Disarmament Insight


Monday, 2 June 2014

Nuclear disarmament: CD informal meeting (1)

The work plan developed by Ambassador Dr Walid M Abdelnasser of Egypt, the Coordinator of the Conference of Disarmament’s informal meetings on the CD's agenda item on nuclear disarmament, raised for discussion some legal elements and approaches for achieving nuclear disarmament. 
On 22 May 2014 UNIDIR was asked to present a paper to the CD on that topic.  The first part of the paper included these remarks based on Egypt's work plan:

Elements required to achieve nuclear disarmament: Key prohibitions

To be able to achieve nuclear disarmament, certain key prohibitions will need to be established through legally binding commitments.
These may include obligations:
- obligations not to retain, produce, develop, acquire, test, deploy, stockpile, maintain, transfer or finance the development of nuclear weapons, related nuclear materials, delivery systems and components,
- obligations not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons;
- obligations to destroy or convert for non-weapon purposes all production and development facilities, as well as delivery systems, command and control facilities; and
- obligations to place under international safety controls, materials for nuclear weapons (highly-enriched uranium, uranium-233, plutonium, tritium, etc.).

To implement these obligations, it will be necessary to agree on some or all of the following aspects:
- definitions;
- phases for implementation;
- verification;
- an implementing secretariat or international agency;
- individual declarations by nuclear weapon states on aspects of elimination specific to each such state;
- national implementation through new domestic legislation;
- cooperation, compliance and dispute settlement; and
- final clauses on entry into force, signature, ratification and accession, amendments, withdrawal, reservations, etc.

In addition to declarations by nuclear weapon states, there are likely to be – as in the Chemical Weapons Convention - various annexes and protocols on handling confidential information. Some details of verification, confidence building measures, nuclear activities, delivery vehicles and disposition of special nuclear materials may also be set out in annexes.

Further postings will cover points made during the same presentation under the heading “Approaches on how to achieve nuclear disarmament”. Those postings will list various legal vehicles or means through which the elimination of nuclear weapons may be pursued, as well as common rationales for those vehicles and processes for giving effect to them.

Tim Caughley, Resident Senior Fellow, UNIDIR