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The Nuclear Power TRAP

By       Message Diane Perlman     Permalink
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On the 40th year of the UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), delegates from the states parties to the treaty met at UN headquarters in New York from May 3 28, 2010, for the eighth five year NPT Review Conference.

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Representing Civil Society at the NPT

Active members of nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, from many countries, came to the "NPT RevCon" to represent the interests of civil society. Among them were participants in the Abolition Caucus, a group of knowledgeable NGOs devoted to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

NGOs participate by observing open official meetings, conducting informal meetings with delegates, presenting information to each other and delegates at side events, and inviting delegates for off-the-record briefings. Many activities are organized by Reaching Critical Will, RCW,, who produce a daily newsletter, News in Review, a rich source of communication eagerly read by many delegates and NGOs.

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At each NPT, the NGOs are given three hours to present to the delegates on a wide range of subjects communicating the urgency and feasibility of eliminating nuclear weapons. Presentations, organized by RCW, included Nobel Prize laureate Jody Williams, a Hibakusha, Nagasaki bomb survivor, youth representatives from Ban All Nukes Generation (BANg), plus statements on the illegality of nuclear weapons, challenges to deterrence theory, the dangers of nuclear power and more.

Article IV and the IAEA

The NPT was organized around a significant role for the International Atomic Energy Association, the IAEA, which promotes nuclear energy. Article IV of the NPT claims an "inalienable right" to "peaceful uses" of nuclear energy. It is called the "third pillar" (language not in the actual treaty) of the NPT, along with the nonproliferation and disarmament. These phrases are uttered incessantly throughout speeches and discussions.

On May 20, the Abolition Caucus delivered a statement to the NPT delegates stating serious concerns about the May 14 Report of Main Committee III, the body assigned to address nuclear energy, the "third pillar," which made "glowing" claims about nuclear power's benefits for energy, the environment, health, the economy, and Millennium Development Goals.

NGOS vs. Delegates Parallel Universes?

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Abolition Caucus NGOs are alarmed at the dangers and proliferation risks in the face of delegates' overwhelming enthusiasm and promotion of nuclear power. Why the huge discrepancy?

Most NPT delegates automatically repeat the mantras the "inalienable right" to "peaceful uses" of nuclear energy as "the third pillar" throughout most speeches. The belief in nuclear power is so deeply and widely held that it may seem outrageous to even question it.

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Visiting Scholar Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution George Mason University
Diane Perlman is a clinical and political psychologist, devoted to applying knowledge from psychology, conflict studies and social sciences to designing strategies and policies to reverse nuclear proliferation, to drastically reduce terrorism, (more...)

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