Disarmament blog: the P5 meet in London


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Aidan Liddle

UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

21st February 2020 Geneva, Switzerland

Disarmament blog: the P5 meet in London

Last week saw a major milestone in preparations for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in April, when the five NPT Nuclear Weapon States met at Lancaster House in London for their ninth annual ‘P5’ conference.

We began the Conference by welcoming the new RevCon President-designate, Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina, and the chairs of the three Main Committees, collectively known as the Bureau. It was useful to hear more about what they thought the key issues for the RevCon would be, what a successful outcome might look like, and what they thought the P5 could do to help achieve it.

In the afternoon, we continued the P5 Conference tradition of a civil society segment. This one was bigger and better than ever: thanks to our partners at King’s College London and the European Leadership Network, the room was full, with almost 80 civil society participants from all five Nuclear Weapon States and 16 other countries. In a lively series of breakout groups, civil society participants engaged directly with members of the P5 delegations on some of the most important issues facing the NPT, not just in this review cycle, but looking ahead to the next. This element is now firmly embedded in the P5 Conference format, and an important contribution to transparency in the NPT.

Following a dinner for the leaders of the P5 delegations, we reconvened the next day in P5-only format to discuss the particular contribution the Nuclear Weapon States could make to the success of the RevCon. That was an opportunity to review the work that has been going on in various working groups over the past few months, not least on nuclear doctrines, the fissile material cut-off treaty, and the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. In particular, heads of delegation were able to agree that we would hold a joint side event on peaceful uses of nuclear technology as well as the one already announced on nuclear doctrines, that we would publish Phase 2 of our Glossary of Key Nuclear Terms, and that we would all present national reports at the RevCon.

The P5 will keep working on all these deliverables up to the RevCon. They also agreed that our work on nuclear doctrines and strategic risk reduction should continue beyond the RevCon – a recognition that these will continue to be important issues for the next review cycle.

The next milestone is the 50th anniversary of the NPT’s entry into force, which is being marked with a high-level conference in New York on 5 March. After that, there will only be seven weeks to go until the RevCon itself. There’s lots of work to do to get ready.

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