"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Nuclear Powers Meet in Beijing on NPT

Tom Z. Collina

Meeting for the fourth time since the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, the five countries that the treaty recognizes as nuclear-weapon states met in Beijing on April 14 and 15 to review their progress toward fulfilling the nuclear disarmament commitments they made at the 2010 conference.

The conference’s final document calls on the five states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to report on their progress in getting rid of nuclear weapons and preventing their use. The report is to be delivered at an April 28-May 9 preparatory meeting in New York for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

In an April 15 joint statement, the five states said they had given each other their “national reports consistent with [the NPT] reporting framework” and planned to report to the preparatory meeting on transparency, confidence building, and verification.

The five countries “reaffirmed their commitment to the shared goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament as provided for in Article VI of the NPT.” They said they plan to continue to seek progress on the “step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, which is the only practical path to achieving a world without nuclear weapons and in keeping with our NPT obligations.”

This is likely to be a controversial position at the preparatory meeting, where many states without nuclear weapons believe that the step-by-step process is too slow. The steps in that process include the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which China, the United States, and six other key countries have not ratified, thereby preventing the treaty from entering into force; a fissile material cutoff treaty, the negotiation of which has been blocked by Pakistan at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; and reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons below the levels set by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Because of the downturn in U.S.-Russian relations, such reductions now appear a distant prospect.

Countries impatient for progress on nuclear disarmament are supporting a series of conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use. The first two conferences took place in Norway in March 2013 and Mexico in February of this year; a third is to be held in Austria Dec. 8-9.

The five nuclear-weapon states said they intend to meet again in London in 2015.