Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Template:Treatybox The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a treaty, opened for signature on July 1, 1968, restricting the possession of nuclear weapons. The vast majority of sovereign states (189) are parties to the treaty. However two out of seven nuclear powers and one possible nuclear power have not ratified the treaty. The treaty was proposed by Ireland, who as a result received the honor of becoming the first signatory.

The treaty is often summarised by its three pillars: nonproliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology. [1] (

In New York City, on May 11, 1995, more than 170 countries decided to extend the treaty indefinitely and without conditions.


First pillar: non-proliferation

Only five states are permitted by the NPT to own nuclear weapons: the United States (signed 1968), United Kingdom (1968), France (1992), Soviet Union (1968; obligations and rights assumed by Russia), and the People's Republic of China (1992). These were the only states possessing such weapons at that time, and are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. These 5 Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) agree not to transfer nuclear weapons technology to other states, and the non-NWS state parties agree not to seek to develop nuclear weapons.

The 5 NWS parties have made undertakings not to use their nuclear weapons against a non-NWS party except in response to a nuclear attack, or a conventional attack in alliance with a Nuclear Weapons State. However, these undertakings have not been incorporated formally into the treaty, and the exact details have varied over time. The United States, for instance, has indicated that it may use nuclear weapons in response to an attack with non-nuclear "weapons of mass destruction", such as biological or chemical weapons, since the US may not use either of these in retaliation. The previous United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, has also explicitly invoked the possibility of the use of the country's nuclear weapons in response to a non-conventional attack by "rogue states".

Second pillar: disarmament

Article VI and the preamble indicate that the NWS parties pursue to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles. After more than 30 years this has remained only a promise. In Article I, the NWS declare not to "induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to ... acquire nuclear weapons". A preemptive-strike doctrine and otherwise threatening postures can be viewed as induction by non-NWS parties. Article X states that any state can withdraw from the treaty if they feel that "extraordinary events", for example a perceived threat, force them to do so.

Third pillar: the right to peacefully use nuclear technology

Since very few of the nuclear weapons states and states not possessing nuclear weapons, but using nuclear reactions for energy generation, are willing to completely abandon possession of nuclear fuel, the third pillar of the NPT provides other states with the possibility to do the same, but under conditions to make it difficult to develop nuclear weapons.

For some states, this third pillar of the NPT - which allows uranium enrichment for fuel reasons - is a major loophole. This is only a small step away from developing nuclear warheads, and this can be done in secret or by withdrawing from the NPT (like North Korea). So at the moment, the only barrier to bomb construction is political will. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear regulatory body, has said that if they wanted to, 40 countries could develop nuclear bombs. An alternative to the third pillar would be the requirement that all states, including the NWS parties, not only disarm, but also completely close down the nuclear fuel cycle.


Three states - India, Pakistan, and Israel - have declined to sign the treaty. India and Pakistan are confirmed nuclear powers, and Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, although it has never conducted tests (see List of countries with nuclear weapons). These countries argue that the NPT creates a club of "nuclear haves" and a larger group of "nuclear have-nots" by restricting the legal possession of nuclear weapons to those states that tested them before 1967, but the treaty never explains on what ethical grounds such a distinction is valid.

South Africa undertook a nuclear weapons program, allegedly with the assistance of Israel, and may have conducted a nuclear test over the Atlantic, but has since renounced its nuclear program and signed the treaty in 1991 after destroying its small nuclear arsenal. India and Pakistan have publicly announced possession of nuclear weapons, and have detonated nuclear tests. Israel has been developing nuclear weapons at its Dimona site in the Negev since 1958, and is believed to have stockpiled between 100 to 200 warheads. The Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny these claims, although this is now regarded as an open secret after scientist Mordechai Vanunu revealed the program to a British newspaper.

North Korea ratified the treaty, but revoked its signature after a dispute with inspectors over inspections of non-declared nuclear facilities. Iran also signed, but as of 2004 is under suspicion from the United States of having violated the treaty through an active program to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating.

In August 2004, according to a New York Times editorial, United States intelligence officials and non-governmental experts concluded that diplomatic efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran and North Korea have failed to slow their weapons development programs. [2] ( (registration required)

On February 10 2005 North Korea publicly declared that it does in fact possess nuclear weapons and pulled out of the six-nation talks hosted by China to find a diplomatic solution to the issue. "We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and have manufactured nuclear arms for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration's evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK," a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said regarding the issue. In June of 2005, however, high-level diplomatic discussion bettween North Korean & U.S. diplomates managed to restart the 6-nation talks, though a presice meeting date has not of yet (mid-June, 2005).

Every five years, there is a Review Conference on the treaty. At the 7th Review Conference in May 2005 (, there were stark differences between the United States, which wanted the conference to focus on proliferation, especially on its allegations against Iran, and most other countries, who emphasized the lack of serious nuclear disarmament by the nuclear powers. The non-aligned countries reiterated their position ( that NATO's nuclear sharing arrangement violates the treaty.

Parties to the treaty

See also

External links

fr:Trait de non-prolifration nuclaire ja:核拡散防止条約 nl:Non-proliferatieverdrag ru:Договор о нераспространении ядерного оружия zh:不扩散核武器条约


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