The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency
About the Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was concluded in 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970. It is the founding document of multilateral nonproliferation endeavours. The Acronym Institute has closely followed NPT developments since 1994. Our website features our own detailed reports on NPT meetings and analysis from a range of academic and practitioner commentators.
The NPT acknowledged that five states had conducted nuclear weapon tests by January 1, 1967 (Britain, China, France, the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia), defining them as nuclear weapon states, with particular obligations under Article I not to transfer nuclear weapons or assist others to acquire them and under Article VI to pursue nuclear disarmament. Other states would be permitted to join the treaty only as non-nuclear weapon states, with specific obligations under Article II not to receive or seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and in Article III to accept safeguards from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In return, the non-nuclear weapon states are promised access to nuclear energy for so-called 'peaceful' purposes (Article IV). The NPT in effect contains two trade-offs, both of which are problematic in concept or implementation: nuclear disarmament for nonproliferation; and nuclear energy cooperation in return for non-acquisition of nuclear weapons. The NPT currently has 188 states parties. Although the DPRK (North Korea) declared its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, questions remain about its formal status, since it only withdrew after being found to be in violation.
Every five years, there is a major Review Conference of states parties to the NPT. The treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, together with decisions on strengthening the review process and principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as a resolution on the Middle East, a region of major proliferation concern.
© 2004 The Acronym Institute.