Non-Proliferation Treaty

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPTi) is a landmark international treaty which became international law in 1970. The objectives of the NPTi are to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and to achieve nuclear disarmament.

  • The NPTi is essentially a bargain between those nations with nuclear weapons, who have undertaken to get rid of them, and those without, who have undertaken never to acquire them.
  • The NPTi contains, in Article VI, the only existing binding and explicit commitment to nuclear disarmament on the part of the nuclear weapon States.
  • For the purposes of this treaty, a nuclear weapon state (NWS) is defined as one which has "manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapons or other nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967." Therefore only 5 nations are recognised as NWS - the USA, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. 
  • Currently every nation in the world except four are Parties to the NPTi. These four nations - Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea - all have nuclear weapons.
  • Governments who are Parties to the NPTi meet every five years at a Review Conference in the United Nations to assess the implementation of the Treaty. Originally intended as a temporary treaty, the NPTi was indefinitely extended in 1995. Since that time, Preparatory Committee meetings are held in the three years in the lead up to the major Review Conference to assist in the work of the Treaty. 

A Nuclear Weapons Convention would strengthen the NPTi further by laying out a systematic program to achieve the goal of the NPTi's Article VI for nuclear weapons states to disarm their nuclear weapons. Working in conjunction with this existing Treaty obligation, a Nuclear Weapons Convention would advance negotiations to prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It is an aspiration of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to advocate for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to be brought into force to strengthen the existing commitment of the NPTi to disarm nuclear weapons.

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