Russia blocks final nuclear treaty document

Source: Hot Air

For the past four weeks, representatives from nations around the world have been taking part in the quinquennial review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This week, a “final version” of their report was circulated in draft form for all of the members to review. But Igor Vishnevetsky, the Russian representative to the conference, claimed that there is “no consensus” on the 36-page document, insisting that “many countries” were opposed to it, despite the only opposition seeming to come from Russia and a handful of its allies. The major objection stems from language criticizing the invasion of Ukraine and the various threats to nuclear stability that have emerged from it. This has left some members fearing that only a brief, single-page statement reaffirming generic support for the NPT might get unanimous support.

Russia late Friday blocked agreement on the final document of a four-week review of the U.N. treaty considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament which criticized its military takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear plant soon after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, an act that has raised fears of a nuclear disaster.

Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, told the delayed final meeting of the conference reviewing the 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that “unfortunately there is no consensus on this document.” He insisted that many countries — not just Russia — didn’t agree with “a whole host of issues” in the 36-page last draft.

The final document needed approval of all countries at the conference that are parties to the treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving a world without them.

If the group could have managed to publish a final report without mentioning Ukraine, they would likely have had a good shot at unanimity and finishing their business on schedule. But that would be rather hard to do in the middle of a war featuring one of the world’s chief nuclear powers that keeps threatening to detonate some nukes. They’ve also managed to endanger the integrity of two nuclear power plants leading to fears of another catastrophe like Chernobyl. (The NFT doesn’t actually focus on reactors, but it’s in the same theme in this case.)

Most of this review just seemed like window dressing, really. The world is far more divided than it’s been in decades and there’s very little that everyone can agree upon. Why would the NPT be any different?

Keep in mind that the overarching goal of the treaty is to slow or even stop the spread of nuclear weapons around the globe and work toward “a world without nuclear weapons.” That may sound great in theory, but the world is actually moving in the opposite direction. The big players may not be cranking out as many new nukes as they did during the cold war, but they’re not scaling back much either. And new countries are clamoring to join the nuclear club on both sides of the new cold war.

If we’re being realistic, it should be obvious that nobody is going to be giving up their nukes at this point unless everyone was doing it simultaneously. Some smaller countries no doubt believe that having their own nukes is the only measure of security they have against being overrun. And that’s not an unreasonable attitude to take. When one of your neighbors has WMDs and you don’t, you’re in a weaker position. That’s why South Korea has been discussing getting some nukes recently.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty had a noble purpose when it was first proposed. And it has arguably played a role in the fact that nobody has dropped a nuke in anger since the closing days of the Second World War. (Though Mutually Assured Destruction – MAD – likely played a far bigger part.) But countries having nuclear-tipped ICBMs pointed at each other eventually became the new normal. I don’t foresee us going back to the pre-nuclear weapons world in any of our lifetimes unless we wind up detonating them all.