UNITED NATIONS — The final preparatory conference for next year's review of the landmark 1970 agreement aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear arms ended Friday without agreement on final recommendations.
Peruvian Ambassador Enrique Roman-Morey, the conference chair, blamed a lack of time for negotiations — not a lack of political will.
But he told a news conference after the two-week conference ended that the pace of disarmament by the nuclear weapon states "is a problem" and the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East "is also a very big issue."
By contrast, Roman-Morey said there were not many problems on issues related to nuclear security and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
He said he will present the proposed recommendations that were not agreed on to the May 2015 review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in his own name as chair, to serve as a basis for future negotiations.
The NPT, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts, aims to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.
It requires non-nuclear signatory nations not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five nuclear powers to move toward nuclear disarmament. It also guarantees non-nuclear states access to peaceful nuclear technology to produce nuclear power.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said the conference failed to "jumpstart" action on disarmament or a weapons-free Mideast zone.
He said none of the nuclear weapon states has taken concrete steps to fulfil the states' commitment at the last NPT review conference in 2010 to "diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons."
Instead, he said, "all of the world's nuclear weapons states are busy modernizing their arsenals."
If the NPT is to remain viable, Kimball said, the nuclear weapon states must follow through on their commitments.
"Creative, bold approaches will be needed to accelerate action on nuclear disarmament and to curb proliferation in the Middle East and Asia," Kimball said.
One recommendation discussed this week called for accelerated actions by the nuclear weapon states toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Roman-Morey said too many nuclear weapons remain in the hands of the five nuclear powers, and he urged the nuclear weapon states to "disarm in a more verifiable and transparent way than they are showing us."
At the 2010 review conference, the 189 member nations that are party to the NPT also called for convening a conference in 2012 "on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction."
It was scheduled to take place in Finland in late 2012, but the United States announced it would be delayed, apparently to save Israel, which is widely believed to possess a nuclear arsenal, though it has never confirmed having nuclear weapons.
The recommendations this week called for convening the conference this year.
Roman-Morey said he personally believes "it is going to be held before the end of this year," noting that the Russian delegate mentioned December.
Iran, Israel and Arab states have taken part in several informal meetings attended by veteran Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava, who is serving as facilitator of the proposed Mideast conference.
Roman-Morey said Laajava and the conveners of that conference — Britain, the United States and Russia — will host further informal meetings focusing on preparations for it, including its agenda.
Asked how NPT parties envision disarming Israel of its reported nuclear weapons in order to create a nuclear-free zone, he replied: "That's a question of a million dollars."