Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

P5 should help make NPT a success

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-22 08:40

Non-nuclear weapon states want evidence of action

The Non-proliferation Treaty is at the moment fraught with tension between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. This friction inhibits broader efforts to strengthen the treaty.

The treaty cannot be strengthened if nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states do not work together. In many respects it will also be very difficult to enhance the treaty's implementation if the five recognized possessors of nuclear weapons cannot speak openly with one another or work in a collaborative fashion.

The tone around the P5 process, from both non-nuclear weapon states and Western civil society has changed remarkably since 2009. In essence, it went from cautiously optimistic to, in some cases, antagonistic. This is a difficult environment for the P5 process to operate in, and for the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to take place in.

In general, most non-nuclear weapon states wish to see more concrete evidence that the P5 are working to implement their disarmament commitments, and will continue to do so into the medium- and long-term. However, there is a genuine feeling among the P5 that their non-nuclear counterparts will never be satisfied. As a result, there may be a temptation to put their pleas aside.

Andrea Berger, research follow, Royal United Services Institute, UK.

P5 must take further steps toward nuclear disarmament

To strengthen our positions at the NPT Review Conference, further steps on irreversible nuclear disarmament must be undertaken by the P5. I am talking about the disposition of weapons-usable nuclear materials. In 2013 Russia and the United States completed the disposition of 500 tons of Russian High-Enriched Uranium as part of the HEU-LEU program. The United States is also completing the disposition of 186 tons of HEU that has been declared as excessive for national defense purposes.

The next in line is the implementation of the Russian-US agreement on plutonium disposition. It is important for the United States finally to decide how exactly it is going to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium, and for the two sides to enter the practical phase of implementing the agreement. But steps must also be made by the other nuclear-weapon states in this area. These states must support the efforts of Russia and the US by declaring certain quantities of HEU or plutonium as excessive for their national defense purposes, and by disposing of that material.

Given the complex nature of nuclear nonproliferation issues in the context of the upcoming NPT Review Conference, we need energetic dialogue, exchange of opinions and generating new ideas. Annual P5 meetings are important, though it is very worrying that some of the venues for such dialogue are disappearing.

Anton V. Khlopkov, director, Center for Energy and Security Studies, Russia.

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