According to the United Nations website, NPT is a multilateral treaty with three objectives:
- Prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology;
- Promote co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
- Further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
This year’s conference drew widespread attention when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech on the first day. He called for “any threat to use nuclear weapons or attack against peaceful nuclear facilities” to be “a breach of international peace and security.” He also denied that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, claiming that its nuclear program is only for the purpose of producing energy, a purpose members of oil-rich states have been considering since 2005.
According to a BBC report, every signatory state in the treaty has the right to enrich uranium to be used as fuel for civil nuclear power. Those states are under the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which submits reports periodically, and as cases warrant, to the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly.
Iran was such a case, and was censured last year for secretly constructing a nuclear facility and defying U.N. resolutions on uranium enrichment. The BBC also reported that “technology used to enrich uranium for use as fuel for nuclear power can also be used to enrich the uranium to the higher level needed to produce a nuclear explosion.”
The New York Times reported that the United States is worried that an Iranian nuclear bomb may lead other Middle East countries to develop their own. The Times also reported that the Obama administration is “trying to entice Middle Eastern states out of enriching uranium for reactor fuel and later scavenging spent fuel for plutonium, a step known as reprocessing.” Both can be clandestine ways of making atom-bomb fuel since both are allowed under the treaty, the Times reported.
According to an agenda posted online by Reaching Critical Will, other topics to be discussed include the medical and environmental consequences of nuclear war, strategies to end NATO’s nuclear sharing, sustainable security and the 21st century, denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula and implementing the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.
Reaching Critical Will is a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom that “strives for the abolition of nuclear weapons.” It has posted the complete schedule for the 2010 review conference.
The NPT review conference is held every five years in New York.
Further reading: UN NPT section, Government statements for 2010 review conference and information from previous review conferences, (updated and maintained by Reaching Critical Will) BBC Q&A: Iran and the nuclear issue, New York Times article