The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which became international law in 1970, contains the only binding commitment to nuclear disarmament in a multilateral treaty on the part of the nuclear weapon states (Article VI). Its three main goals are:

  • To achieve nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament
  • To prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
  • To promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy

The Treaty provides a “grand bargain” between the nuclear-armed states and those not relying on nuclear weapons for their security. In exchange for a pledge by the nuclear-armed states to nuclear disarmament, non-nuclear-armed states pledged never to acquire nuclear weapons, and were entitled to access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

While there is broad consensus regarding the positive role the NPT has played in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the international community is divided when it comes to its effect on nuclear disarmament.

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