Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

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The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a multilateral nuclear arms non-proliferation treaty.



    • The impetus behind the NPT was concern for the safety of a world with many nuclear weapon states. It was recognized that the cold war deterrent relationship between just the United States and Soviet Union was fragile. Having more nuclear-weapon states would reduce security for all, multiplying the risks of miscalculation, accidents, unauthorized use of weapons, or from escalation in tensions, nuclear conflict.

      The NPT process was launched by Frank Aiken, Irish Minister for External Affairs, in 1958. It was opened for signature in 1968, with Finland the first State to sign. Accession became nearly universal after the end of the Cold War and of South African apartheid.


    • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.[1]

      Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. A total of 190 parties have joined the Treaty, with five states being recognized as nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China (also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council). More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty's significance.[1]

      Four non-parties to the treaty are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons, while Israel has had a policy of opacity regarding its own nuclear weapons program. North Korea acceded to the treaty in 1985, but never came into compliance, and announced its withdrawal in 2003.[2]

      The NPT consists of a preamble and eleven articles. Although the concept of "pillars" is not expressed anywhere in the NPT, the treaty is nevertheless sometimes interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them:

      1. non-proliferation,
      2. disarmament, and
      3. the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.[3]

        The NPT is often seen to be based on a central bargain: “the NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals”.[4] The treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even though the treaty was originally conceived with a limited duration of 25 years, the signing parties decided, by consensus, to extend the treaty indefinitely and without conditions during the Review Conference in New York City on 11 May 1995, culminating successful U.S. government efforts led by Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr..

        At the time the NPT was proposed, there were predictions of 25–30 nuclear weapon states within 20 years. Instead, over forty years later, five states are not parties to the NPT, and they include the only four additional states believed to possess nuclear weapons.[4] Several additional measures have been adopted to strengthen the NPT and the broader nuclear nonproliferation regime and make it difficult for states to acquire the capability to produce nuclear weapons, including the export controls of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the enhanced verification measures of the IAEA Additional Protocol.

        Critics argue that the NPT cannot stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons or the motivation to acquire them. They express disappointment with the limited progress on nuclear disarmament, where the five authorized nuclear weapons states still have 22,000 warheads in their combined stockpile and have shown a reluctance to disarm further.[dubious ] Several high-ranking officials within the United Nations have said that they can do little to stop states using nuclear reactors to produce nuclear weapons.[dubious ][5][6]

  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)". Defense Treaty Inspection Readiness Program - United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  3. 4.0 4.1 Graham, Jr., Thomas (November 2004). "Avoiding the Tipping Point". Arms Control Association. 
  4. Benjamin K. Sovacool (2011). Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy, World Scientific, pp. 187–190.
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named tcr2009