UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia late Friday blocked agreement on the final document of a four-week review of the UN treaty considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, which criticized the military takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant shortly. after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, an act that has heightened fears of a nuclear disaster.
Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told the delayed final meeting of the conference on the 50-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty that, unfortunately, there is no consensus on this document. He insisted that many countries – not just Russia – disagreed with “a whole host of issues” in the 36-page final draft.
The final document was to be approved by all countries at the conference that are parties to the treaty that aims to contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
Argentine Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, president of the conference, said the final draft reflects his best efforts to address the differing views and expectations of the parties “on a progressive outcome” at a time in history when “our world is becoming increasingly more is ravaged by conflict, and, most disturbingly, the ever-growing prospect of the unthinkable nuclear war.”
But after Vishnevetsky spoke, Zlauvinen told delegates, “I see that the conference is not in a position at this point to agree on its substantive work.”
The NPT Review Conference was scheduled to take place every five years, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the second failure of the 191 states parties to produce a result document. The last review conference in 2015 ended without agreement due to serious disagreements over the establishment of a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
Those differences have not disappeared, but are being discussed, and the design results obtained by The Associated Press are said to have reaffirmed the importance of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. This was not seen as a major stumbling block this year.
The issue that changed the dynamic of the conference was the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia is a “powerful” nuclear power and that any attempt to intervene would lead to “consequences you never seen before”. .” He also put Russia’s nuclear forces on edge.
Putin has since backtracked, saying that “a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought,” a message echoed by a senior Russian official on the opening day of the NPT conference on Aug. 2.
But the Russian leader’s initial threat and occupation of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, as well as the takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, renewed fears of a new nuclear power plant. emergency.
The four references in the draft final document to the Zaporizhzhya plant, where Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling, are said to have led the NPT parties to “express serious concerns about military activities” in or near the facility and other nuclear power plants. .
It would also have acknowledged Ukraine’s loss of control and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inability to ensure the plant’s nuclear material is protected. It supported the IAEA’s efforts to visit Zaporizhzhya to ensure there is no diversion of its nuclear materials, a trip the agency’s director hopes to organize in the coming days.
The draft also expressed “serious concerns” about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, in particular Zaporizhzhya, and emphasized “the utmost importance of control by the competent authorities of Ukraine”.
After the conference did not approve the document, dozens of countries took the floor to express their views.
Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the nonaligned movement, made up of 120 developing countries, expressed disappointment at the failure, calling the final document “of the utmost importance”.
Yann Hwang, French Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, read a statement on behalf of 56 countries and the European Union reaffirming his unwavering support for Ukraine and Russia’s “dangerous nuclear rhetoric, actions and provocative statements about increasing nuclear alert level”.
The countries expressed deep concern that Russia is undermining international peace and the objectives of the NPT “by waging its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine”.
The deputy head of the Russian delegation, Andrei Belousov, said the conference had become “a political hostage” to countries that “poisoned discussions” with political language about Ukraine and were determined “to settle accounts with Russia by raising issues which are not directly related to the treaty.”
“These states, namely Ukraine and the supporters of the regime in Kiev, bear full responsibility for the lack of a positive outcome,” he said.
Adam Scheinman, the US Special Representative for Nuclear Non-Proliferation, noted that the final draft never mentioned Russia, and he said the situation at the Zaporizhzhya plant exists because of Russia’s electoral war.”
“Russia is the reason we don’t have a consensus today,” he said. “The last-minute changes Russia sought were not minor. They were intended to shield Russia’s clear intent to wipe Ukraine off the map.”
Under the terms of the NPT, the five original nuclear powers—the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain, and France—agreed to one day negotiate eliminating their arsenals, and countries without they promised not to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for a guarantee to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The draft final document is said to have expressed deep concern “that the threat from the use of nuclear weapons today is greater than at any time since the heights of the Cold War and the deteriorating international security environment.” It would also have required parties to the treaty “to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.”
Rebecca Johnson, a British nuclear analyst and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, said that “after weeks of negotiations in a time of war, unprecedented global risks and heightened nuclear threats, it is now clearer than ever that the abolition of nuclear weapons is urgent and necessary.”
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said: “This NPT conference is a missed opportunity to strengthen the treaty and global security by agreeing on a specific action plan with benchmarks and timelines that is essential to the growing dangers of nuclear arms race and the use of nuclear weapons.”