Day 16: Interim updates on Committees II and III

posted by Rebecca Johnson, with input from Meena Singelee

Main Committee II is close to consensus on most issues, but as the Chair, Ambassador Volodyrmyr Yelchenko (Ukraine) noted in his interim report back to the plenary yesterday, there are a few issues where proposals on the table are mutually exclusive.  With the exception of the Middle East, where intensive negotiations are continuing (principally between the United States/P-5 and Egypt/Arab League), these appear to be how to characterise the Additional Protocol and export controls.

Update on Committee III (nuclear energy etc)

With regard to MCIII, which is continuing its deliberations, I am indebted to the Acronym Institute’s junior associate Meena Singelee for her notes which inform the following summary.  Ambassador Takeshi Nakane of Japan, Chair of the Committee is hoping for a final draft by this Friday. Although there are less heated exchanges in MCIII than in the others, the differences in positions among some parties are still visible. The NAM continues to stress that the report should emphasise support for the transfer of nuclear materials for peaceful uses in a non-discriminatory manner and in conformity with the NPT. Egypt called for wording to include that every effort should be made to ensure that IAEA resources for technical cooperation should be sufficient, assured and predictable (SAP). States including Germany continue to call for language on the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, i.e. nuclear waste.

On the issue of multilateralisation of nuclear fuel cycle facilities, parties continue to emphasise the need to ensure that all undertakings will be voluntary and that access will be guaranteed, in line with the legal obligations under the NPT. Indonesia suggested that since the idea of a multinational fuel bank is still in early stages of discussion, and both technically and legally complex, it would not be in the interest of the Review Conference to delve deeper into the issue. Indonesia suggested that instead of including this in a final document, the Conference could consider making a political statement on the issue. Egypt and the NAM continue to emphasise language relating to transfer and conformity without discrimination among parties. The United States however, highlighted that any nuclear supplier would need to look at broader questions which it seemed to consider did not necessarily relate to the NPT, before deciding to export nuclear materials or equipment to an NPT party, mentioning the level of security, the level of enrichment or reprocessing, or overriding concerns about transfers to third parties.

A telling sign that consensus on some of the issues ought to be reachable is that the interactions among and between state parties have been courteous, engaged and productive. National statements have now few and far between, and all interactions, have been focused specifically to changes or amendments to language of the draft text.

Some states, including the UK, which intervened for the first time in MCIII on Wednesday, argued that language on the Middle East, whilst relevant,  would be best placed in an overview passage rather than in the MCIII section. Other areas such as withdrawal and institutional issues are still being dealt with by the Subsidiary Body 3.

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