More than 50 years have passed since the Non-Proliferation Treaty had been signed, and the world has not experienced any nuclear catastrophe thereafter. However, the scholars of the security studies deem this phase as one of the biggest achievements of the NPT regime and the collaborative effort of the signatory states despite having many failures. By contrast, recently, the world witnesses new threat of using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine War, the constant budgetary increase of the United States’ in nuclear arsenals, provocative remarks of North Korea about the use of nukes and rivalry of Iran and Israel with ramifications of nuclear weapons brought the world into a grim grip of security labyrinth.
Given such puzzles of world politics, where everything is unprecedented and unpredictable, recently the signatory states from different parts of the world have started congregating at the United Nations for joining the tenth ‘review conference’ (RevCon) of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which was decided to postpone due to the vile foray of Covid-19. ‘Review’ (conference) is a crucial array of the treaty where member states, congregate in a meeting after every five years, and scrutinise as well as review their operation, progression, and effectiveness of the NPT on thwarting and diminution of nuclear arsenals. This action is run based on the article-8, paragraph-3 of the treaty. Since the treaty actively came into force in 1970, every five years have been marked with RevCon.
This Year’s RevCon: Notio and Challenge
This year’s NPT RevCon, specially for the Ukraine crisis, is remarkably significant and crucial for its extra account and response toward handling the reality of war and mass destruction in Ukraine. Beyond any doubt, the focal point of the treaty is Russia and its incessant intimidation of using nukes over the Ukraine territory. Along with the United States and other European giants, Russia is also a signatory to the treaty where the major powers are entangled with some serious obligations about using nuclear technology beyond any peaceful and developmental energy project. Consequently, this account has brought forth a perplexing question regarding the implication and operation of NPT. While every major power even small states like North Korea is in a wicked race of enhancing nuclear capability, is NPT in a good position to bring a halt to this vicious competition? This could have been a serious rickety for the NPT to be widely reassessed in the ongoing RevCon.
Ongoing World Crises and Antonio Guterres’ Remarks: How Much Relevant?
In the way of approaching toward a peaceful world, the Ukraine crisis has emerged with a climacteric case of the nuclear issue. Not only the Ukraine crisis but also the geopolitical tension between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific region, the border clash between India and Pakistan, the provocation of attack from North Korea and so on brought the nuclear issue to the forefront with a grave concern for the world peace and stability. In such geopolitical turmoil, the Review Conference will bring about a significant implication for the signatory states. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General said, “The Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is an opportunity to hammer-out the measures that will help avoid certain disasters.”
Apart from the optimism of the RevCon, Antonio Guterres warned the world leaders to think twice before using nukes blatantly. He said, “Humanity’s just one misunderstanding away from ‘nuclear annihilation’.” To get rid of nuclear annihilation the only way left is a collective effort of disarmament. In that case, unity with trust is competent to ensure peace while disunity with distrust can conduce appalling instability. Guterres added, “Distrust has replaced dialogue and disunity has replaced disarmament.” That is why it is very crucial for the member states to come into a common room of unity and trust intending to ensure a peaceful world. Guterres also got dismayed by talking about a world which is full of more than 13000 nuclear weapons. He further urged the member states to follow the highest level of normative ways to avert nuclear consequences. He added that “we need to strengthen all avenues of dialogue and transparency. Peace cannot take hold in an absence of trust and mutual respect,”
Remarks of the Head of the IAEA on the RevCon
As a nuclear watchdog of the UN, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the IAEA- International Atomic Energy Agency delivered some remarks on the inauguration day of the 10th RevCon where he showed his concerns about the rise of new spectre and dimension of the war in Ukraine. He outlined seven principles and pillars that, he avered, “should never be violated”. He then said in the conference, “All these seven principles have been trampled upon or violated since this tragic episode started”. Along with that he also addressed the issue of nuclear programmes of Iran for ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear technology in the country with the collaboration of the IAEA, besides, he also hoped that the IAEA inspectors would have to play a crucial role in bringing DPRK under the canopy of using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The Measures to Ensure Peace through the RevCon
Given all the political labyrinths, the one and foremost goal of the NPT is to ensure the dwindling of nuclear arsenals of the signatory states which might be palpable if the tenth RevCon brings out a good outcome by convincing the member states. To fulfil the aim the sole participation of the member states is extremely needed through their activities of fulfilling the aims of RevCon. In this respect, the mandatory goals that should highly be considered are: Taking particular actions for reducing nuclear arms, getting involved in interactive dialogue, strengthening fissile material management, ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear for energy and other correlated purposes and finally, reflecting and assessing the level of achievements of the objective and taking further measures.
This is, nonetheless, very unlikely to utter that the member states will achieve all the goals in no time. Notwithstanding, they all must use even the last penny for securing a peaceful environment where nuclear would just be utilised for energy, agricultural productivity and food security. This is not a utopia; this has all the characteristics to have appeared as reality if the states show the highs of bona-fides for the betterment of the peaceful world by ensuring the aforementioned goals by utilizing the Tenth NPT Review Conference.
[Header image: CTBT side event at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. Credit: the Official CTBTO Photostream, via Wikimedia Commons]
Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a Research Intern at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs.