Jeffrey LewisUS Proposed Amendments: Disarmament and Nonproliferation

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is “very concerned” members will not reach agreement on final document for the 2005 World Summit, scheduled for 14-16 September 2005 in New York.

(A draft document is available from the United Nations.)

The major obstacle?

750 changes proposed to the 39 page draft document by new US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton just three weeks before the summit.

Arms Control has come into a copy of Ambassador Bolton’s proposed changes to the section relating to disarmament and nonproliferation, along with a “Dear Colleague” letter from Bolton to his, well, colleagues.

Unlike the image (right), this is no joke.


One change, among the many, best reflects the tone of the entire package of changes:

  • Call upon the nuclear weapons States to reaffirm their commitment to Negative Security Assurances;

“Negative security assurances”—for those non-wonks—are commitments by states with nuclear weapons not to use them against states without nuclear weapons.

Our assurance is thus:

“The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon state [NNWS] parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT], except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a state toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear weapon state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state.”

The commitment to refrain from using nuclear weapons against NNWS helps legitimate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is often criticized on the ground that it discriminates by creating nuclear haves and have-nots. George Bunn has more on the history and legal status of our commitments.

Bolton trashed this commitment early on in his tenure, telling Arms Control Today that “I don’t think we’re of the view that this kind of approach is necessarily the most productive” and telling the Washington Times “We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made.”

Boucher later walked back those comments.

But that line through the bullet point says it all.


Late Update” Steve Clemons notes “British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has asked Condoleeza Rice to rein Bolton in” (from The Guardian) and save the World Summit.


  1. Anders Widebrant (History)

    A remarkable document, with some truly mind-boggling changes to the text. This bullet point (stricken by Bolton) in paragraph 60 caught my eye:

    “Explore effective measures to prevent and combat the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related technology and materials, and their means of delivery as well as to ban their transfer to non-State actors, including by implementing effective national export controls;”

    On the face of it, it seems incomprehensible to strike this paragraph. But perhaps if a certain country were to implement effective national export controls of certain (fissile) materials, a certain Canadian non-State actor, sorry, pharmaceutical company might suffer a big financial setback?

    Only speculation, of course—perhaps the trigger was something else entirely.

    Also I love striking only the phrase “in a timely and effective manner” from the sentence about the Chemical Weapons Convention. Fits snugly with the American agenda of transforming the UN into an entity that gets some god damned results instead of sitting on its hands.