New UN Report Alleges Iran Still Transferring Weapons in Violation of Nuclear Deal

General Soleimani in Aleppo

General Soleimani (left) in Aleppo, Dec. 2016 (photo: Iranian media)

January 18, 2017 – Iran continues to transfer weapons in violation of its obligations under the Iranian nuclear deal according to information received by Ban Ki-moon which was detailed today in his final report to the Security Council on Tehran’s compliance with the deal.

Ban’s report also states that two individuals subject to a travel ban by the Security Council have violated that ban.

The report does, however, say that the UN Secretariat had not received any information regarding the sale, supply, or transfer of nuclear-related material to Iran in the past year.

Specifically, Ban’s report states, “On 5 July 2016, France brought to my attention information on the seizure of an arms shipment that, in its assessment, had originated in the Islamic Republic of Iran and was likely bound for Somalia or Yemen. According to information provided, the French frigate Provence, operating as part of the Combined Task Force 150, boarded a stateless dhow on 20 March 2016 in the northern Indian Ocean. That action resulted in the discovery of weapons aboard the vessel that included 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Hoshdar-M sniper rifles, 6 type-73 machine guns and 9 Kornet anti-tank missiles.”

“The Secretariat was recently provided with information (by the Combined Maritime Forces and Australia) on an arms seizure in February 2016 by the Royal Australian Navy, off the coast of Oman, which the United States of America assessed as having originated in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ban’s report adds.

“I look forward to the opportunity for the Secretariat to examine those weapons and previously seized weapons, in order to corroborate the information provided and independently ascertain the origin of the shipments,” Ban writes.

Ban’s report also states that on, “On 24 June 2016, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, stated in a televised speech that it receives all its weapons and missiles from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Any Iranian arms transfer to Hizbullah would have been undertaken contrary to the provisions,” of the Iran deal, the report says.

With regard to the travel ban, two individuals are named as allegedly having violated that ban by travelling to Syria and Iraq. The allegations in one instance are backed up by photos of one banned individual, General Qasem Soleimani, at the citadel in Aleppo.

On travel by Soleimani, the report states: “In recent months, additional information from open sources suggests that Major General Soleimani continues to engage in foreign travel. In late June 2016, several Iranian media outlets (Fars News Agency, Tasnim News Agency) reproduced pictures of Major General Soleimani visiting the former Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. In October 2016, another Iranian media outlet (Mehr News Agency) reproduced a picture of the General in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, visiting the family of a Kurdish Peshmerga officer killed fighting ISIL militants in 2015. In November 2016, the leader of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia declared that he was in Mosul along with other Iranian military advisers (Fars News Agency)…. In mid-December 2016, pictures showing the General at the citadel of Aleppo were widely circulated by Iranian and other media outlets (Fars News Agency).”

 

General Mohammad Reza Naqdi conducted a field tour in Quneitra

General Mohammad Reza Naqdi conducted a field tour in Quneitra

The other individual allegedly violating the travel ban is Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, former Deputy Chief of Armed Forces General Staff for Logistics and Industrial Research. Ban’s report says he “traveled to the Syrian Arab Republic in March and July 2016. In the following days, … media outlets reproduced pictures of him reportedly in the Golan region, near Qunaytirah, as well as in the Sayyidah Zainab mosque in Damascus.”

Ban’s full report is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Obama at the UN: Unfulfilled Promise

U.S. President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon toast at a leaders lunch on Sept. 20, 2016 (UN Photo).

U.S. President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon toast at a leaders lunch on Sept. 20, 2016 (UN Photo).

Sept. 20, 2016 –  U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday for the eight and final time, delivering a lackluster speech, noticeable mostly for the sparsity of applause lines – in stark contrast to his 2009 maiden speech.

That speech seven years ago was constantly interrupted by applause and cheers for the newly-elected U.S. president who promised to herald in a new era of U.S. engagement with the world, music to the ears of UN diplomats and secretariat officials after eight years of George W. Bush and five years after his disastrous decision to invade Iraq without a Security Council resolution.

Obama told delegates in 2009 that he would close Guantanamo, responsibly end the Iraq war, work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and take action on climate change.

One the latter two, he has shown commitment and desire. The Iran deal, while far from perfect, appears to have, at least temporarily, halted Tehran’s quest for an atomic weapon. The U.S still remains a non-signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, one of nine countries preventing it from going into force.

On climate change, Obama’s rhetoric has been strong but his actions less so. Much is made of the Paris Agreement, but it is just that, a non-binding agreement that lacks the force of a treaty.

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility remains open, albeit with less that 100 detainees. Nevertheless, it remains open and some detainees have spent more than a dozen years there without charge or trial – in fact, Guantanamo has been open for longer under Obama than under Bush.

The U.S. officially withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but has been re-involved there since 2014 supporting the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIS. Despite the different nature of the operation, many aspects of the 2003-11 Iraq war remain, including an insurgency and armed sectarian conflict. The decision to hastily withdraw from Iraq in 2011 has drawn criticism that it left a security void that was exploited by ISIS.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Obama called for a Palestinian state during his 2010 UN address but a year later vowed to veto a statehood bid by the Palestinians at the UN.

Where Obama has taken decisive action, such as in Libya, the outcome has been mayhem. Mandated to protect Libyan civilians using all means necessary, the US along with Arab and European allies ousted Gaddafi but failed to plan for the aftermath. The country now has two competing parliaments while another group controls the ports from where Libya exports its oil. The chaos also allowed ISIS gain a foothold in the country and it has become a major transit route for migrants seeking to make the dangerous crossing into Europe.

From the beginning of the Syria conflict in 2011, Obama insisted that Assad must step down and in 2012 he said that if Syria used chemical weapons that would cross a “red line.” Five years later Assad remains in power and continues to use chemical weapons against Syrian citizens.

While there were no easy options for resolving the Syria conflict, some countries at the UN, friendly to the US, suggest that the insistence by the US, along with France and the UK, that Assad step down prevented a solution, albeit an imperfect one, given Russia’s stance that Assad’s fate should be decided by a national poll. The more cynical inside the UN, say that the US, along with France and the UK, always knew that insisting Assad step down was never going to be viable and the status quo would continue - while giving the appearance that the Western powers were on the side of the Syrian people.

The U.S. also championed the cause of South Sudan independence, which was achieved in 2011. Yet, the breakup of Sudan has seen the misery continue for the South Sudanese people, with an estimated more than 50,000 killed in the past five years. Despite that many of the killings can be attributed to government forces, the U.S. remains opposed to an arms embargo on the country.

On the global refugee crisis, the U.S. president has been strong on rhetoric but short on action. A mere 10,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S., which is less than the 13,000 admitted by Singapore and far less than the 600,000 admitted to Germany.

The partisanship and gridlock that characterize U.S. domestic politics are responsible for some of Obama’s failures, particularly on closing Guantanamo, ratifying the CTBT, the Disabilities Convention, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But that aside, despite his charisma and likability, Obama has lacked leadership and decisiveness in confronting global challenges in what is still a U.S.-led world order.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

UN Votes to Begin Negotiations on a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

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August 23, 2016 – UN member states in Geneva last week voted to adopt a report that recommended the General Assembly begin negotiations in 2017 on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The report by the Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament (OEWG) recommended a conference “open to all States, with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

The OEWG was established following a General Assembly resolution in Dec. 2015 and the calls for a complete ban on nuclear weapons are supported by 107 UN member states.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction not banned by international treaty and proponents of a ban want a treaty to prohibit the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons.

While a majority of states want a ban, crucially, the nuclear weapons states along with NATO members and countries under a US defense umbrella are against a ban, citing their security.

All African, Latin American, Caribbean, and Pacific countries support a ban but support among Western and European countries is not nearly as strong, with many belonging to NATO. Among the Western and European countries to support a ban are Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Serbia and Ukraine.

There were 14 countries that were against the adoption of last week’s report: Australia, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, Lithuania, and South Korea.

In all, 138 countries voted to establish the working group last December.

Among the countries that abstained on last week’s vote are the Netherlands and Japan. The Netherlands hosts US nuclear weapons while Japan is under the nuclear umbrella.

Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, has long called for complete disarmament but has not yet come out in support of a complete ban. Other countries that have not outright called for a compete ban on nuclear weapons have suggested that a first step towards a complete ban should be a ban on the use of nuclear weapons.

The nine nuclear weapons states – Britain, France, China, US, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – did not participate in the OEWG.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Related:

Pope Francis Calls for Ban on Nuclear Weapons, Says Detterence an Affront to UN

NPT Conference Sparks Calls for New Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

Iran Denies Arms Transfers Cited in UN Report on Nuclear Deal

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July 18, 2016 – Ban Ki-moon said in his first report to the Security Council on the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal that he has received no information that nuclear related technology has been sold, transferred, or exported to Iran since the deal was implemented six months ago.

The report, discussed by the Council on Monday, did however contain information that a weapons shipment confiscated by the US Navy in March was bound for Yemen, in contravention of the agreement which bans Iran from exporting weapons for five years.

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Ban wrote that the United States seized the weapons in international waters off the Gulf of Oman after its naval forces boarded a dhow, the Adris, on March 28, 2016. The United States in its report to Ban said the weapons shipment was likely bound for Yemen.

In its response, Tehran denied that the shipment originated in Iran and stated that it never engaged in such activity.

The report also cites the launching of ballistic missiles by Iran in early March. Resolution 2231 bans Iran for eight years from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.

Screenshot 2016-07-18 at 4.05.23 PMOther concerns raised in the report include Iran’s participation in a weapons exhibit in Iraq. Iran claims that the weapons displayed remained in Iranian ownership despite having crossed an international border.

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The report also cites the travel of Major General Qasem Soleimani of the IRGC to Iraq in violation of a travel ban imposed by the Security Council. Iran says Soleimani was in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government during its Fallujah operation.

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For its part, Iran says it has yet to realize the benefits of the deal as its overseas assets are still frozen, that Iranian civilian aircraft are not given fuel at some EU destinations and that state and local governments in the US have sent threatening letters to foreign banks that invest in the Iranian energy sector.

The full report is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Pope Francis Calls for Ban on Nuclear Weapons, Says Deterrence an Affront to UN

Pope Francis addresses the seventieth session of the General Assembly.
Sept. 25, 2014 – Pope Francis on Friday told the nine nuclear weapon-wielding states, including the permanent five Security Council members, that their logic for possessing weapons of mass destruction is an affront to the mission of the United Nations.

Francis made the remarks during a wide ranging address to the General Assembly where he also called for a restructuring of the global financial system, responsible stewardship of the planet, and respect for the sacredness of human life.

The Holy See, which is party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has long held that the logic of nuclear deterrence is contrary to the progress of civilization and, more recently, expressed frustration during the NPT review conference that nuclear weapons states were not living up to their disarmament commitments.

In his remarks Friday, Francis noted that the preamble of the UN Charter and its first articles stress the peaceful resolution of disputes and friendly relations among nations.

“Strongly opposed to such statements, and in practice denying them, is the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass distraction, such as nuclear weapons,” he said. “An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations.”

He said that if states use deterrence as a reason to posess nuclear weapons then the United Nations would end up as “nations united by fear and distrust.”

“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons,” Pope Francis told the packed assembly, which included dozens of heads of state.

In addition to the five permanent members of the Council, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel all possess nuclear weapons.

There are some 18,000 nuclear weapons in the world, the vast majority held by Russia and the US.

The weapons are located in more than 100 sites in 14 countries, with US nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey and Italy. Some $100 billion is spent annually on maintaining these weapons.

While the Holy See has always called for nuclear disarmament, there was a time during the height of the Cold War that Pope John Paul II said “deterrence based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step along the way towards a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable.”

Pope Francis’s clear denunciation of the policy of deterrence in his speech on Friday is indicative, not just of the Vatican’s position, but that of the majority of UN member states. There’s wide agreement among non-nuclear states that the permanent five members of the Council view the NPT as a treaty that allows them to hold onto their weapons, even though disarmament is one of the three pillars of the treaty, along with non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

During the recent five-year review NPT conference, campaigners secured the signatures of 107 UN member states for a pledge that called for filling the legal gap prohibiting nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not banned by international treaty.

Absent from the list of 107 countries that signed the pledge were the nuclear weapons states and the 29 members of NATO.

In his closing remarks, Pope Francis said states can fulfill the promise of the United Nations, that future generations will not face the scourge of war, if they “set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good.”

- Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz

Related: NPT Conference Sparks Calls for New Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

Security Council Adopts Resolution Endorsing Iran Deal

The Security Council votes unanimously to endorse the Iran nuclear deal (photo: Russian Mission to UN)

The Security Council votes unanimously to endorse the Iran nuclear deal (photo: Russian Mission to UN)

July 20, 2015 – The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the E3+3 on non-proliferation. The terms of the agreement will be implemented 90 days after the adoption of this resolution. The full text of Resolution 2231 is below including, in Annex A, the JCPOA.

Iran Nonproliferation

Part 2 of resolution – List of individuals and entities (cont.).

A Guide to the Six UN Security Council Resolutions on Iran’s Nuclear Program

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July 13, 2015 – The UN Security Council has passed six resolutions against Iran over its nuclear program, specifically requesting that Tehran end uranium enrichment activities and comply with requests from the International Atomic Energy Association. Collectively, the resolutions impose an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

1. Resolution 1696 was passed in July 2006 in response to an IAEA report that Iran had not complied with its safeguards agreement. It was adopted with 14 countries in favor and one non-permanent member against, Qatar. The text called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and to comply with the IAEA, stating that otherwise the Council would impose punitive measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter. Article 41 allows for measures not involving the use of force, i.e. sanctions.

Full text of Resolution 1696

2. Resolution 1737 was passed in December 2006 in response to Iran’s failure to comply with Resolution 1696. The text imposed sanctions – in this case, an assets freeze – against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s nuclear program. Currently, there are 43 individuals and 78 entities on the sanctions list. The resolution also banned the sale, supply and transfer of designated nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1737

3. Resolution 1747 was passed in March 2007 and tightened the sanctions against Iran including preventing the export of arms from the country as well as adding individuals and entities to the list of those under an assets freeze. It also called on states to report to the Sanctions Committee the entry of certain individuals into their territory. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1747

4. Resolution 1803 was passed in March 2008 and for the first time imposed a travel ban on certain individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program. It also added to the list of individuals that states must report to the 1737 Committee if they enter into or transit through their territory. Fourteen countries voted for the resolution while non-permanent member Indonesia abstained.

Full text of Resolution 1803

5. Resolution 1835 was adopted in September 2008. Unlike the previous four resolutions it was not adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. It imposed no new measures against Tehran but reiterated the four previous resolutions and endorsed a statement from the president of the Security Council calling for an “early, negotiated solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1835

6. Resolution 1929 was adopted in June 2010 and tightened the arms embargo against Iran as well as expanding the list of individuals and entities subject to an asset freeze and travel ban. Non-permanent members Turkey and Brazil voted against the resolution while fellow non-permanent member Lebanon abstained.

Full text of Resolution 1929

NPT Conference Sparks Calls for New Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

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May 22, 2015 – The merits of a new treaty banning nuclear weapons have been debated over the past month in UN conference rooms during the five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which ends today in New York.

Among the reasons cited by advocates of a ban are the reluctance of nuclear armed states to meet their disarmament commitments and that nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not banned by treaty, with chemical and biological weapons covered under separate conventions.

But the biggest reason cited is new information on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. “We’re learning more every day as new documents become declassified and made available,” said Thomas Nash, director of the advocacy group Article 36. In some cases he said the research shows that “sheer luck has prevented the detonation of nuclear warheads.”

The growing information about the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons prompted an international conference in Oslo in 2013 on that very issue and concluded:

It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected… While political circumstances have changed, the destructive potential of nuclear weapons remains.

A follow-up conference in Vienna lead to what has become known as the Humanitarian Pledge, which calls for “effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and we pledge to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.”

“What’s happening now is that because of this deeper frustration at the lack of progress and the intransigence of countries with nuclear weapons, I think states are saying we’re not going to wait for you, we’re going to move forward on negotiations for a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons even without the nuclear armed states,” Article 36′s Nash said.

So far, 99 countries* have signed on to the pledge, which, as Nash acknowledges, does not outright call for an international treaty banning nuclear weapons but for “effective measures to fill the legal gap” prohibiting these weapons. He said the greatest pushback against the calls for a treaty for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons have come from the UK who have said that it would be “like a referendum on the NPT and that it would basically undermine the NPT.”

“It only undermines the NPT if you see the NPT as something that legitimizes your position on nuclear weapons and the problem is that that is precisely what countries inside the NPT with nuclear weapons see the NPT as,” Nash said. While the NPT prohibits non-nuclear weapons states from acquiring such weapons it also calls for the recognized nuclear powers to disarm – which is not happening.

“They think it’s a great treaty that allows them to keep their nuclear weapons. It gives them special status,” he said, adding that France, the US and the UK are engaged in revisionism arguing that the NPT is not about disarmament, it’s about non-proliferation – even though disarmament is one of the three pillars of the NPT along with non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

While it’s not clear if all of the 99 countries* that have so far signed the Austrian Pledge are in favor of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons or some other steps to fill the “legal gap,” what is clear is that the countries absent from the pledge are the nuclear armed states as well as NATO members and other countries that are in a security alliance with nuclear states.

Alyn Ware, a longtime disarmament campaigner and member of the World Future Council, said the calls for a treaty among like-minded countries for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons are understandable as the nuclear weapons states are not yet prepared to abolish nuclear weapons. Under this scenario, non-nuclear countries would negotiate a treaty without waiting for the nuclear armed states and those countries in nuclear-weapons alliances to join.

“Such a treaty could be concluded quite quickly” he said. “However, a problem is that it would only apply to those countries that join. It would not impact on the policies of the nuclear-armed states and their allies. Another problem with the proposal is that there does not appear to be even a majority of the non-nuclear countries in support. When the proposal was discussed in the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations, a number of non-aligned countries indicated that they would not support a treaty like this that placed new obligations on them, but no additional obligations on the nuclear armed states.”

“Another type of ban treaty, one that might have more impact, would be one banning the use of nuclear weapons as a measure leading towards nuclear disarmament. You could probably capture more of the allied countries, maybe even some of the nuclear weapons states, in such a treaty” he said. “India has already put forward a proposal to the United Nations General Assembly on negotiating a convention to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons. It is a much shorter, and more realizable, step from this position to a ban on use, than it is to jump immediately to a ban on possession.”

Ware pointed out that the global ban on chemical weapons started first with a ban on use, followed by negotiations to achieve the Chemical Weapons Convention banning possession.

But campaigners for an outright ban say it is the only credible option, particularly as the draft final document of the NPT review conference, which has yet to be agreed on, reflects the views of the nuclear weapons states and their allies.

While an earlier draft noted the the growing interest in the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the final draft now refers to a growing interest “among non-nuclear weapons states” in those consequences and raises doubts on other humanitarian concerns.

“It suggests that only non-nuclear-armed states and civil society learned anything about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons over the last three years and argues that it is only the perception of some states that there could be no adequate response to a nuclear weapon detonation,” Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will wrote on Friday about the final draft. “States truly committed to disarmament must say ‘enough is enough’ to the nuclear-armed states. As of writing, 99 states* have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. The pledge should be the basis for negotiations of a nuclear weapon ban treaty.”

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

*The Pledge has now been signed by 107 countries

NPT Conference to Open With Little Progress Made Since Last Review

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April 24, 2015 – The five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opens in New York on Monday but little has been accomplished in advancing the objectives of the treaty since the 2010 conference.

That review ended with agreement on a 64-point action plan on disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as agreement to hold a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

A new research publication from Reaching Critical Will states that of the 22 actions related to disarmament in the 2010 Action Plan, only five have seen definite progress as compared to 12 of 23 non-proliferation commitments and 11 of 18 related to nuclear energy.

“It has become clearer than ever during the course of this review cycle that the nuclear-armed states are not willing to fulfill their disarmament obligations or to take on any concrete, time-bound commitments that might assist with meeting their obligations,” the report states.

Meanwhile, the conference on creating a WMD weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, slated to be be held in Finland, never took place due to gaps in the positions of Arab states along with Iran and that of Israel.

Israel remains one of only four countries, along with Pakistan, India and South Sudan, not to have signed the NPT. North Korea was a signatory but has since withdrawn from the treaty. South Africa is the only country to have ever built nuclear weapons and then voluntarily destroyed them, which it did in the early 1990s. Libya abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

As a result of the intransigence of nuclear-weapons states with regard to fulfilling their obligations under the NPT, there is now support for negotiating a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.

“The 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—to be marked in August 2015—is widely seen as an ‘appropriate milestone’ by which to launch the diplomatic process to negotiate such a treaty,” Reaching Critical Will say in their report.

As it stands, nuclear-weapons states – Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States – possess approximately a combined 15,650 nuclear weapons and are in the process of modernizing their nuclear arsenal, a sure sign that disarmament is a long way off.

The NPT was opened for signatory in 1968 and came into force in 1970. A review conference is held every five years to assess progress. This year’s review conference will run from April 27 – May 22.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz