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Russia blocks nuclear treaty agreement over Ukraine reference

  • Published
    29th Aug, 2022
Context

Russia has blocked the adoption of a joint declaration by a United Nations conference on nuclear disarmament.

About
  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is reviewed by its 191 signatories every five years.
  • It aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • The final document needed the approval of all countries at the conference that are parties to the treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving a world without them.
Under the NPT's provisions, the five original nuclear powers — the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain, and France — agreed to negotiate toward eliminating their arsenals someday and nations without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire them in exchange for a guarantee to be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Second failure:

  • The NPT review conference is supposed to be held every five years but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This marked the second failure of its 191 state parties to produce an outcome document. The last review conference in 2015 ended without an agreement because of serious differences over establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Those differences haven't gone away but are being discussed. So, this was not viewed as a major stumbling block this year.
  • The issue that changed the dynamics of the conference was Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which brought Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning that Russia is a “potent” nuclear power and that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences”.
  • Although later, he rolled back by saying thata nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

Global fears of nuclear emergency

  • But Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine as well as the takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear plant renewed global fears of another nuclear emergency.
  • Last week, the Zaporizhzhia plant was temporarily disconnected from the power grid, raising fears of a possible radiation disaster.
  • The draft final document recognizes Ukraine's loss of control and the International Atomic Energy Agency's inability to ensure the plant's nuclear material is safeguarded. It has also expressed grave concern for military activities.

Concern over Zaporizhzhia and other nuclear Facilities in Ukraine:

  • Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Nonaligned Movement comprising 120 developing countries, expressed disappointment at the failure.
  • European Union has reaffirmed its unwavering support for Ukraine and condemned Russia's dangerous nuclear rhetoric actions.
  • The NPT has been failing for a long time because it is essentially used by nuclear-armed states to reinforce the validity that they attach to nuclear weapons.
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