The NGO morning Abolition Caucus met each day at 8 AM, following a tradition of the past 15 years. It has been very inspiring to meet with so many new people, many of them young, initiating new members into our work for a nuclear weapons convention and support for IRENA with a phase out of nuclear power. At the opening of the NPT, we had as many as 60 people each morning, and even after many people went home we have never had less than about 15 people showing up each day for the morning caucus.
We issued two statements on the Main Committee I report (disarmament)
(SEE ALSO below or use links to download)
and Main Committee III report (nuclear energy)
and distributed them to the delegates. We delivered about 30 thank you cards to the representatives of the countries that issued statements in support of the nuclear weapons convention which were greatly appreciated. See http://www.icanw.org/statements for a list of supporting countries. We sent two letters to Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, one thanking him for his support for the Nuclear Weapons Convention and the other urging him to employ mediation and negotiation with hostile parties, while expressing our disapproval of the western states walk out on President Ahmadinejad’s speech. We issued minutes of our meetings each day and will be continuing until the end of the conference on May 28th. Alice Slater
by Alice Slater
The NGO Abolition Morning Caucus met every day during the four week Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference starting on Tuesday, May 4th straight through to the last day of the UN meeting on May 28th. We gathered each day at 8:00 AM at the UN gates on First Avenue, waiting for the guards to unlock the chains on the UN fence and then proceeded through “security” to the temporary building on the North Lawn where a conference room had been reserved for the use of NGOs. Conference Room A was almost always in use, hosting the Abolition Caucus, the daily NGO government briefings organized by Reaching Critical Will, the plethora of NGO panels, films, testimony from Hibakusha, brainstorming and strategy sessions through the course of the Review.
Our Abolition Caucus began each morning by reviewing the day’s calendar, proposing a new agenda for each day, and then brainstorming to plan various actions during the course of the Conference. At the end of each meeting a new facilitator would volunteer to Chair the meeting for the following day, and volunteers sent out daily minutes of our work. In the first week, as many as 60 nuclear activists showed up at our morning meetings, hailing from every continent and united in our commitment to rid the world of the nuclear scourge.
We were encouraged by the many nations who called for negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention and all signed on to about 30 thank you notes that were presented to their Ambassadors at the Review conference. The Ambassador from Switzerland was so moved by our message that he asked us to send another one to his Foreign Minister. We sent two letters from the caucus to Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon. One expressed our thanks and appreciation for his enthusiastic support of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention and his Five Point Plan. The other was to express our dismay and urge mediation instead of the rude treatment we witnessed of Iran’s President, by the western powers who walked out on him during his speech on the first day of the Conference.
We drafted statements in response to the Main Committee I and III reports, issued our own nuclear abolitionists preamble to the report, did a satirical take on the conference in The Scallion, a riff on The Onion, a US publication that writes spoofs of current events, and issued a final statement and critique of the weakened outcome document at the Conference. Usually our documents were inserted in the News in Review issued each day by Reaching Critical Will for distribution to the delegates. The Abolition Caucus documents are on the web at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/2010index.html under “Other Resources”. We also networked with the Commission on Sustainable Development which was meeting concurrently with the NPT and addressing the catastrophic results of mining. They held a heart-wrenching presentation on the havoc of uranium mining. Our caucus was able to enroll the French government, represented at one of the morning briefings, to permit us to show the promo for a film on the evils of uranium mining at the closing of a French presentation on the benefits of “peaceful” nuclear power.
At the close of the meeting we presented the delegates with fortune cookies, which when opened, said “Global Zero Now”. Most important, we now have a list of over 100 international participants who can continue the warm relationships and camaraderie that developed over the four weeks, newly energized and inspired by each other as we work together for a nuclear free world. Onward to June 5th and International Nuclear Abolition Day!! See www.icanw.org
Statement by the NGO Abolition Caucus
of the NPT Review Conference 2010
Response to the Report of Main Committee I
and the Draft Action Plan of Subsidiary Body I
19 May 2010
The NGO Abolition Caucus of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2010 in general
welcomes the Report of Main Committee I: Chairman’s Draft on Substantive Elements and Subsidiary
Body I: Chairman’s Draft Action Plan released on Friday, 14 May 2010. The Caucus supports, in
particular, the overall emphasis that both documents place on the need to achieve the complete
elimination of nuclear weapons as a matter of urgency and within a specified timeframe. The 26-point
draft action plan prepared by the Chair of Subsidiary Body I sets out a concrete and detailed
programme for advancing a nuclear-weapon-free world. It reflects a compromise between the
overwhelming calls from civil society, together with a majority of countries, for the immediate
commencement of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention and the positions of some States not
yet ready to begin such negotiations.
We support the affirmation by the Conference that all States, in particular all States possessing nuclear
weapons, need to make special efforts to establish the legal framework required to achieve nuclear
disarmament and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. This should include preparatory work,
which can begin without delay. We also welcome the acknowledgement by the Conference that UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament, which includes
consideration of a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a framework of mutually reinforcing instruments,
contributes towards efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The Caucus expresses its general support for Action 6 of the 26-point draft action plan, which calls for
consultations not later than 2011 to accelerate concrete progress on nuclear disarmament aimed at the
rapid conclusion of negotiations on reductions of all types of nuclear weapons, the removal of nuclear
weapons stationed in Europe as part of a nuclear-sharing arrangement, a further diminishment of the
role of nuclear weapons in military and security doctrines and policies, the announcement of
declaratory policies against the use of nuclear weapons, a reduction in the operational readiness of
nuclear weapon systems, the elimination of the risk of accidental or unauthorized use, and the
enhancement of transparency measures. We believe that such consultations, rather than being limited to
the nuclear-weapon States, should include other States and non-government organizations.
The Caucus also supports the proposal that States parties invite the UN Secretary-General to convene
an international conference to consider ways and means to agree on a roadmap for the complete
elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe, including by means of a universal legal
instrument. With sufficient political will, this could occur before 2014. At this Review Conference,
States parties should offer their support to these specific proposals for action, as well as others
contained in the 26-point draft action plan.
Forty years after the entry into force of the Treaty, it is vital that parties adopt an outcome
document that puts us clearly on track to nuclear abolition.
Statement by the NGO Abolition Caucus
of the NPT Review Conference 2010
Response to the Report of Main Committee III:
Chairman’s Draft on Substantive Elements
May 20, 2010
The NGO Abolition Caucus of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference 2010 is generally opposed to the findings of the Report of Main Committee III: Chairman’s Draft on Substantive Elements released on Friday, 14 May 2010. In particular, the Caucus finds there is no evidentiary basis to support the Chair’s assertion in paragraph 6 that nuclear power contributes “in an important way to meet energy needs, improve health, combat poverty, protect the environment… thus helping to achieve the Millenium Development Goals…” The Chair’s draft does not acknowledge that there is disagreement among states parties on the characterization of nuclear energy as sustainable and safe.
Indeed, numerous independent studies indicate that dollar for dollar nuclear power for electricity production is one of the most expensive ways to meet energy needs, when lifecycle costs are compared to solar, wind, geothermal, appropriate hydropower and biomass, as well as efficiency measures. This is also true for reducing carbon emissions as expensive nuclear power would actually exacerbate catastrophic climate change since there is less carbon emission prevented per dollar spent on costly nuclear technology compared to applying those funds to clean energy sources and efficiency.
Further, countless studies, including recent reports from Germany in three communities with nuclear reactors, indicate that there are higher incidences of cancer, leukemia and birth defects in communities with toxic nuclear power plants that pollute the air, water, and soil in the course of routine operations. A recent report from the New York Academy of Sciences, by distinguished Russian scientists, finds that the deaths from the disastrous accident at Chernobyl now number over 900,000. NGOs also draw attention to the devastating impact of uranium mining on the health and welfare of surrounding communities.
The Abolition Caucus also objects to the Report’s ostensible recognition of “the safety and security issues associated with nuclear energy as well as the need to resolve the issue of managing radioactive waste in a sustainable manner…recognizing the continuing international efforts to address those issues” while failing to acknowledge that the radioactive byproducts of nuclear power will remain toxic for 250,000 years. There is no known solution to safely store this lethal brew for the eons it would threaten human health and the environment.
Finally, while a great deal of emphasis is placed in the Report on handling radioactive materials produced by nuclear energy safely and responsibly, including contemplated transport of those materials from all four corners of the earth over land and sea, there is no assurance that accidents or theft with disastrous consequences can be prevented. Nor will the “peaceful” use of nuclear technology contribute to world peace, when so many more countries will have their hands on the where-with-all and know-how with which to make a nuclear bomb.
We urge the parties to support universal participation in the International Renewable Energy Agency, providing a truly “inalienable right” to energy from the sun, wind, and tides, a right to which no nation can be denied, and to initiate a phase out of nuclear power for the health of the planet and future generations.
May 28, 2010
The NGO Abolition Caucus came to the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference determined to achieve a breakthrough on the road to a nuclear-weapons-free world. Specifically, we saw an opportunity for the NPT Member States to come together around a comprehensive, concrete, and urgent action plan for nuclear disarmament. That expectation was echoed by a large number of States who have called for the commencement of work on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and who have struggled to insert language to that effect in the Conference outcome.
We have had to resign ourselves to the likelihood that this will not be a breakthrough Conference, and that the outcome, whether or not it is regarded as successful by the participants, has fallen short of that essential objective. The gap between reassuring rhetoric about nuclear disarmament and real programs to rid the world of nuclear weapons is unacceptably wide at the end of this Conference.
We have not resigned ourselves to another five years without an action plan for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Upon the conclusion of this Review Conference, NGOs will immediately reach out to those States who have voiced support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and will explore steps we can take together to build a global foundation for such a treaty.
International agreements and actions to prevent horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons are important not only to provide a context in which progress can be made towards comprehensive nuclear disarmament agreement but also to promote international and regional security in the meantime. We recognize challenges to achieving NWFZs posed by the nature of conflicts and the symbolic value of nuclear weapons as providing an illusion of security and a symbol of power and prestige. In light of that, we welcome recent progress towards establishing nuclear weapons free zones across much of the world, and urge nuclear weapons states to follow up on their recent commitments to properly recognize these and to provide proper security guarantees. The emerging agreement to begin an international process to establish a NWFZ in the Middle East represents important progress.
While we applaud the efforts of the NPT Member States to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation provisions of the Treaty, we are deeply disturbed that the promotion of nuclear energy and the global expansion of the nuclear energy industry was given such unquestioned support at this Review Conference. Nuclear energy is fraught with health, environment, and proliferation dangers, and—dollar for dollar—nuclear power for electricity production is one of the most expensive ways to meet energy needs. We support universal participation in the International Renewable Energy Agency, providing a truly “inalienable right” to energy from the sun, wind, and tides, a right to which no nation can be denied, and to initiate a phase out of nuclear power for the health of the planet and future generations.
READ the new edition of The Scallion…reporting on disarmament as if a nuclear-weapons-free world mattered