Report on visit to the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in Geneva

May 2003

From: Dave Knight (GN U.N. Representative) -


I arrived two days before the PrepCom started so that I could attend the Steering Committee meeting of the International Peace Bureau, which reunited me with many friends and acquaintances from different Non-Governmental Organisations from around the world.

NGO Activities

There were other NGO business meetings, such as the Annual General Meeting of Abolition 2000 International which was very enjoyable and useful. A trip round the flea-market at lunchtime produced an exciting if not valuable find.

There are many interesting NGO panels/workshops on the fringe of the PrepCom and some government delegates attend. The one titled “Treaty Busters: US Nuclear Weapons Programs and Policies under the Bush Regime” was the most alarming. It produced despair in some but greater determination in others.

Global Network (GN) Board member Regina Hagen made a presentation to the PrepCom along with other NGO representatives and she and I launched the European Working Group on Missile Defense and Space Weaponisation with a founding meeting.


Much of my time was spent talking with Delegates on behalf of the Global Network, focusing on the militarisation and weaponisation of space and missile defense and how they relate to the international nuclear disarmament process. I met with delegates from 22 different governments, some in order to maintain or renew contact but others for more detailed discussions. I distributed a paper highlighting the political, economic and social dangers of ‘Theatre’ Missile Defense and another on Independent Moratoriums on the Development and Deployment of Weapons in Space and a Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space Treaty.

We have wide support for our views on missile defense and even wider for those on weaponisation of space (see reports from the UN First Committee). However many states are involved in TMD and this makes getting them to actively oppose missile defense difficult. In addition, militarisation of space is a hard nut to crack with most states believing that the military surveillance and control and command aspects of space use are irreversible. While this may be true in the short term we should still maintain the de-militarisation of space as a fundamental aim of our campaign.

The PrepCom

As expected the focus this year was on compliance with the NPT: Iraq, North Korea and the Nuclear Weapon States. In addition the Middle East and Israel’s nuclear arsenal figured highly as well as the reporting by states on their activities in support of the Treaty and how the Treaty could operate between meetings. The fears of the Non-Nuclear Weapon States with regard to the Negative Security Assurances given them by the NWS were expressed.

The US made a very strong and undiplomatic attack on Iran but the following day Iran came back with a vigorous rebuttal, quite rightly, accusing the US of hypocrisy.

In the end no real progress was made on any issue but many states were laying the ground for further discussions at next year’s PrepCom and the Review Conference in 2005. However since the NWS were no longer talking about the unequivocal commitment to the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, which they made at the 2000 RevCon the storm clouds will once again be gathering over the future of the NPT and the international nuclear disarmament process.

Our campaign against missile defense and the militarisation of space is crucial to maintaining the pressure on governments to turn away from nuclear weapons and militarisation generally and towards a co-operative and just world order .


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