Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107
(Washington, D.C.): World leaders will meet Sept. 14-16 at the United Nations in New York to address critical challenges confronting international peace and security. But the Bush administration, led by Ambassador John Bolton, is jeopardizing the meeting's chances of success by seeking to dilute and eliminate a raft of commitments to reduce the dangers posed by biological, chemical, conventional, and nuclear arms from the UN meeting's draft final document. The nonpartisan Arms Control Association and other nongovernmental organizations are encouraging governments to preserve essential nonproliferation and disarmament commitments from the U.S. axe.
Reportedly, the administration's hit list includes declarations of support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) to end the production of key materials for building nuclear arms, the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines, small arms regulations, and nuclear-weapon-free zones, which are regions where countries forswear nuclear weapons. Most troubling is the administration's move to strip away all references to disarmament obligations, say the experts.
The 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) codified a deal in which countries without nuclear weapons would not seek them and nuclear-armed states would progress toward eventually giving them up. Although the administration supports retaining a call in the draft UN document for all countries to adhere to the NPT, it is seeking to cut more explicit language spelling out the actual disarmament obligations of the treaty.
"Ignoring one half of the NPT equation jeopardizes the other half," warns Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA). ACA joined with Greenpeace International, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, and New York-based Reaching Critical Will project in sending letters August 17 to all UN member states recommending they conclude an outcome document that would "recommit the nuclear-weapon states, and all states, to the fulfillment of their nuclear disarmament obligations."
The organizations also urged states to maintain a nuclear testing moratorium pending the CTBT's entry into force. Referring to the administration's opposition to the accord, the organizations wrote, "If one or another state cannot at this time endorse this goal, that state should not be allowed to silence the vast majority that do."
"The upcoming UN meeting represents an excellent opportunity to bolster international efforts to counter the threat posed by dangerous weapons, but the Bush administration is on the verge of sabotaging it," stated Kimball. He added, "Other governments should avoid becoming accomplices and instead stand up for a meaningful nonproliferation and disarmament outcome."
The text of the draft outcome document is available at http://www.un.org/ga/59/hlpm_rev.2.pdf. The text of the August 17 letter to UN missions is available at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/1com05/NGOlettertoGovernments.html. For more information on the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, see http://www.NPT2005.org.
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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.