Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Non-Proliferation Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office


  1.  The Foreign Affairs Committee has asked to receive memoranda following each of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Preparatory Committees of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It asked for the Government's aims for each Committee and whether they were achieved, together with a summary of the proceedings and conclusions of each Committee.

  2.  A Review Conference for the implementation of the NPT is held every five years. There will be three to four sessions of the Preparatory Committee to prepare for the next Conference in 2005. The first session was held from 8-19 April this year in New York. The NPT Review Conference of 2000 had tasked the 2002 and 2003 sessions to consider matters of substance relating to the NPT and to "factually summarise" these issues. The third Preparatory Committee session held in 2004 is tasked with producing recommendations for 2005. The Chair of the Committee rotates between the three main regional groups (Western Group, Eastern Group and Non-Aligned Movement).

  3.  Of the 187 states party to the NPT, 138 attended the first session of the Preparatory Committee. Of the four non-parties (Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan), Cuba was present as an observer. Other organisations, including non-governmental organisations, attended relevant sessions. Ambassador Henrik Salander of Sweden, of the Western Group, was elected Chair.

  4.  The 19 meetings of the 2002 Preparatory Committee were structured to provide equal time for consideration of the main areas of the Treaty. These included the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty relating to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, disarmament, safeguards of nuclear materials, nuclear weapon-free zones and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Time was also set aside for specific topics relating to disarmament, regional issues and the safety and security of peaceful nuclear programmes, including the prevention of nuclear terrorism.

  5.  The opening speech by the UK (attached[9]) set out our main aims and priorities. Our principal objective was to work to ensure the continuing health of the NPT and to confirm its central importance as the key multilateral nuclear non-proliferation instrument. It was particularly welcoming therefore to see a number of states party to joining the UK in making use of the new format of the Preparatory Committee to underline their commitment to the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its implementation.

  6.  Another objective was to highlight the steps the UK has taken towards disarmament (Article VI of the Treaty) and to welcome moves by others towards global and verifiable nuclear disarmament. We listed UK achievements in the disarmament field in the last few years and were able to announce that the UK's last Chevaline warhead would be dismantled in April 2002. The UK also drew attention to some theoretical and practical studies we have been carrying out. These studies hope to identify candidate technologies that could be used to verify reductions in any future arms reduction process that involves the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear weapons. We expressed the hope that we would be able to publish an unclassified paper on this before the Review Conference in 2005. In highlighting the steps taken by others towards disarmament, we welcomed the talks on reductions by the US and Russia, which has since resulted in the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty ("Treaty of Moscow").

  7.  Another UK disarmament objective was to highlight our continued commitment to the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The UK, along with France, was the first Nuclear Weapon State to ratify this Treaty of 6 April 1998. Likewise, we emphasised our support for the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

  8.  Universality of arms control treaties has long been an objective of the UK. To this end we, along with many other states, called upon the four non-members—India, Israel, Pakistan and Cuba—to join the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states. Regrettably, at present, all four still remain outside the NPT.

  9.  It is a UK objective to raise awareness of both compliance and non-proliferation issues. We urged states whose respect for the Treaty has been in doubt to provide assurance that the integrity of the NPT was being respected. We named Iraq and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in this context. In response to Iraq's assertions that it was compliant with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) requirements, we stressed that the inspection of declared nuclear material subject to safeguards in Iraq was no substitute for the broader and more intensive United Nations Security Council mandated verification measures.

  10.  The other UK objectives, particularly in the wake of terrorist events in 2001, was to highlight the importance of non-proliferation. The UK has committed an initial voluntary contribution of £250,000 to the IAEA's new counter-terrorism fund to assist in this. Raising awareness of the importance of both export controls and of safeguards of nuclear material is clearly very important for the UK and all other states who do not wish to see a proliferation of nuclear weapons technology. UK speeches drew attention to their importance and we supported a suggestion that it should be an obligation for NPT state parties to bring the Additional Protocol into force. The Additional Protocol was developed after weaknesses in the IAEA safeguards system were revealed by events in the early 1990s, most notably the discovery in the aftermath of the Gulf War that Iraq had been developing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme while at the same time ostensibly respecting a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. We believe that Additional Protocols will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing safeguards. The UK signed an additional protocol in 1998. Implementing legislation received Royal Assent in May 2000 and it will be brought into force when all other European Union member states complete their ratification procedures. Prior to entry into force we are providing the IAEA with voluntary declarations of the type required by the protocol.

  11.  To highlight UK work on non-proliferation in the Middle East, and to fulfil the requirements of the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference, the UK made a written report on the Middle East.

  12.  The Preparatory Committee adopted a procedural report to the Conference at its final session on 19 April. Annexed to that report was the Chair's factual summary (also attached[10]). This non-negotiated, non-binding, text was issued on a personal basis and covered issues raised at the meetings including disarmament, compliance, universality and non-proliferation. Most states parties welcomed the Summary as generally reflecting discussions at the Preparatory Committee although many, including the UK, highlighted areas to which they would have ideally given more attention. The UK would, for example, have stressed non-proliferation and compliance as measures of equal validity with disarmament for evaluating the Treaty's operation. We would have pressed for greater attention to be given to our own achievements in the disarmament field.

  13.  The second session of the Preparatory Committee will be held in Geneva from 2 April to 9 May 2003. It will be chaired by Ambassador La«szlo« Molna«r of Hungary of the Eastern Group. The third session will take place in 2004. The Chair will be drawn from the Non-Aligned Movement but has yet to be appointed.

Non-Proliferation Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

June 2002

9   First session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Statement by the Acting Head of the United Kingdom Delegation, Ambassador Peter Jenkins, 9 April 2002. Not printed. Back

10   Not printed. Published as Annex II, to the Preparatory Committee's Report, NPT/CONF.2005/PC.I/21. Back

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