Constructing a New Agenda
Progress in building the non-proliferation regime has historically depended on the agreement of the nuclear weapon states. But progress does not necessarily begin with these states. For example, Ireland introduced the original resolution, unanimously approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1961, calling on all states to negotiate the international agreement that ultimately became the NonProliferation Treaty (NPT). Mindful of the catalytic role non-nuclear weapon states can play, the ministers for foreign affairs of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden in June 1998 launched a "New Agenda" initiative to resuscitate the disarmament process. They expressed their deep concern "at the persistent reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states to approach their Treaty obligations as an urgent commitment to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons" and urged them, as first steps, to abandon their hair-trigger nuclear alert postures and to remove nonstrategic nuclear weapons from deployed sites.! They outlined several other practical and achievable objectives in a short statement and pledged to "spare no efforts to pursue the objectives." If other nations rally to the initiative, this could become a welcome catalyst.