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Bush Nuclear Weapons Policies Jeopardizing Nonproliferation Regime
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Key Meeting on Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Begins April 8

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2002

Contact: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x 107

(Washington, D.C.): On April 8, the members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will meet to discuss and review implementation of the 1968 treaty, which calls on the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom to work toward giving up their nuclear weapons. In exchange, the 182 non-nuclear treaty members agree to forego nuclear weapons.

This marks the first meeting on the treaty since the 2000 NPT review conference, where the nuclear-weapon states pledged themselves to an "unequivocal undertaking" to eliminate their nuclear arsenals and all of the 187 NPT states-parties reached consensus on a final document, which laid out 13 "practical steps" for the nuclear-weapon states to take to move toward fulfilling their nuclear disarmament obligations in Article VI of the treaty.

Since then, the nuclear states have made little progress in realizing these 13 steps. In fact, the Bush administration has pursued policies, such as withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, shelving-at least for now-the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and rejecting irreversible nuclear force reductions, which contradict most of the agreed steps.

"The NPT is crucial to international security because it makes the production and acquisition of nuclear weapons technically challenging and widely unacceptable," says Ambassador George Bunn, who served on the original U.S. negotiating team for the treaty. "But the NPT does not simply aim to maintain the nuclear status quo. Article VI of the NPT requires that the original five nuclear-weapon states pursue effective nuclear disarmament measures. Until now, U.S. leaders have recognized that to preserve the objective of global nonproliferation, the nuclear-weapon states need to respect and act on their disarmament commitments," Bunn notes.

"While other nuclear-weapon states can and should be faulted for their inaction on nuclear arms control and disarmament, the Bush administration has pursued a set of policies that contradict that goal," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "Rather than reducing U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has extended and reaffirmed their central role in U.S. security policy."

"The Bush administration's do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do nuclear weapons policies contradict the United States' NPT commitments and jeopardize the future of the treaty," warned Kimball. "To win international support for efforts to denuclearize Iraq and North Korea and strengthen safeguards to ensure compliance with the treaty, the U.S. must pursue, not postpone, its disarmament obligations. To work, the NPT requires good faith implementation by all states."

For a summary on implementation of the 13 steps, see www.armscontrol.org/aca/npt13steps.asp

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.

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Posted: April 4, 2002