NPT Conference Goes Past Deadline into Saturday

Published May 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went past deadline into Saturday with the United States and Iraq deadlocked on the single remaining obstacle to consensus. 

Conference chairman Abdallah Baali stopped the clock just before midnight (0400 GMT) telling delegates they still had work to do. 

He did not give a time for reconvening the session. 

The conference, which began on April 24, was the first review since 1995, when countries, which had signed the 1970 treaty, agreed to extend it indefinitely. 

Only two of the five previous review conferences managed to agree on a final declaration. 

Baali told AFP late Friday that Iraq rejected any language, which said it was not in compliance with international nuclear energy safeguards. 

The United States wanted the wording as a condition for naming Israel and encouraging it to sign the NPT. 

Israel, India, Pakistan and Cuba are the only countries not to have signed the NPT, which seeks to prohibit the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the five declared nuclear states. 

Earlier, delegates had hailed as a breakthrough an agreement by the five declared nuclear-weapons states to "an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish total elimination of their nuclear arsenals." 

The wording would be incorporated into the final declaration if one were adopted. 

Although it set no timetable, the agreement went beyond a commitment to "the ultimate goal" of nuclear disarmament, which the five had reaffirmed in a joint statement on May 1 and which was rejected by most other countries. 

The agreement contained six steps for weapons states to embark upon. 

These included moves to reduce their arsenals, remove tactical weapons, lower the alert levels of nuclear missiles and diminish the importance of nuclear deterrence in policy-making - UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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