Following multiple postponements over the past two years, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s (NPT) Tenth Review Conference (RevCon) is finally underway, having held its opening session on August 1. States parties to the NPT will convene until August 26 to discuss progress and implementation of the NPT against a backdrop of heightened global instability and the breakdown of key arms control agreements in recent years. Following the failure of the 2015 RevCon to reach a final consensus document, there are a number of challenges ahead for the upcoming Conference, which also have particular implications for Middle East security and the future of the regional nonproliferation order. Among the most significant of these issues member states will debate will likely include the following:
-The uneven emphasis on the nonproliferation and disarmament pillars of the Treaty, and the perception by non-nuclear weapon states of lack of substantial progress on disarmament.
-Reconciling the recent entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and member states’ perceptions on how it may further or hinder the objectives of the NPT.
-Inability to reach agreement on the way forward for the establishment of a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (ME WMDFZ), and how the process and outcomes to date of the UN-mandated conference on the ME WMDFZ may contribute to deliberations at the RevCon.
-Failure for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to enter into force, 25 years after it opened for signature, and the implications this has for the NPT in general, and the WMDFZ in particular.
-The need to emphasize and reiterate the inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as enshrined in Article IV of the NPT, which has been questioned due to nuclear energy’s risks for safety and security, and criticized as an ineffective solution to climate change.
The coming weeks will undoubtedly have some instances of contention, and despite the bleak outlook held by some observers, there is still hope that the outcomes of the Conference will prove to be constructive and uphold the NPT as one of the cornerstones of the global nonproliferation regime.