The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament welcomed the significant progress made during the first week of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) talks, currently ongoing in New York. State representatives at the Preparatory Committee to next year’s major Review Conference agreed an agenda for the first time in a decade, a significant achievement in large part due to the greatly improved approach of the US delegation.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Serious progress at next year’s Review Conference is vital to ensuring both disarmament of long-held nuclear arsenals and preventing the creation of any new ones. Agreeing a substantive agenda at this early stage gives hope that the change in mood flowing from Obama’s call for disarmament will be followed through into considerable gains at the 2010 talks – both warhead cuts and diplomatic frameworks for ensuring further progress.”

She continued, “Britain must play its full part in ensuring progress towards a safer world with fewer nuclear weapons. Gordon Brown has said Trident would be on the table ‘as soon as it becomes useful’ – and it will be useful at next year’s negotiations. A bold move by Britain, such as ending continuous patrols by Trident and suspending work on its replacement would be a huge boost to global efforts.”

CND also welcomed the inclusion of a review of the ’13 Practical Steps’ that the nuclear-weapon states agreed to undertake at the last successful review conference in 2000, which includes support for the aim of eliminating all nuclear weapons and the strengthening of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which Bush withdrew from in order to pursue missile defence.

In another significant change of tone, Rose Gottemoeller, the US assistant secretary of state for arms control noted that “universal adherence to the NPT itself – including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – also remains a fundamental objective of the United States.” This statement, explicitly calling on Israel to join the NPT regime, which it would have to do as a non-nuclear weapon state, is a marked change in policy from that of the Bush administration, which effectively allowed Israel to retain the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.