Nuclear Disarmament - PR to the Conference of Disarmament, Geneva

Nuclear Disarmament

"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."

This statement was first made in 1985 by the US and the USSR, and reaffirmed on 3 January 2022 by the 5 Nuclear Weapons States (P5) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The P5 indicated their commitment to the NPT obligations, including the Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
The Netherlands supports pragmatic, inclusive measures in order to reach these goals, such as transparency on nuclear armaments and obligations for nuclear disarmament. The following (proposed) treaties are the cornerstones for our multilateral approach on this subject.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is considered the centrepiece of global efforts with the objective to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The five recognised nuclear weapon States by the NPT – China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States – are all members to the Treaty, like most of the other UN Member States.

The Netherlands, together with 11 other states, is also a member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). NPDI advocates for practical and innovative ways to implement obligations of the NPT and its 2010 Action Plan.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions without distinction between military or peaceful purposes. Although 177 States have ratified the CTBT, the Treaty requires ratification of eight specific States before coming into force. 

The Netherlands is a staunch supporter of the Treaty, as it was under our chairpersonship that a final draft treaty was presented in 1996 to the CD. Although an overwhelming majority of the CD Member States endorsed the Treaty, no consensus could be reached on the adoption of the text. On the proposal of Australia, the draft treaty was submitted and thereafter adopted as a resolution in the UN General Assembly. This resolution also established a Commission to oversee and support Treaty implementation.

Fissile Material

Fissile Material is the most important raw material for nuclear weapons, i.e. highly-enriched uranium and plutonium. To prohibit the production of these materials, the CD has been aiming for several decades to negotiate a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). In 2014, a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) from 25 countries was established to make recommendations on negotiations for a FMCT. In October 2016, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee passed a resolution submitted by Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands on the establishment of a high-level preparatory group which has the mandate to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a treaty, banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

Although since then the General Assembly has regularly passed resolutions urging the CD to immediately commence negotiations on a treaty, disagreements among CD members on verification provisions have prevented further substantive negotiations on the FMCT.