Jeffrey LewisA bad couple of days for arms control …

Today, two pieces of terrible news for the arms control community and, more generally, anyone serious about discouraging the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

First, the United States collapsed the NPT Prepcom. The third nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (NPT PrepCom) meeting for the 2005 NPT Review Conference (RevCon) — which Greenpeace calls “dull as dirty dishwater” — is the biennial set of preparatory meetings for the NPT Review Conferences (which is held every five years). The United States blocked resumption of the PrepCom (which failed to reconvene in order to formally adjourn) and then blocked the chair from issuing a consensus document summarizing the meeting.

The reason for our intransigence is that a majority of delegations wanted to refer to the 2000 Review Conference, when the United States joined the international community in calling for 13 steps to demonstrate good faith in our Article VI obligation to pursuse nuclear disarmament (The steps were firmly in our own interest, such as ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban and negotiating a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty). The Bush Administration opposes most of the 13 steps: Referencing the 2000 Review Conference would be tantamount to admitting that they are lying when they say that “the United States is in full compliance with its Article VI obligations.” So, rather than look like tools, we collapsed the Prepcom and now look like obstructionist tools. Having also collpased the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, the Bush Administration looks set to destroy the NPT during the RevCon next year(assuming the maniac weasels his way back into the White House).

Second, House Democrats on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee lost several 8-6 party-line votes, killing a pair of proposals that would have prohibited development and testing of space-based ABM interceptors. Another proposal, which would have canceled NFIRE, was withdrawn. The good guys apparently did arrange for a $75 million cut in the program that houses the space-based interceptor, but the mark-up does not specify where cuts should be made. The word is that the Dems will try again to place restrictions on the NFIRE that would force the MDA to honor their claim that the NFIRE will only conduct a simulated engagement in space.

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