The NPT’s Uncertain Future: Can the NPDI Help?

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Since the time of the Treaty’s signature in 1968, the parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) have all agreed to implement a set of actions with the aim of supporting the three pillars of agreement: non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of energy. After a lengthy stalemate period in 2005, which resulted in no action plan, the NPT Review Conference 2010, is considered to have been a real breakthrough in the IR community. However, the situation today, especially after the Ukrainian crisis, which resulted in the annexation of Crimea by Russia, has cast real doubts on the operational utility of the future of the three pillars of the NPT. It is true that in the last decade certain crucial achievements were realized in the fields of both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, both regionally and globally. However, now that the three nuclear powers, the USA, Great Britain and the Russian Federation, have reneged on the promises they gave to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, whereby they agreed to preserve Kiev’s territorial integrity in return for Ukraine’s dismantling of its nuclear forces, the three pillars of the NPT seem to be in peril.

 

The good news is that the continuing Iranian negotiations, initiated for a six month period under the Geneva based interim agreement, brings hope. The expectations of the international community in this regard is quite high, particularly regarding the idea  that P5+1 in negotiations with Tehran would come up with a mutually legally binding solution, such that Iran’s contentious nuclear programme would be put back on the NPT track. In this way, it is the hope that the present fragile balance between the legitimate rights of the non-nuclear parties of NPT, the related rights of civil nuclear energy usage and the current nuclear proliferation concerns of the international community could be stabilized and strengthened. Today, the ongoing Ukrainian crisis is analogous to the Cold War years; the relations between the three Euro-Atlantic members and Russia which compose the P5 are so cold that this situation certainly necessitates the creation of some kind of confidence building measures (CBMs) in order to transcend the current impasse in both the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament realms. The 2010 dated Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a cross-regional group of 12 non-nuclear weapon states- Japan, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Turkey, UAE, Nigeria, Philippines, provides some optimism.

 

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