Officials met in Sydney on Monday for a two-day meeting to discuss the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, which some have considered to be in a weak state since the last renewal of the treaty terms in 2005. Earlier this year, on an overseas trip, Australian Prime minister, Kevin Rudd announced moves to try and get the treaty back on a healthy footing.
Officials worry that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty could become irrelevant
Co-chaired by Yoriko Kawaguchi, a former Japanese foreign minister, and former Australian foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans, the two-day meeting to put some life back into the ailing treaty started on Monday in Sydney.
Former US defence secretary William Perry, and former Indonesian foreign minister, Ali Alatas are also among the high-profile group of commissioners and officials.
Other countries attending include Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan and China.
Weak and irrelevant?
Some observers say that the standing treaty, which has to be renewed every five years, has in the last decade been in danger of becoming weak and irrelevant.
Negotiations in 2005 were bogged down for several weeks over disagreement on an official agenda.
Earlier this year, during a visit to China and South Korea, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced measures to establish an international commission on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, saying it would try to shape a global consensus in the lead up to the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review.
Limiting the spread of nuclear weapons
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was first negotiated and ratified in 1970 by the US, the USSR, China, Britain & France -- the world’s five official nuclear powers.
The goal was to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to those states only.
Since then, other countries are known to have come into possession of nuclear weapons, such as India, Pakistan and Israel.
Risk of civil nuclear technologies
Many worry that the spread of the acquisition of civil nuclear technologies means that it is becoming much easier for smaller nations to push ahead with nuclear weapons construction programs.
“It will never be really easy to do but once you master a certain degree of nuclear technology and you have advanced technology of the sort that the US had in the mid-1940s, you can jump the hurdle more easily. So we live in a world of increasing latency,” said Dr Rod Lyon from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Monday urging that measures be taken.
A few observers in Australia dismissed the meeting as a political points-gaining stunt on the part of the Rudd government.