [A]rticle VI, on a convention or framework of agreements to achieve global nuclear disarmament and to engage non-parties to the Treaty." This language appeared unacceptable to some, if not all, of the nuclear-weapon states, and subsequent revisions rendered the aspiration of aiming towards negotiating a nuclear weapons convention almost invisible.

As illustrated in the second draft, the nuclear-weapon states insisted that the reference to a fissile material treaty should include the word "cutoff" to underline their position that a fissile materials production ban should prohibit only future production and not address existing stocks. The word "cutoff" appeared in brackets in subsequent drafts. China also opposed language that encouraged all nuclear-weapon states to declare a moratorium on the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons, pending conclusion of a fissile material cutoff treaty. China is widely believed to have halted such production years ago, but its persistent opposition to declaring a moratorium may continue to be a problem in 2010 and beyond.

Russia pushed for caveats that would make the fulfillment of any disarmament commitments contingent on "international stability and the principle of undiminished security for all." Although they may sound innocuous, such phrases are heavily loaded with contradictions. The security of non-nuclear-weapon states and, some might argue, of the nuclear possessors themselves may have long been diminished by the nuclear arsenals and policies of the nuclear-weapon states. Yet if certain nuclear powers associate their own possession of nuclear weapons with stability and security, they could argue that any step toward disarmament would diminish the security they feel. The context of such conditions can be particularly significant. As placed in the first revision to the chair's draft, the phrase appeared to provide the nuclear powers with a ready-made, if unprovable, justification for refusing to take any disarmament actions. The third draft sought to address some of the contradictions but left loopholes that could continue to constitute a barrier to further disarmament undertakings.

Western insistence ensured that the second and third drafts contained stronger language on compliance, with specific references to the importance of universalizing full-scope safeguards and increasing the IAEA's "ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities." Elsewhere, the draft recommendations on nuclear safety went beyond the nuclear waste and accident concerns of earlier review conferences. Covering nuclear terrorism and the need to prevent black-market supply networks, trafficking, and acquisition of nuclear weapons or related materials by nonstate actors, these recommendations referred to the importance of implementing various Security Council resolutions passed during 2004-2008, such as Resolutions 1540, 1673, and 1810.

Lessons for 2010

The above analysis of the chair's three drafts on recommendations is intended to give a flavor of the process and some of the key issues but does not purport to provide a comprehensive representation of the recommendations or the working papers and proposals from which they were derived. As it turned out, the PrepCom was unable to adopt any of the drafts. Although there were ritual expressions of disappointment and accusations that some delegations had not been willing to "go the extra mile," the failure to agree on recommendations for 2010 was not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, many participants were actually relieved.

The process was useful because it highlighted the major areas of contention and aspiration that need further work over the coming year. In some ways, the failure to reach agreement on the recommendations was a plus. There is a danger that, in adopting recommendations in 2009, the PrepCom could have tied the hands of delegations to the 2010 review conference to lowest-common-denominator positions, when it may be possible to achieve more next year. In particular, with the United States only now getting its nonproliferation team together and undertaking a review of its strategic security and nuclear posture, it is not clear whose interests would have been served by adopting text on recommendations now. Critics of this view might argue that the various drafts were hedged with caveats claiming that they would be "conveyed without regard to priority, without prejudice to other initiatives that States parties may wish to offer, and without any intention to represent a comprehensive summary of all initiatives proposed." Such texts, however, once diplomats reach agreement on them, have a habit in diplomacy of getting embedded in the minds of advocates, who then use the prior agreement to resist revisions.

In addition to highlighting areas that will need further work before the review conference, the drafting process demonstrated the kind of relatively short document on forward-looking recommendations that might be possible in 2010. The structure of the first draft was retained in subsequent revisions although there were disagreements over section headings. This structure made sense and was regarded as having checked off the treaty parties' essential boxes: universality; nuclear disarmament; strengthened safeguards to prevent proliferation; peaceful uses of nuclear energy; safety and security; implementation of regional nonproliferation and disarmament, including the 1995 resolution on the Middle East; measures to address treaty withdrawal; institutional measures to strengthen the nonproliferation regime; and engagement with civil society, including disarmament and nonproliferation education.

Such an approach, if carried forward in 2010, could be helpful in enabling NPT parties to negotiate next steps in parallel with their review of the treaty's operation. In previous review conferences, it has been particularly difficult to gain consensus on how to characterize past performance, so it would be helpful if states agreed to separate the tasks of deciding on future actions and reviewing the past record. Because it will be 10 years since the NPT governments last managed to agree on anything substantive, there are likely to be highly contested differing views on whether there has been full compliance by all parties or sufficient progress on disarmament. There will also be sensitivities around which to navigate, especially with regard to the nuclear-weapon states that are in the process of renewing or modernizing nuclear weapons systems and countries that have been investigated for noncompliance with their safeguards or NPT obligations, such as Iran and Syria.

Attempts to name specific countries or criticize the nuclear powers for failing to live up to their obligations have caused deadlock in the past. Even the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference failed to agree on a final document covering the review of the treaty. As the negotiations in the main committees became bogged down in disagreements about whether the previous five years should be characterized positively or negatively, the 1995 conference undertook separate negotiations on principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and strengthening the review process. Without these decisions, as well as the resolution on the Middle East, it is unlikely that the treaty could have been indefinitely extended without a vote. Similarly, in 2000, the 13 steps on nuclear disarmament were negotiated first in a subsidiary body on practical disarmament measures and then by the five nuclear-weapon states and the New Agenda Coalition, while the main committees focused on the review. On this occasion, although the negotiations on the review of the treaty's operation and commitments for the future were negotiated separately, the political environment was sufficiently positive to enable the forward-looking commitments to be combined with the review and adopted as a single final document. It is too early to predict what might happen in 2010, but a constructive outcome would be greatly facilitated if parties recognize and accept that the forward-looking recommendations and the text reviewing and evaluating the past decade's developments need to be negotiated separately.


Because it proved impossible to agree on recommendations for 2010, some diplomats have characterized the 2009 PrepCom as a procedural success but a substantive failure. Such assessments misunderstand both the role and the significance of the PrepCom. The chief role of the third PrepCom should be to lay the groundwork for the following year's review conference. A critical part of this preparatory task is to decide on the agenda, officers, and background documentation, which this meeting achieved. A further, equally important function of the PrepCom is to make governments aware of expectations and contentious issues so that these matters can be addressed in the months leading up to the review conference.

Among all the relevant issues that were debated, three seem most likely to determine the success or failure of the review conference. What emerged from the PrepCom was a clear sense of the need to develop practical measures for carrying forward commitments on nuclear disarmament and the Middle East and strengthening the regime institutions to deal more effectively with questions of compliance and implementation. The principal mechanisms for identifying and discussing these issues were the chair's drafts on recommendations. By airing these issues in a context that was reasonably cooperative and forward-looking, the PrepCom performed a useful service.

Notwithstanding their rhetoric encouraging Chidyausiku to keep trying because "we are nearly there," few delegates really believed that consensus on any significant recommendations would be achievable one year prior to the deadline for the real decisions. Somewhat to their surprise, they found themselves closer to accomplishing this task than any previous PrepCom, but the negotiators next year will have cause to thank them for not locking down the possibilities prematurely.

By sending the NPT a direct message in which he reiterated his commitment to seeking the "peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons," Obama hoped to restore confidence in the NPT's credibility and effectiveness. This more constructive U.S. approach clearly had a beneficial influence on the conduct and outcome of the 2009 PrepCom, and its positive effects are now being felt in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which two weeks later agreed on a program of work, including negotiations on a verifiable fissile material treaty, ending more than 11 years of paralysis.

If sustained in the CD and carried into the 2010 review conference, the improved dynamics and cross-group alliances may create new opportunities for substantive progress in 2010 and beyond. Many challenges lie ahead. Obama's leadership will be necessary to ensure that the U.S.-Russian negotiations on a START follow-on bear fruit and lead to further reductions in non-strategic as well as strategic nuclear weapons. His leadership also will be needed in facilitating U.S. ratification of the CTBT, which would reinvigorate efforts to bring the treaty into full legal effect, reinforcing the international community's hand when dealing with North Korea's continuing attempts to develop and test nuclear weapons. Now that the CD appears ready to start negotiating a fissile material production ban, the nuclear-weapon possessors will need to dust off their political, technical, and verification resources and encourage other countries to send effective negotiating teams to Geneva. Obama has made a good start by re-establishing a constructive arms control relationship with Russia but must reach out to China to allay its concerns about future threats from missile defenses or space-based weapons and to forge a more effective partnership to address the proliferation challenges coming from North Korea.

The British government has expressed support for a world without nuclear weapons and has made intriguing statements about becoming a "disarmament laboratory." Closer British and U.S. cooperation could provide leadership to work on the technical challenges of verifying nuclear disarmament and bring the other nuclear possessors-the non-NPT parties as well as the declared nuclear-weapon states-onto the path toward reducing reliance on nuclear weapons. Although no one is arguing for the 13 steps to be reaffirmed without change, the summaries from the 2007 and 2008 PrepComs and the chair's draft recommendations this year suggest that states will want to identify more concrete steps and negotiate a more urgent action plan to implement these commitments. International eyes will be watching to see whether the Obama administration makes good on its rhetoric and further de-emphasizes the role of nuclear weapons when its new nuclear posture is determined in the coming year.

It is widely recognized that the problems besetting the Middle East cannot all be addressed or resolved in the NPT context. Nevertheless, it is clear that strengthening the nonproliferation regime means that more must be done to engage with the concerns of people and states in the Middle East, where Israel's nuclear arsenal and Iran's nuclear ambitions constitute a proliferation-driving subtext that continues to undermine regional stability and could derail international efforts to strengthen the nonproliferation regime in 2010 and beyond. During the PrepCom, Iran and Egypt each showed signs of internal disarray, not least over whether to court the Obama administration or remain aloof and condemnatory. Iran's forthcoming elections may be critical in determining which direction it takes, but the international community must consider whether there might be better ways to engage Iran and reduce the proliferation dangers arising from its uranium-enrichment program.

Finally, the PrepCom has demonstrated yet again that there is a need to develop some concrete and practical options for strengthening the NPT's institutional powers, resources, and authority, whether through converting the current review process into one with annual decision-making meetings or by giving intersessional powers to a secretariat or nominated bureau.[3]

For the review conference in 2010 to be judged successful, there will need to be agreement on renewed principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, together with an action plan and some practical steps for reducing nuclear dangers, strengthening the nonproliferation regime, and accelerating progress on nuclear disarmament. The real challenge, however, is not about what kind of document can be adopted in 2010, but what kind of agreements and commitments are undertaken, and whether the NPT parties have the political will and institutional capacity to ensure their implementation. Although the positive atmospherics of the 2009 PrepCom give cause for hope, the 2010 review conference will be successful only if it results in decisions that are taken seriously and implemented. For this, the key governments need to project beyond 2010 and work hard over the next year to develop convincing action plans and apply the requisite resources for meeting proliferation challenges and moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Rebecca Johnson is executive director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. Her new book on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Unfinished Business, has just been published by the United Nations.


1. See Rebecca Johnson, "Why the 2005 NPT Review Conference Failed," Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 80 (Autumn 2005), pp. 3-32; Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, "President's Assessment of the 2005 NPT Review Conference," Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 81 (Winter 2005), pp. 3-5.

2. See Rebecca Johnson, "Report on the 2004 NPT PrepCom," Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 77 (May/June 2004), pp. 23-31.

3. See Michael Spies, "Proposals, Positions and Prospects: Issues Facing the 2010 NPT Review Conference," Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 90 (Spring 2009), pp. 12-29.