UNITED NATIONS — The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 2005 Review Conference ended here in failure May 27. Many countries, nongovernmental groups and peace activists said a successful outcome, which would have advanced global nuclear disarmament, was blocked by the Bush administration.

Chilean UN Ambassador Alfredo Labbe said the failed review represented “missed opportunities to practice multilateralism.” In an obvious reference to the U.S., Labbe echoed the views of many when he said “some countries” had abused the rules of consensus to effectively exercise veto power over the review.

Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. of the Global Security Institute said the U.S. had failed to fulfill commitments it made when the NPT was adopted in 1995. “There have been failures in the past, but this failure appears to be at this stage the most acute failure in the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference process,” he said.

Chris Cooper of Abolition Now, which co-sponsored the mass May 1 antinuclear demonstrations here, said, “I would be willing to say the United States basically sabotaged the conference. It became clear that they were not serious about strengthening the nonproliferation regime.”

Critics of U.S. policy say that its representatives stymied the negotiations from the very beginning. The conference did not even have a working agenda until two weeks into the four-week conference.

U.S. representatives, appointed by the Bush administration, stalled over a number of issues. Most nations wanted the agenda to include references to agreements reached in 1995 and 2000, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and an indefinite extension of the NPT. The stalemate only ended when other states, realizing that time was short, capitulated to the U.S. and agreed that there would be no reference to these issues in the final document, only a verbal mention of them in the opening statement by the conference president.

Another issue that held up adoption of an agenda was U.S. opposition to a proposal pushed by Egypt, but backed by others, to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

Many so-called “middle powers,” such as Ireland, Brazil and New Zealand, are advocating nuclear-weapons-free zones. These zones have already been established in many areas of the world, including all of Latin America, Antarctica, parts of Asia and Oceania. Their aim is to step-by-step restrict areas where there are nuclear weapons.

Once an agenda was adopted, the U.S. stalled on other issues, leaving little if any time for the meeting to reach any substantive agreement.

Most non-nuclear nations criticize nuclear weapons states, mainly the U.S., for focusing on nonproliferation but not keeping their side of the agreement by dismantling their huge nuclear arsenals. Smaller, developing states say they feel threatened by this one-sided U.S. posture.

The U.S. push on “counter-proliferation,” say many states, is trampling on their right to use nuclear energy for peaceful development, guaranteed by the NPT.

“It is convenient to blame Iran and Egypt and others for the failure of the NPT Review Conference,” said Susi Snyder, secretary general of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She pointed out that Egypt “has been very vocal about the importance of acknowledging past agreements and bringing Israel into the treaty. And Iran has consistently called for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.” Both actions would strengthen the nonproliferation process, she said. “When the U.S. refuses to even discuss these issues, then it is the one sabotaging the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

The Japan Council against A and H Bombs said the attitude of the U.S. government “has aroused opposition internationally,” including from many governments who are NPT signatories, “bringing into relief the absurdity and isolation of the U.S. Bush administration going against the world’s wishes.”

“The world’s calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons are now irreversible,” the group said.

Cooper of Abolition Now said the U.S. sabotage of the nonproliferation review “has completely re-energized the nuclear abolition movement, especially in Europe and the Middle East.”

“Abolition 2000 has put together new NATO committees that are pressuring the NATO member states to get weapons out of Europe,” he said. “The Belgian Senate voted to get them out of Belgium and the German Social Democratic Party came out to ask NATO to remove their nuclear weapons. Whether that makes it into actual policy we don’t know yet, but there’s some decent movement there and it’s a good strategy. It forces the United States to rethink its nuclear posture, despite its own efforts.”