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Monday, January 30, 2023

Russia jams UN N-treaty over Zaporizhzhia clause

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Russia has blocked an agreement at the UN that aimed at bolstering the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Moscow objected to a clause about control over the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine.

The failure to agree after four weeks of debate and negotiation among 151 countries at the UN in New York is the latest blow to hopes of maintaining an arms control regime and keeping a lid on a rekindled arms race, the Guardian reported.

It is the second five-yearly review conference that has failed to issue a joint statement recommitting to the goals of the treaty. It has been 12 years since there was even partial agreement.

The closing session was put off for more than four hours over Russian refusal to agree to a lengthy statement of support for the NPT which included a reference to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces close to the frontline in Ukraine’s south-east.

A paragraph in the final draft text on Friday stressed “the paramount importance of ensuring control by Ukraine’s competent authorities of nuclear facilities … such as the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant”, the Guardian report stated.

The Russian delegation was the only one to speak against the agreed text, but blamed the breakdown of the conference on Ukraine and its “protectors”, calling the negotiations a “one-sided game”.

After delivering its statement, the Russian delegation walked out of the UN chamber.

Alarm was raised on Thursday when the plant was temporarily cut off from the Ukrainian electricity grid but the connection was restored.

Russian forces are reportedly planning to sever the plant more permanently from the grid, raising concerns of a possible disaster.

The NPT was a deal struck in 1968 in which nuclear weapons states pledged to disarm while states without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire them. At the time there were five acknowledged nuclear powers, now there are nine.

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