by Rebecca Johnson
3.40. The NPT Plenary finally gets underway in the GA at 3.30 pm and by 3.40 the President, Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines had gavelled down acceptance of the most substantive, forward-looking part of its draft final document (see p 17 onwards, which contains the action plans on nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and nuclear energy as well as the Middle East) and took note of the review part as the President’s reflection to the best of his knowledge of what transpired as the contents of the review, which is issued as a separate document under the Chairs auspices and recorded in a footnote to the final document. Lots of applause in the room, huge sense of relief, and now lots of speeches.
The forward looking action plans contain many commitments to pursue nuclear disarmament actions, with the nuclear weapons convention as a way forwards, as proposed by the UN Secretary General. Egypt speaking on behalf of NAM now — very positive. Egypt has played its hand brilliantly through this conference and deserves to feel very proud of how its leadership (headed by Amb Maged AbdelAziz) has contributed to this outcome. Similarly, the Obama administration, with NPT chief Amb Susan Burk has worked tirelessly for this success, making many difficult compromises in difficult situations which should not be underestimated.
Many governments and civil society have played very important roles in making this possible.
Egypt on behalf of NAM, Lebanon on behalf of Arab League, Spain on behalf of EU have all congratulated Cabactulan and are now saying how important this outcome is. Egypt particularly underscored the agreement on the Middle East and on nuclear disarmament, including the nuclear weapons convention and paid tribute to role of civil society. US now speaking. I will write more when i have more time, but as only Egypt issued a written text I need to take notes of the speeches. But wanted to get the news out.
3.30 pm Friday, NPT Conference Plenary finally gets underway
3.05 pm Friday The NPT Review Conference gathered but was not able to convene its plenary at 11.00 am Friday, and I am now sitting at the back of the General Assembly hall waiting for the 3.00 pm plenary to get started. This will be the very last chance for the NPT to adopt a document reflecting the outcome of what has been a very substantive and generally collegial review conference.
When we arrived this morning, it was to confirmation that all sides were prepared to accept the commitments to make progress on implementing the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, including the conference in 2012 and a facilitator to carry forward the process and follow-on steps in fulfillment of these commitments. UN media had reported that Iran had told a press conference on Thursday that it intended to block adoption of the outcome, but overnight it had been made clear to Iran that the Non-Aligned and Arab States and also nuclear disarmament civil society considered that this final outcome document was worth getting, and that no-one else would obstruct and no-one would support if Iran blocked. With only one Iranian delegate in the room, everyone was rumour-mongering that new instructions were being sought. So the plenary was postponed to this afternoon. The worry now is not to run out of time.