The pivotal 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been postponed again, until sometime in 2022, according to multiple diplomatic sources.
The meeting, which typically occurs every five years and involves hundreds of representatives from most of the 191 states-parties to the treaty, was originally set to begin in April 2020 at UN headquarters in New York. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 led to an initial decision to reschedule until “no later than April 2021.” (See ACT, April 2020.) In October 2020, conference president-designate Gustavo Zlauvinen announced that states-parties decided to postpone again, until August 2021. (See ACT, November 2020.)
But with the COVID-19 virus still posing a public health threat in many parts of the world, a majority of states-parties have told Zlauvinen they want a further postponement, until 2022. They have not yet settled on a new date for the month-long meeting.
One option would have been to start the conference on Jan. 17, 2022, but sources indicated that China objected because that would conflict with the opening session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. An alternative option under discussion is to start earlier, on Jan. 4, but that would conflict with the first meeting of states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, now set for Jan. 12–14 in Vienna. (See ACT, May 2021.)
The NPT review conference caps a five-year cycle of meetings during which states-parties review implementation and compliance with the treaty and seek agreement on action steps to overcome new nonproliferation challenges and to fulfill core goals and objectives.—DARYL G. KIMBALL