The dramaturgy of the final week of the NPT Review Conference in New York brings us four knots of contradictions that must either be untied or cut in order to have any chance for an outcome document.
The first two nodes are predictable and traditional for the NPT review process. The first one is dissatisfaction of the non-nuclear states, led by the Non-Aligned Movement, by the diluted language of the draft outcome document (which we saw late last night) on nuclear disarmament – on Article 6. Secondly, it is the growing concern of the Arab countries, led by Egypt, that the topic of Israel and WMDFZ generally went into the shadows, although the solution to the problem of WMDFZ in the Middle East, if you remove the rhetoric, has not moved off the ground since 1995. All this is taking place against the backdrop of an interesting process of adopting a new JCPOA between Iran and the United States, and the document, according to rumors, has already been agreed upon and is ready for signing even… tomorrow.
The other two nodes are new. And they are the ones we have never seen before. The third is the safety of nuclear power plants during hostilities: the Europeans are pushing very hard for the return mentioning of Russia as the only “evil force” in the issue of the Zaporyzhye nuclear power plant. Russia went counterattacking and believes that the text is weak precisely because it does not condemn Ukraine, which is shelling nuclear power plants. A compromise was proposed yesterday by South Africa; but today I don’t feel it anymore, because the Europeans have gone into a rage. And the fourth knot – it is knitted by China, and it is about AUCUS; it is not yet clear whether the Chinese will tighten this knot or whether they are simply “testing” the situation for the future.
What will happen tomorrow? I am now writing these lines from a building on the East River. And… no one is making noises here. It’s over. The chance of tomorrow’s consensus is microscopic. If in 1995, 2005 and – especially – in 2015, the stumbling block was the letter “I” (and it was not Iran, but Israel – which had to be called to account, and the Americans stood behind this “I” as a wall, not being afraid to disrupt the consensus, because the delegation had clear red lines according to instructions from Washington), then this year the stumbling block is the letter… how did you guess? Yes, there is such a letter: “Z”. I’m talking about Zaporyzhye. I’m talking about nuclear power plant. And what is going on around it. Western Europe and Russia did not agree on the interpretation. And they don’t seem to fit. You will laugh. But the call for Israel (as well as India and Pakistan, all three having nuclear weapons and staying outside the Treaty) to join the NPT is item 99 on the list of recommendations (out of 102 in total). Well, about Zaporyzhye – big point number 50. And another big point number 34. It was clear in advance that it could not suit Russia in such a formulation. Well, there are other letters… here’s another: it starts with “A”, ends with submarines… AUCUS. Everything about it in the draft is diluted… because the Australians, the British, and the Brazilians, all have diluted and diluted it for their own reasons. “That is not what should be diluted!” – thumped the Chinese. Although they were quieter today than at the beginning of the conference.
In general, I should probably speak confidently about this draft final document in the past tense. Evening descends on Manhattan. In key missions, key work has begun. And the table too. So, today the French ambassador called the chairman of the conference, the Argentinean Gustavo Zlauvinen, “to drink a beer, and maybe we’ll decide everything.” In general, the mood in the hall is strong not to leave the conference tomorrow empty-handed. The chairman is a clever, talented diplomat. Maybe he will conjure something. Maybe something completely different, non-consensual, chairmanish.
But for now, the national red lines outweigh everything. The stakes have been raised. “C’est La Vie,” – the French ambassador grinned today. – “Well, you understood me even without an interpreter.” Yes, we clearly did. Only then the Frenchman again began to twist into the text “about the atrocities of Russians in Ukraine around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.” What did you say about consensus?..
Let’s compare. It’s August 26, the final day of the NPT Review Conference. The main battle is coming. That is what Orlov and Semenov said. July 26, 2022. PIR Center and RIAC Joint Report “X NPT Review Conference: Limits of the Possible”“It is impossible to ignore the fact that a number of notable players in the review process, both nuclear and non-nuclear – from the US, UK and France to Switzerland, Japan and New Zealand – have imposed tough sanctions against Russia and are classified by Russia as unfriendly countries. Maling partnerships and compromises with those who use strangulation tactics against you, and in some cases provoke you by supplying arms to your adversary, is both unrealistic and humiliating and should be avoided. The Western powers who want to turn an NPT RevCon into a trial of Russia, it is worth considering which regime they want to strengthen more: the one in Kyiv or the nuclear nonproliferation regime?”
Let’s compare-2. It’s August 26, the final day of the NPT Review Conference. The main battle is coming. That is what Orlov and Semenov said. July 26, 2022. PIR Center and RIAC Joint Report “X NPT Review Conference: Limits of the Possible”:
“Russia is obviously interested in the successful holding of the conference. This does not mean, however, that the final document is beneficial for Russia at any cost. As mentioned above, the RevCon should end with the adoption of a balanced, realistic document that reflects all the serious issues of the functioning of the nuclear nonproliferation regime: both the widely publicized disarmament issues and less conspicuous aspects: IAEA safeguards, export controls, nuclear security.
Russia is in a position to promote the adoption of such a document on interaction with the key players of the Conference.”
Let’s compare-3. It’s August 26, the final day of the NPT Review Conference. The main battle is coming. That is what Orlov and Semenov said. July 26, 2022. PIR Center and RIAC Joint Report “X NPT Review Conference: Limits of the Possible”:
“We also fully admit a scenario, according to which by the last days of the conference the states parties to the Treaty will be far from agreeing. In this case, it is advisable to calculate plan B in advance. Since neither the Treaty itself, nor the package of decisions of the 1995 Conference provides a specific template according to which treaty implementation should be reviewed, in an unfavorable scenario the Chair should be invited to issue a factual summary of the discussions during the Review Conference. Such a summary could be used as a starting point for the next Review Cycle.”
10 control hours in stock. We are working. We are waiting for what Zlauvinen prescribed there. We are clung, figuratively speaking, to the fax. After that, let’s check the clock.
PIR Center Founder & Director