Russia has obstructed the adoption of a joint declaration by a United Nations nuclear disarmament conference. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is reviewed every five years by its 191 signatories, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Russia objected to a draught text that expressed “grave concern” about military activities near Ukraine’s nuclear plants, particularly in Zaporizhzhia. Participants in the previous review in 2015 were also unable to reach an agreement.
The 2022 meeting, which was supposed to take place in 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A four-week conference in New York ended in failure to reach an agreement on a joint declaration. Foreign Minister Penny Wong of Australia expressed “deep disappointment” at the lack of agreement.
“Russia obstructed progress by refusing to compromise on the proposed text, which was accepted by all other states,” she explained. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, the US representative, stated that the US “deeply regrets this outcome, and even more so Russia’s actions that brought us here today.”
Russia objected to a section of the text that expressed “grave concern” about military activities near Ukrainian power plants, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which Russia seized early in the Ukrainian conflict. The draught section also mentioned “the competent Ukrainian authorities’ loss of control over such locations as a result of those military activities, and their profound negative impact on safety.” Igor Vishnevetsky, Russia’s representative, said the draught final text lacked “balance.”
All participating nations had to agree to the final document. Many nations, including China and the Netherlands, expressed disappointment that no agreement had been reached.
Despite being “very disappointed” that a consensus could not be reached, the Dutch said they were “satisfied with the useful discussions.” Nevertheless, the process was “an important practise of common security and genuine multilateralism,” according to China’s ambassador.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons expressed regret that “nearly all countries in the world failed to take action on nuclear disarmament in a year when a nuclear-armed state invaded a non-nuclear armed state,” and the Washington-based Arms Control Association said the conference was a “missed opportunity to strengthen the treaty and global security.”
The Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was signed by 190 nations in 1970 and includes the US, Russia, France, the UK, and China, requires signatories to reduce their stockpiles and forbids others from acquiring nuclear weapons. Last week, there were concerns about a potential radiation disaster after the Zaporizhzhia plant was briefly cut off from the power grid.
The largest nuclear power plant in Europe was taken over by the Russian military in early March, but Ukrainian employees are still managing it under challenging circumstances. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, is anticipated to arrange a trip to the Zaporizhzhia plant in the coming days to inspect the facilities there.