Presentations and panel discussions at the Alliance’s sixth Annual Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation focused on four general themes:
- the future of multilateral non-proliferation regimes and initiatives,
- current regional proliferation threats and challenges,
- NATO’s contribution to international efforts in the area of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, and
- WMD terrorism.
This year’s special focus, however, was on the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which ended 28 May.
Promoting WMD non-proliferation
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen launched the event by way of a video message, emphasizing that it “demonstrates the importance of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation to peace and stability. It also underlines that efforts by the entire international community are needed to find effective solutions in this field.” NATO has identified terrorism and proliferation as key threats, he said, and it has already started to adapt policies and structures to address them.
At the conference’s opening session, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout reminded the participants that President Obama chose Prague for announcing his non-proliferation and disarmament agenda in April 2009. Prague also hosted the signing of the New START Treaty by the US and Russian presidents in April of this year.
“The Review Conference reaffirmed that the full and effective implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the regime of non-proliferation in all its aspects has a vital role in promoting international peace and security,” he said.
In his opening statement, the Special Envoy of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Zhigalov, stressed the role of regional organizations and initiatives in strengthening non-proliferation.
Participants came from NATO and partner countries in five continents, including from NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Asia-Pacific region. A number of international organizations and academic institutions were also represented.
This was the second NATO event of its kind to be held since the Alliance adopted its new Comprehensive, Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Defending Against Chemical, Biological and Nuclear (CBRN) Threats. The Policy was endorsed by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit in April 2009, then declassified and made public in September 2009.
Previous conferences on the challenges of WMD proliferation were held in Rome (2004), Sofia (2005), Vilnius (2007), Berlin (2008) and Warsaw (2009). Norway will host the next conference in 2011.