Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force in 1970 and is the cornerstone of a broader non-proliferation regime that includes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), regulations for nuclear supply and trade (such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group – NSG), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO),...

The 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force in 1970 and is the cornerstone of a broader non-proliferation regime that includes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), regulations for nuclear supply and trade (such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group – NSG), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) and various additional agreements covering the safety, security and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, materials and capabilities.

The NPT contains basic provisions on non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, safeguards for nuclear materials and civilian facilities, uses of nuclear energy for ‘peaceful purposes’ (Article IV) and nuclear-weapon-free zones (Article VII). It enshrines legal obligations on non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) not to seek to acquire nuclear weapons (Article II), together with a safeguards system administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify their compliance (Article III). Five states that had conducted nuclear weapons tests by 1 January 1967 – i.e. China, France, the Soviet Union (now Russia), the United Kingdom and the United States – were designated ‘nuclear-weapon states’ (NWS). The NWS undertook obligations not to transfer nuclear weapons and technologies or assist others to acquire nuclear weapons (Article I) and also to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament (Article VI). No timetable was set for accomplishing these objectives, and no verification provisions were established for monitoring compliance by the NWS.

Russia, the United Kingdom and United States were designated as the NPT’s ‘depositary states’, with special responsibilities. China and France acceded much later, in 1992. Whilst 189 states are parties to the Treaty, three – India, Israel and Pakistan – have developed nuclear arsenals outside the NPT. Although the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) declared itself to be nuclear armed after unilaterally withdrawing from the Treaty in 2003.

The NPT was indefinitely extended at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, in conjunction with important decisions on Strengthening the Review Process, Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and a Resolution on the Middle East. States parties agreed to hold more frequent and substantive ‘preparatory committee’ (PrepCom) meetings in the three years prior to NPT Review Conferences, which are held at the UN every five years. The 2000 NPT Review Conference adopted a negotiated programme of action on nuclear disarmament (“the 13 Steps”) following a successful strategy led by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC). The 2005 NPT Review Conference failed due to deep political divisions.

The 2010 Review Conference succeeded in adopting a far-reaching final document, with consensus ‘Conclusions and recommendations’ including 64 ‘follow-on actions’ on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament, energy, safety and security. There were agreements to take forward the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East with a regional conference in 2012 to facilitate progress on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Referring to the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of using nuclear weapons and the importance of complying with international humanitarian law (IHL), the 2010 Final Document emphasized the mutually reinforcing obligations of concrete disarmament efforts undertaken by the NWS and the multilateral need to “establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons”.

28 May 2015

After the NPT Review Conference collapsed in disarray last week with disagreement over new proposals for a Middle East disarmament conference in 2016, humanitarian initiatives for a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty look like the only way forward.

After a tense standoff that carried...

21 May 2015

A host of nuclear free states are claiming back their power to create the conditions for a much-needed legally binding agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons, moving beyond the NPT Review Conference.

An unusual counting game is underway as the NPT undergoes its periodic review at the United...

21 May 2015

As the review conference of the parties to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons ends on Friday at the UN in New York, Amnesty International and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) believe that states must agree to initiate a process to create an...

22 April 2013

The Spring 2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in mid-April 2013 as parliamentarians return...

15 January 2013

The Winter 2012-2013 edition of Proliferation in Parliament offers a review of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation.  It is published in January 2013 following the Christmas...

1 August 2010

Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2010 edition of the Acronym Institute’s International Nuclear Weapons  & Non-Proliferation News, comprising a digest of news on global nuclear weapons policy issues as well as wider disarmament developments and research. This edition has been...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
11 May 2012

The 2012 PrepCom for the NPT finished a few hours early after adopting a procedural report and commenting on the...

9 May 2012

Sitting in room M2 in the Vienna International Centre on Monday listening to cluster 2 statements on non-proliferation, I was struck by how little the positions on safeguards have moved since the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

But despite the sense of déjà vu as delegations from different...

4 May 2012

As a first time visitor to Vienna as well as to an NPT PrepCom, I’ve had a lot to take in over the past few days – orienting myself on the Viennese metro system at the same time as getting acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of the NPT.  As I reflected on the landscape of the...

20 October 2014

On 16th October, the British government finally published the amendments made to the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) prior to its updating and renewal in...

Dr Rebecca Johnson
4 August 2014

Wars may be started for trivial or mistaken reasons, as happened in 1914, but they are fuelled by arms industries. It’s time to look at the alternative history of efforts to prohibit the weapons that feed wars, causing widespread humanitarian suffering.

...
Dr Rebecca Johnson
13 May 2014

On Friday, the UN-hosted meeting of around 140 of the 190 states that are party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons  (NPT) ended with...

23 February 2015

Lord Judd: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the February 2015 meeting of the "P5 Process", what proposals they will be making in preparation for the April 2015 Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference on (1) a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in...

6 January 2015

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will commission and publish a report on the likely effect of a UK Trident warhead in time to allow this report to be presented at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in a level of detail that...

30 October 2014

[Below is an abridged version of a Parliamentary discussion on the issue of Arms Exports and Controls, focused on the First Joint Report from the Committees on Arms Export Controls, HC 186, and the Government response, Cm 8935]

Column 130WH

Mr Jeremy Corbyn MP: ...

Author(s): Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa on behalf of 74 states
24 April 2013

Chairperson,

I am taking the floor on behalf of the following States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), namely Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d...

Author(s): P5 states (China, France, Russia, UK, USA)
19 April 2013

The five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nuclear-weapon states, or "P5," met in Geneva on April 18-19, 2013 under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation to build on the 2009 London, 2011 Paris, and 2012 Washington P5 conferences. The P5 reviewed progress towards fulfilling...

Author(s): G8 Foreign Ministers
11 April 2013

The G8 Foreign Ministers have issued a joint statement following their meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013 in London.

Introduction
G8 Foreign Ministers met in London on 10-11 April. The G8 represents a group of nations with a broad range of global interests and with...

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