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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

27 May 2005

In the final hours of the month-long conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), its President, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil) responded to correspondents’ questions regarding the outcome of that event. Also present at the Headquarters press conference was Under-Secretary-General, Department of Disarmament Affairs, Abe Nobuyasu.

Asked to provide his general assessment of the outcome of the Conference, Mr. Duarte said that substantively –- in terms of results and agreements - very little had been accomplished. Nevertheless, there were accomplishments in terms of the ways in which issues before the Conference had been discussed, despite the short time allotted for such discussions. The Conference had also been important in terms of the interest it had generated, the documents presented and the debate that took place in the Main Committees. The event had presented an opportunity for delegations to exchange their views, express their concerns and put forward proposals to improve the system of the Treaty. Thus, it would be hasty and superficial to simply declare the Conference a failure.

How much did the failure of the Conference undermine the Treaty? a correspondent asked. Mr. Duarte replied that he could not say if the results of the Conference had or had not undermined the Treaty. “Today, we have to see the way in which the results of the Conference will impact upon the Treaty, but I don’t think we can immediately decree here that they will undermine it”, he said.

To a question regarding the causes of the participants’ failure to agree on the final recommendations, Mr. Duarte answered that there was no quick answer. One could write several books on that. The main cause, of course, was the lack of understanding and convergence among States Parties on the best ways to achieve the purposes and objectives of the Treaty. Most of the main players and coalitions of players had widely divergent views in that respect. “If you want to examine that in depth, then we would need perhaps not a press conference, but a year-long review” to look into the outcome of the Conference, he added.

To a query where the promises of nuclear disarmament that had been made at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences stood after the failure of the latest Conference, he said that he could only provide his personal appraisal in that respect, and he did not think that would help the process in any way.

Asked if the United States was fully committed to the success of the Conference, he answered that every party to the Treaty was fully committed to the success of the Conference, “as each participant defines success”.

Another correspondent commented that the United States was being very aggressive in its nuclear policies. What were the chances of a coalition of countries coming together to stop it? he asked.

Mr. Duarte said that he would not be able to estimate such chances in mathematical terms. He did not know if a coalition of countries would be able to stop any country from pursuing its policies, as long as those policies were pursued in a manner consistent with international responsibilities of any country.

Responding to a question regarding Member States’ possible actions in the aftermath of the Conference, he said that some countries had indicated that immediately after its end, they would start preparing for the next review in five years. They planned to pursue that through many channels. He did not know exactly what was meant by that, but he would imagine that the international community would be motivated to bring forward new suggestions and ideas to reinforce the system and bring new impetus to the non-proliferation process. Certainly, the civil society would also have a role to play.

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