Letter : Obstacles to extending the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

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From Mr Gerald Clark

Sir: It is a pity that Michael Sheridan's otherwise useful account of the manoeuvering over the extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was marred by the implication that the treaty will come to an end if the Extension Conference that opens on Easter Monday in New York does not vote to extend it. This is not the case.

The conference has been arranged to satisfy the terms of Article X.2, which says that 25 years after the entry into force of the treaty, a conference shall be convened to decide whether it should continue in force indefinitely or be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. The inference is that the treaty will remain in force whatever the outcome of the conference.

The members of the Uranium Institute, who represent the whole range of the nuclear fuel cycle, issued a statement in September 1994 expressing the hope that the treaty would be extended for as long as possible and preferably indefinitely. They did so because an effective, multilateral, non-proliferation regime, which is stable, predictable and long lasting, is an essential precondition for public and political confidence in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The civil nuclear industry has an excellent record of compliance with this regime, whose safeguards have been effective against diversion of civil material to military use.

In its first five years, the treaty has enabled the benefits of civil nuclear power, which already generates 17 per cent of the world's electricity, to spread to more than 30 countries. The provision of reliable and environmentally clean energy in the form of electricity is the key to economic development in all countries. The international non-proliferation regime embodied in the treaty has contributed greatly to this development and, leaving arms control aside, is good reason in itself for supporting the indefinite extension of the treaty.

Yours faithfully,

GERALD CLARK

Secretary General

The Uranium Institute

London, SW1

21 February

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