What is the NPT?

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), obligates the five acknowledged nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, and China) not to transfer nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosive devices, or their technology to any non-nuclear-weapon state. Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties undertake not to acquire or produce nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. They are required also to accept safeguards to detect diversions of nuclear materials from peaceful activities, such as power generation, to the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. This must be done in accordance with an individual safeguards agreement, concluded between each non-nuclear-weapon State Party and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Under these agreements, all nuclear materials in peaceful civil facilities under the jurisdiction of the state must be declared to the IAEA, whose inspectors have routine access to the facilities for periodic monitoring and inspections. If information from routine inspections is not sufficient to fulfill its responsibilities, the IAEA may consult with the state regarding special inspections within or outside declared facilities.

The Treaty was opened for signature on 01 July 1968, and signed on that date by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and 59 other countries. The Treaty entered into force with the deposit of US ratification on 05 March 1970. China acceeded to the NPT on 09 March 1992, and France acceded on 03 August 1992. In 1996, Belarus joined Ukraine and Kazakhstan in removing and transferring to the Russian Federation the last of the remaining former Soviet nuclear weapons located within their territories, and each of these nations has become a State Party to the NPT, as a non-nuclear-weapon state. In June 1997 Brazil became a State Party to the NPT.

The NPT is the most widely accepted arms control agreement. As of early 2000 a total of 187 states were Parties to the NPT. Cuba, Israel, India, and Pakistan were the only states that were not members of the NPT.

In accordance with the terms of the NPT, on May 11, 1995 more than 170 countries attended the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference (NPTREC) in New York. Three decisions and one resolution emanated from NPTREC. First, the NPT was extended for an indefinite duration and without conditions. Second, Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament were worked out to guide the parties to the treaty in the next phase of its implementation. Third, an enhanced review process was established for future review conferences. Finally, a resolution endorsed the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

There is no confirmed instance of State Party governmental transfers of nuclear weapon technology or unsafeguarded nuclear materials to any non-nuclear-weapon state. However, some non-nuclear-weapon states, such as Iraq, were able to obtain sensitive technology and/or equipment from private parties in states that are States Parties to the NPT. South Africa conducted an independent nuclear weapons production program prior to joining the NPT. However, it dismantled all of its nuclear weapons before signing the Treaty. In 1994, the United States and North Korea signed an "Agreed Framework" bringing North Korea into full compliance with its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT. North Korea affirmed its NPT member status and committed to allow implementation of its IAEA safeguards agreement.

Read the full article, with numerous links to further and more detailed information at http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/npt/ 

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