Russia has blocked a deal aimed at strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the United Nations after Moscow objected to a clause on control over the Zaporizhia power plant in Ukraine.

The failure to agree on a joint statement after four weeks of debate and negotiations between 151 countries at the UN in New York is the latest blow to hopes of maintaining an arms control regime and putting a lid on a rekindled arms race.

The last session was adjourned for more than four hours after the Russians refused to agree to a lengthy statement of support for the NPT, which refers to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant occupied by Russian forces near Ukraine’s southern front. East

Alarms were raised on Thursday when the plant was temporarily cut off from the Ukrainian electricity grid but connections were restored. The Russian military plans to disconnect the plant from the grid more permanently, raising fears of a potential disaster.

A paragraph in the final draft text on Friday emphasized “the paramount importance of ensuring control by competent authorities over Ukraine’s nuclear facilities … such as the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant”.

The Russian delegation was the only one to speak out against the agreed text, but accused Ukraine and its “protectors” of breaking the conference and called the negotiations a “one-sided game”. After giving their statement, the Russian delegation left the UN chamber.

The NPT was a treaty signed in 1968 in which states with nuclear weapons pledged to disarm while non-nuclear-weapon states pledged not to acquire them. At the time there were five recognized nuclear powers, although Israel had secretly developed its own weapons by then. There are now nine states that have nuclear weapons. Before the NPT entered into force, some predicted that dozens of countries would end up with their own arsenals.

This is the second five-year review conference that has failed to issue a joint statement recommitting itself to the treaty’s goals. It has been 12 years since the partial agreement.

But Sarah Bidgood, director of the Eurasia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the NPT was not irreparably broken and every other country could have accepted the text.

“The biggest takeaway for me is how far-reaching the effect of Russia’s war in Ukraine has been,” she said. “Even in some of the darkest moments of the Cold War, cooperation was often possible in support of the NPT. But what we saw today at the final ceremony does not bode well for the future of nuclear diplomacy, including issues like arms control.”

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said disarmament elements in the proposed text had already been watered down by all five official nuclear powers recognized by the treaty – Russia, the US, France, the UK and China.

“So, in all honesty, I don’t think it makes much of a difference,” she said. “This is a very dangerous game that the nuclear-armed states are playing by consistently failing to achieve anything in this treaty. At some point, the non-nuclear-weapon states will really start to question whether the treaty is worth the effort and whether it is relevant. “

Feehan argued that the continued failure of NPT review councils to find common ground meant that it was more important to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which seeks to ban them altogether. It entered into force in January 2021 and so far 66 states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.

“It’s going to be really relevant that we move forward with TPNW quickly and get more states,” Fihn said. “It’s really an insurance that if [the NPT] Keep failing, that we are left with nothing.

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