Cuba announced September 14 that it will accede to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which would leave India, Israel, and Pakistan as the only countries that have not joined the treaty.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Perez Roque said that Cuba’s decision was motivated by a desire to provide a “signal of the clear political will of the Cuban government and its commitment to an effective disarmament process.” He cited the NPT’s “discriminatory” nature and the lack of nuclear weapons states’ “concrete disarmament-oriented commitments” as the reasons for Cuba’s previous refusal to sign the treaty.
Roque also announced that Cuba would ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which opened for signature in 1967. The treaty prohibits the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons by its signatories and establishes a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America. Cuba is the last country in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean to ratify the treaty. Cuba signed the treaty in 1995 but did not ratify it.
The announcement was well received by the international community. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei praised Cuba’s decision in a September 17 statement and called upon Cuba to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement, as required by the NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco.
A U.S. State Department official stated September 23 that the United States supports Cuba’s decision, adding that “Cuba has always claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. We have no reason to challenge that assertion.” The NPT allows member countries to have civilian nuclear programs.