NPT PrepCom finally adopts its report

12 May 2007
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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

NPT PrepCom 2007

NPT PrepCom finally adopts its report

Vienna, Friday May 11, 19.00

Rebecca Johnson

An hour after the NPT PrepCom was due to close and with time running out, the Chair, Ambassador Yukiya Amano snatched a substantial victory from the jaws of defeat, by getting the PrepCom report adopted. Although there was opposition to his Chair's summary being annexed formally to the report, he managed to get agreement that his summary would be called a Chairman's paper and turned into a working paper of the conference.

Though many liked much that was in the Chair's thoughtful summary, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) decided that it had not sufficiently reflected their positions on several issues, including the Additional Protocol and export controls, as presented in their numerous statements and working papers. The NAM therefore took the position that the summary should not be formally annexed to the PrepCom report.

The Chair reportedly was willing to accept this, and instead issue the summary as a working paper, which is normal practice in such situations, but as meetings behind closed doors ate into the remaining time of the PrepCom, rumours flew that Iran, supported by three others, had threatened to veto the procedural report (containing the agenda (adopted by consensus on Tuesday) and notes of the dates and chair for the 1998 PrepCom) as a whole unless the Chair promised not to make his summary into a working paper. This hostage-taking of the PrepCom report was reportedly opposed by almost all of the rest of the NAM, many of whom liked the effective summary of the debates on nuclear disarmament and the Middle East. There then followed hours of wrangling in private meeting rooms as the Chair, the NAM and the Western group worked out their positions.

In the end, with various NAM countries arguing their positions back and forth within the NAM group, pragmatism and common sense prevailed. The report was adopted without the Chair's summary being attached, but it will be issued later as a working paper of the PrepCom.

After adopting the report, there were expressions of heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the Chair and for the colleagues from different groups from Cuba on behalf of the NAM, the UK on behalf of the Western Group, Slovenia on behalf of the Eastern Group, China (which caused a chuckle by describing itself as on behalf of the Chinese group).

[The quotes here are from contemporaneous notes and may have paraphrased inexactly what was said, but I hope I have been true to the spirit and intention of the speakers.]

Cuba called this a "felicitous result", paving the way for success in 2010, and reiterated the priority the NAM attaches to these important issues. Iran also spoke very graciously, expressing "at this late hour express sincere appreciation" to the Chair. Iran commented that the decisions were "not perfect" but commended the openness and flexibibility of the collective efforts of all, and concluded with expressing the desire for "collective efforts for peace in the world".

The UK, as coordinator of the Western Group also thanked the Chair for his "excellent work and report" and also expressed appreciation to the hosts (Austria) and "our colleagues in other regional groups for the collegial and practical approach which has laid the foundations for constructively going forward in this review cycle."

Slovenia, on behalf of Eastern Euros, add their voice to "thank the Chair and all for their efforts to bring this first session to a successful conclusion".

China, gave congratulations for the