UNODA and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan co-organized the 2023 Nuclear Discussion Forum titled “Prospects for the current review cycle of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”

November 1st, 2023

On 27 October 2023, the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs co-organized the 2023 Nuclear Discussion Forum titled “Prospects for the current review cycle of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” The meeting saw opening remarks from Ambassador Akan Rakhmetullin, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations and Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. The panel comprised of Ambassador Aidan Liddle, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament, Mr. Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, and Dr. Waheguru Pal Singh of New York University.  

Ambassador Rakhmetullin delivering opening remarks at the event.  

The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs expressed concern that while the NPT will remain the locus of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, challenges such as on accountability for nuclear disarmament commitments, show wide the divides between NPT States Parties have become. She stated that the reaffirmation and implementation of existing commitments on nuclear disarmament, and the strengthened accountability for those commitments are paramount. These must be coupled with the full universalization of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and ensuring that the IAEA has the human and financial resources to carry out its expanding safeguards responsibilities. State Parties should also consider how the Treaty could address rapidly evolving security challenges emerging from the nexus between nuclear weapons and emerging domains such as cyber and outer space, and through potentially destabilizing technologies such as artificial intelligence. They should also further consider how peaceful uses of nuclear technology could advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Finally, she stressed that steps must be taken to strengthen the review process of the Treaty. The High Representative’s full remarks can be accessed here.  

The panel and the discussion that followed focused on priorities for the review cycle. Many speakers regretted that the Tenth Review Conference in 2022 could not agree on a final outcome document and stressed the need for a successful outcome from the 2026 Review Conference. The draft outcome document of the Tenth Review Conference could be further used as a starting point for future work.  

The impact of the current geopolitical context on the Treaty was acknowledged. Some participants also recalled the joint P5 statement of January 2022, which reaffirmed that a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” It was also noted that the challenging geopolitical situation should not halt global nuclear disarmament efforts. It is precisely during these challenging times that common ground should be sought. 

Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu provided the opening remarks. 

The need to reaffirm and accelerate the implementation of existing disarmament commitments was strongly emphasized. The principles of nuclear disarmament verification, irreversibility and transparency were raised as crucial aspects of this goal. A view was expressed that the complete abolition of nuclear weapons would entail a reform of the institutions involved. 

In stressing the importance of the balanced implementation of the NPT’s three pillars, participants discussed the need to ensure access to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. In this regard, while some noted the need to ensure greater access to nuclear technology, others also noted the need to ensure that nuclear technology and materials are not misused or diverted. 

Finally, States Parties were encouraged to seek linkages with other processes such as the Summit for the Future and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Ambassador Rakhmetullin of Kazakhstan will serve as the Chair-designate of the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2026 Review Conference of Parties to the NPT, which will take place in Geneva in 2024. 

The panel was followed by questions from the audience.