Reading Room

Tri-Valley CAREs and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

Tri-Valley CAREs has received accreditation to participate as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, to be held May 3-28 at the United Nations in New York. The group will be represented by its executive director, Marylia Kelley, and long-time member Joanne Dean-Freemire.

"We are going to NY to stand with our colleagues in the international community against all nuclear bombs everywhere, to educate the diplomats about the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and arsenal, and to influence the outcome of the Review Conference so that it better holds the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states' feet to the fire to achieve genuine disarmament," explained Kelley. "In sum, we are lifting up our voices and using our particular expertise in order to help change the world."

The NPT is the "cornerstone" of the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime. Every five years, the states parties that are signatory to the treaty come together to evaluate its progress and obstacles, including toward disarmament.

This will be the first Review Conference since the election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency, and its outcome may determine how much pressure, or how little, the U.S. feels from the non-nuclear weapons states of the world to get on with the business of actual disarmament.

Will this conference end in disarray, as happened in 2005? Will half-measures be the lukewarm outcome? Or, will the states parties rise to the occasion and undertake substantive movement toward the promise (and legal obligation) of the NPT, that the "horrific prospect of nuclear war... be avoided" and that nuclear weapons be completely and irreversibly abolished? It is to the latter outcome that your Tri-Valley CAREs team is dedicated.

We will carry the more than 1,000 nuclear abolition petitions that you, our members, signed and sent us. They will be delivered along with the 5 million petitions gathered from around the world, with the majority coming from Japan.

While in NY, we will participate in the huge NGO conference at the Riverside Church (where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "Beyond Vietnam" speech) before the NPT review. Tri-Valley CAREs and colleagues will conduct a workshop on the paradox of the nuclear weapons states' obligations under the NPT to disarm and their current plans to "modernize" their nuclear weapons complexes. And we are pleased to learn that the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon will address the NGO conference at its conclusion on Saturday night.

On Sunday, your Tri-Valley CAREs team will carry our banner in a major march to the UN and international peace rally. On Monday, bright and early, we will be at the UN to get our badges and begin a week of talking to foreign ministers and diplomats about nuclear weapons and the need for concrete steps toward abolition. And, on Tuesday, we will participate in a second panel for diplomats and NGOs, this one centered on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and sponsored by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

While the Review Conference continues through the month of May, your Tri-Valley CAREs hopes to accomplish its ambitious goals by focusing on key diplomats during the first week, and then following up by mail, email and phone. We will also bring our reports and literature, including our analysis of the U.S. nuclear weapons budget request and the Nuclear Posture Review.

The Review Conference is truly a golden opportunity to change the world by strengthening the nonproliferation and disarmament regime that undergirds the NPT commitments. It is useful to recall that the NPT is the most universal arms control treaty in history. Since opening for signatories in 1968, 190 states parties have joined, representing nearly every nation on earth (notable exceptions are Israel, India and Pakistan, with North Korea announcing its withdrawal in 2003). The treaty entered into force in 1970.

There is still much to do. We are nowhere near the global nuclear disarmament promised by the NPT. But, if we look carefully, we can see it from here. And, if we act together, we will get there.