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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 26, May 1998

Editor's Introduction

Global efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and advance the cause of nuclear disarmament received a major blow in May with the carrying out of nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan. This edition of Disarmament Diplomacy devotes a Special Feature to the issue of the tests, incorporating key statements and comment from around the world. The Special Feature is introduced by Rebecca Johnson, who argues: "How the international community responds will be crucial in determining whether the non-proliferation norm survives...or whether it will erode further, with the horrifying prospect of...a nuclear free-for-all in the not-so-distant future."

The tests came in the wake of the unhappy 1998 Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting of States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); a meeting summarised by Rebecca Johnson in the last issue. To allow for maximum coverage of the nuclear crisis in South Asia, Johnson's full account of the PrepCom will be published as an ACRONYM Red Report, instead of being featured in this issue as originally planned. However, many key documents from the PrepCom are reproduced in this issue, while Tariq Rauf, from the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies,provides a hard-hitting assessment of the failure of the PrepCom to take advantage of the opportunities for progress afforded by the enhanced review process agreed in 1995. Rauf concludes that the PrepCom "effectively backed off" from the "commitments and expectations" established three years ago, and warns: "Should States fail to faithfully live up to their commitments and are unable to find the common ground that ensures further progress in non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, they risk an uncertain and insecure future."

The rest of May's issue features a CD Update by Rebecca Johnson, reporting on a number of key appointments, plus reaction in the Conference to the nuclear tests; Documents and Sources, including material from NATO, the G8, a meeting on non-proliferation issues between the United States and the European Union, and an alarming statement from North Korea questioning the continuation of the US-North Korea Framework Agreement; and News Review, reflecting newswire coverage of START II debates and delays in Russia, claims and developments concerning Indian and Pakistani missile programmes, European Union agreement on a Code of Conduct to regulate arms exports, and the declaration of a "solemn commitment" by the US to join the Ottawa Landmines Convention by 2006.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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