January 2013 E-News

Happy new year to all of our colleagues and supporters! It’s starting to seem that 2013 will be almost as busy as 2012—the first few months of the year are full of regular annual meetings and new events. While the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is set to begin another session next week, interest is mounting over the possibilities of the General Assembly’s open-ended working group that will convene throughout the session. And before we get the next nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) preparatory committee in April, governments and civil society will be coming together in Oslo to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and in New York to continue negotiations of an arms trade treaty (ATT).

Information on all of these events is provided in this edition of the E-News and more will be forthcoming on our website. In addition to our work surrounding these meetings, Reaching Critical Will is soon to release two new publications. One is intended to serve as input to the Oslo meetings on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, while the other will be an update to our NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details about both publications.

We look forward to working with all of you throughout the year. If you rely on RCW’s information services or appreciate the work we do to bring you timely analysis on international disarmament initiatives, please consider helping sustain our programme—information on a variety of donation methods is available on our website. All amounts are appreciated!

In peace,
Ray Acheson, Director

In this edition:

Preparing for the 2013 NPT PrepCom

The Second Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will meet from 22 April–3 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The aide memoire for NGO participation will be released by the UN soon; in the meantime, some information is available on the Reaching Critical Will website. If you cannot find an answer to your question on the website or in the E-News, please email ray[at]reachingcriticalwill.org.


Conference on Disarmament set to begin again

The first part of the Conference on Disarmament (CD)’s 2013 session will begin on 21 January and continue until 29 March. Last year, the CD marked its fifteenth year without substantive action its agenda. The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane described it as a setback in the effort to advance global disarmament goals, in particular the elimination of nuclear weapons.

In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted several resolutions related to advancing some of the items on the CD’s agenda and 2013 will be an opportunity to pursue those, including: an open-ended working group to discuss proposals for achieving nuclear disarmament and a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament.

Once again, Reaching Critical Will is prepared to monitor the CD’s work, providing analysis of plenary meetings and the open-ended working group as appropriate. Subscribe to receive the CD Report via email; read statements and other primary documents on our website; and check out our soon-to-be updated Guide to the CD.


Attending the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations

The second UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will convene at UN Headquarters in New York City from 18–28 March 2013. The Chair of the conference will be Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia.

NGO participation

Please read the aide memoire for NGO participation. NGOs that have not participated in previous ATT conferences must apply for accreditation by 31 January 2013. All NGO representatives from accredited organizations, whether or not they have participated in the past, must pre-register online by 8 March 2013.

RCW resources

At the next round of negotiations, Reaching Critical Will and partners will continue to produce the ATT Monitor with daily analysis and information. Subscribe now to ensure you receive this valuable resource during the conference.

Other resources include:


Humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons up for discussion in Oslo

The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons will be the topic of conversation in Oslo this March. The government of Norway is hosting an international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons from 4-5 March 2013. That conference should see greater recognition that the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon use would be unacceptable, and we hope it will inspire states to begin the work of outlawing these weapons.

To demonstrate that banning nuclear weapons is both possible and urgently needed, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will host a Civil Society Forum on 2-3 March 2013. Hundreds of people from around the world have been invited to give inspiring speeches, informative workshops, and engage in lively discussions. Registration to the Civil Society Forum is now open!

Reaching Critical Will staff will be at the conference and will post more information and documents here as they become available. RCW is also preparing a publication to be released ahead of the conference: stay tuned for details.


Upcoming Events

GGE on information and telecommunications security
14–18 January 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Conference on Disarmament 2013, Part One
21 January–29 March 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

International Experts Meeting on Decommissioning and Remediation after a Nuclear Accident
28 January–1 February 2013 | Vienna, Austria

United Nations/Japan Conference on Disarmament Issues
30 January–1 February 2013 | Shizuoka, Japan

UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, 59th Session
27 February–1 March 2013 | New York, USA

Featured News

US use of drones comes under increasing attack while drones technology proliferates
Legal experts and activists have expressed concern and outrage about the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA due to his role as a key architect of the US drone programme. Former Obama security advisory Michael Boyle argued that the United States’ use of drones is counter-productive, not as effective as the administration claims, and is “encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent.” Meanwhile, China and Japan have escalated a drone race as tension increases over disputed islands in the region. The Guardian reports that China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the United States. In addition, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has requested to use unarmed drones for its mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Civil society meets to discuss a WMD free zone in the Middle East
While the intergovernmental meeting mandated by the 2010 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to discuss the creation of a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East failed to convene in December, about forty representatives of non-governmental organizations met in Helsinki anyway to discuss the matter. Frustrated at what some perceived as an indefinite postponement of the UN conference, “the participants sought to find innovative ways to put pressure on governments to convene the conference as soon as possible.” Read more in the report from IPPNW Germany campaigner Xanthe Hall.

Norwegian oil fund excludes nuclear weapon producers
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced that Babcock ! & Wilcox Co. (BWC) and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (JEC) have been excluded from the portfolio of Norway’s $698 billion sovereign wealth fund, or oil fund, because the companies were involved in the production of nuclear weapons. The ministry found that Babcock & Wilcox operates facilities producing fissile material for nuclear warheads, while Jacobs Engineering Group is part of a company developing, producing and maintaining nuclear weapons. The fund’s ethical guidelines state that the fund should not invest in companies producing weapons that are in conflict with humanitarian principles. The Norwegian parliament has decided that his includes nuclear weapons.

President Obama signs bill authorizing construction of new plutonium facility
The US National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, signed by the President on 3 January, attempts to force construction of a huge plutonium lab at Los Alamos. It authorizes spending on the project but does not provide any funds for this purpose. As previously documented by the Los Alamos Study Group, construction of this lab is opposed by the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the White House, and the military. President Obama had previously threatened to veto the bill over this and other provisions, though his signing statement did not refer to the project.

Recommended Reading

Ward Wilson, “The Myth of Nuclear Necessity,” New York Times, 13 January 2013

German Weapons for the World: How the Merkel Doctrine Is Changing Berlin Policy,” Der Spiegel, 3 December 2012

John Burroughs, “How Reliance on Nuclear Weapons Erodes and Distorts International Law and Global Order,” Cadmus, 5 November 2012

M.V. Ramana, The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, 2012