Radicals submit a draft Bill to leave the NPT – UkraineDecember 7, 2016
With the passing of the anniversary of the signing of the Budapest Memorandum a few days ago (the only signatory to which that can claim to have unambiguously fulfilled its obligations being Ukraine) it is perhaps unsurprising that the populist Radical Party has simultaneously submitted a draft Bill to the Verkhovna Rada to facilitate Ukrainian departure from the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) 1968.
The Budapest Memorandum whilst a stand alone text was the result of Ukraine acceding to the NFP, albeit acceding with notable “Reservations” to the treaty.
(A “Reservation” is a unilateral statement made by a State when ratifying a treaty whereby it purports to exclude or to modify the legal effect of certain provisions of the treaty and their application to that State. In effect a “Reservation” can veto a clause or certain clauses of a treaty from having any legal obligation whilst the rest of the treaty is legally binding. “Reservations” are in fact common with regard to international treaties.)
Almost all Ukrainian “Reservations” to the NPT related to security – hence the Budapest Memorandum.
In short the proposed Radical Party draft Bill seeks to abolish the law “On the Accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons 1st July 1968”.
Well fair enough, but that alone would not free Ukraine from its NPT obligations.
For Ukraine to free itself from its NPT obligations it would have to provide notice to the UN and all other ratified signatories to the treaty of its intention to do so by activating Article X(1) – “Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”
Lo, 3 months thereafter any notification Ukraine would be free to legally pursue nuclear weapon capabilities of which it is certainly technically capable – albeit entirely lacking the domestic infrastructure required to produce the nuclear material. Ukraine has no enrichment facilities even though it is more than capable of producing delivery systems as evidenced by its reputation for reliable engine production with regard to space missions etc.
Ukraine would not be the first nation to leave the NPT, nor cause its robustness into question. For example both India and Pakistan were declared nuclear powers in 1998 with no serious penalties, North Korea officially withdrew in 2003, notwithstanding both Iraq and Iran pursuing nuclear power status “covertly”. There is then the historically “ambiguous” Israeli position – though in the modern day the only “ambiguity” relates to an exact number of nuclear warheads Israel possesses.
This illicit pursuit (less North Korea who exited the treaty per treaty text) is perhaps the result of a 1968 Treaty being signed and ratified when few nations had the expertise or desire to hold such weaponry. We are no longer in 1968 and Ukraine is no longer in 1994 when it ratified the NPT and agreed to rid itself of the 3rd largest nuclear weapon arsenal on earth (at the time).
As unlikely as it is that the Radical Party draft Bill will get anywhere near gaining the required parliamentary votes to set into motion events that would allow Ukraine to become a “nuclear power” once again, if hypothetically it were to occur then the NPT cannot be dealt with in isolation by Ukraine when it comes to international treaties – for nuclear warheads aside, there are treaties relating to methods of delivery to which Ukraine is also a ratified signatory.
Ukraine may also have to consider other international obligations to which it is a ratified signatory, for example the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missiles (HCOC).
(Further, without checking the treaty texts of the Biological & Toxin Weapon Convention (BTWC), Chemical Weapon Convention (CWC), Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Zangger Committee and Australia Group (AG), within these international instruments there may be clauses that would also require an official shift in Ukrainian participation and/or Reservations.)
Political populism aside, naturally the Radical Party draft Bill as currently written makes no mention of any of these potential legal repercussions as far as international obligations are concerned. This is perhaps in part due to the fact they do not expect the draft Bill to garner sufficient parliamentary traction, and certainly in part due to the fact they simply are unable to craft domestic legislation of any quality regardless of legislative sphere – let alone that with international obligation appendages.
Nevertheless in a time where unpredictable and/or unexpected political outcomes are becoming more and more commonplace, it is perhaps a piece of draft legislation that a watchful eye will gaze upon now and again regarding any legislative progress.