The Guardian 16 March, 2005

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
2005 Review Conference

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 2005 Review Conference will take place at the United Nations in New York from May 2 to 27, 2005.

The treaty is reviewed every five years and at the last review conference in 2000 the five acknowledged nuclear weapons states (the US, Britain, France, China and Russia) made new promises to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Israel is not acknowledged by Western governments or the UN as a nuclear weapons state, despite its development and accumulation of these weapons.

The signatories to the treaty promised not to take part in providing nuclear weapons technology or nuclear weapons (in whole or parts) to the countries which did not have them.

Non-nuclear weapons states promised to not acquire nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons states would not use nuclear weapons against them.

With the nuclear states, in particular the US, not taking serious steps towards eliminating its nuclear arsenal, the NPT has become a means of protecting their monopoly over these weapons.

That was not the intention of the original treaty when it was approved by the UN in 1968.

In 1996, the International Court of Justice agreed unanimously that Article VI of the Treaty imposed an obligation on the nuclear weapons states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Conference after conference has reaffirmed the "total and unequivocal" commitment to eliminate nuclear arsenals.

In year 2005 the world is facing an increased danger from nuclear proliferation.

The Bush administration in particular has failed to honour the treaty obligations and the additional promise given at the 2000 review conference. It has started the production of a new generation of nuclear weapons smaller and more compact. The USA justifies the violation of the NPT obligations by their "war on terrorism".

The Bush Administration is seeking to change the NPT so that the nuclear weapons states will no longer be obliged to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. It is says that it "no longer supports" the 13 steps agreed to at the conference in 2000. It states that the agreement of the 2000 review conference is "merely historical" and should be set aside.

If the USA succeeds in doing this, the disintegration of the NPT is almost a forgone conclusion.

Mohammed El Baradei, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director has repreatedly stated that it is unsustainable for nuclear weapons states to claim a right to hold nuclear weapons while asking others not to develop them.

In view of the serious threat and attempts to undermine the NPT, readers are urged to write to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to act in support of the treaty and its Article VI, which demands that nuclear weapons states should eliminate their stockpiles.

The NPT has many faults but is the only existing mechanism guarding against the unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Letters should be addressed to:

Hon. Alexander Downer
Foreign Minister
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600

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