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former IAEA Director-General

Nuclear Nonproliferation

WMD-Free Middle East Proposal at a Glance

December 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: December 2018

As part of a package of decisions that resulted in the indefinite extension of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the 1995 NPT Review Conference called for “the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems.” First put forth by Egypt in 1990, the Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone (WMDFZ) proposal expanded on longstanding calls to establish a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East. Both measures, intended to be pursued in parallel, have garnered broad international support but practical progress has since been elusive.

Background

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) first endorsed calls for the establishment of a NWFZ in a resolution approved in December of 1974 following a proposal by Iran and Egypt. From 1980 to 2018, that resolution had been passed annually without a vote by UNGA and endorsement for the proposal has been incorporated in a number of UN Security Council Resolutions. In 2018, the resolution was brought to a vote with the United States and Israel voting against. From 1991 onwards the IAEA General Conference has also adopted annually without objections a resolution calling for the application of full scope safeguards on all nuclear facilities in the region “as a necessary step for the establishment of the NWFZ.”

Prompted by Egypt in 1988, the UN Secretary General undertook a “Study on Effective and Verifiable Measures which Would Facilitate the Establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East” that looked at conditions surrounding the creation of NWFZ and made a number recommendations including a list confidence building measures. A 1989 IAEA Technical Study also looked at various modalities for the application of safeguards on nuclear facilities in the Middle East as a necessary step to establishing a NWFZ.

Despite extensive international support and the catalogue of resolutions endorsed including by all regional states, practical progress has been stymied by sharp disagreements between countries in the region over the terms and the sequence of steps leading to the establishment of the zone. Reflecting differing perceptions of threat and security concerns existing in the region, Israel has closely linked discussions on the establishment of the WMDFZ with the existence of durable peace and compliance with international obligations by states in the region. Arab states have said that no such linkage should exist and that the establishment of WMDFZ would contribute to peaceful relations.

Basic Elements of the Middle East WMDFZ

A future WMDFZ would commit parties not to possess, acquire, test, manufacture or use any nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as their delivery systems as provided for in the 1995 NPT Review Conference Middle East resolution. Definitions for what constitutes these types of non-conventional weapons are contained in international treaties on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as the 1948 United Nations Commission for Conventional Armaments. A shared understanding would also be required to regulate the types of delivery systems that would become subject to the prohibitions under the zone. Discussions have included proposals for banning all ballistic missiles with ranges in excess of 150 km.

Territory: The 1989 IAEA Technical Study, which first took up the geographic delimitation of a future Middle East NWFZ, applied the concept to a region extending from Libya in the west, to Iran in the east, and from Syria in the north to Yemen in the south. A subsequent UN Study expanded the concept further by including all League of Arab states, plus Iran and Israel in the zone. The Arab League has officially endorsed the UN Study delimitation and Israel has raised no objection other than note that any country in the region should be publicly recognized and accepted as an integral part thereof. Suggestions of including Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as Turkey in the eventual zone have not gained any significant traction.

Verification: One of the principles recognized by UNGA Resolution 3472B on NWFZs in 1975 was that such a zone “should provide for effective verification of compliance with the commitments made by the parties to the Treaty.” Israel has long insisted that any future WMDFZ must also provide “for mutual verification measures” while other proposals have included calls for setting up a regional organization to ensure compliance.

The WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East: 2010 - present

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, state parties were able to agree for the first time to five practical steps to make progress towards implementing the 1995 NPT Review Conference Middle East resolution. The United States, Russia and the United Kingdom, the treaty depository powers and sponsors of that Resolution, committed to work together with the UN Secretary General to convene a regional conference to discuss the issue in 2012. Other measures agreed included the appointment of a WMDFZ facilitator as well as designation of a government that will host the conference. 

The European Union has also offered to host a seminar, a follow-up on the one organized in Paris in 2008, to discuss steps that would facilitate work on establishing the Free Zone ahead of 2012 Conference.

In November 2011, a two-day meeting was held at the IAEA headquarters. Proposals by 97 participating nations included:

  • to continue working towards the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East;
  • to consider declarations of good intentions as a first step to break the current stalemate;
  • to make the best and most constructive use of every opportunity on the international agenda; and
  • to identify specific and practical confidence-building measures.

The regional conference on the establishment of a WMD free zone in the Middle East proposed by the NPT was set to be held in Finland in December 2012, and Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava was name as the facilitator.

On November 23, the United States issued a statement postponing the December 2012 conference. The conference has not yet been rescheduled, and the co-conveners are offering different opinions as to when it should be held, and the reasons for the delay. The U.S. statement cited "present conditions in the Middle East" and the lack of agreement by participating states on "acceptable conditions" for the December conference. No timeline for rescheduling was included. In a November 24 statement, Russia called for the conference to be held before April 2013, citing that the preparations had already reached an "advanced stage" and that the reason for postponement was that not all states in the region agreed to participate in the conference. At the time of the announcement, conference facilitator Jaakko Laajava, had not yet secured Israel's attendance. While Iran announced that it would attend on November 7, it also said it would not engage with the Israelis at the conference, and some experts believe Iran only announced it would attend because Tehran knew that the December 2012 meeting would not take place.

On April 29, 2013, Egypt walked out of the NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting in Geneva in protest of the conference's postponement and called for it to be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Between October 2013 and June 2014, Laajava, with the support of the conveners, has held five consultations with the countries in the region aimed at reaching consensus on an agenda for the conference. The last consultation was held in June 2014. The Arab League member states and Israel have attended every meeting. Iran was present only at the first consultation in October 2013, but is regularly briefed on the outcomes of the consultations.

During the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Egypt led the Arab League in pushing a new proposal to dispense with the facilitator and three of the conveners (Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), leaving the UN Secretary General as the sole authority for holding the conference within 180 days of the Review Conference ending. The Egyptian proposal also called for the creation of two working groups. Working Group I would deal with the scope, geographic demarcation, prohibitions and interim measures. Working Group II would deal with verification measures and implementation mechanisms.

A modified version of the Egyptian proposal appeared in the draft final document of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. The draft final document called for the UN secretary-general to convene a conference by March 1, 2016, aimed at “launching a continuous process of negotiating and concluding a legally binding treaty” that establishes a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

The document called for the secretary-general to appoint by July 1 a special representative to facilitate the process. The facilitator would work with the secretary-general, as well as Russia, the UK, and the United States, to consult with the states in the region on the agenda for the conference.

Under the language in the draft document, if an agenda for the conference were agreed before the March deadline, the secretary-general would have to convene the conference within 45 days of agreement on the agenda.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada decided not to support the draft final document from the NPT review conference based on the language concerning the Middle East WMD-free zone. The United States, speaking at the conference, said it objected because the plan to set an agenda and hold a conference was not based on "consensus and equality," and that the document proposed "unworkable conditions" and "arbitrary deadlines."

The WMD-free zone in the Middle East initiative continued to be a key discussion topic at the first NPT preparatory committee meeting in 2017 leading up to the 2020 Review Conference. The Arab League did not present a unified statement on the issue, marking a growing divide among members on the subject. Instead, Egypt, Iran, and a group of 12 Arab League members, including Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, each offered separate working papers on advancing the WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

In 2018, the UN First Committee adopted a resolution introduced by Egypt on behalf of the Arab League for the UN secretary-general to convene a conference on taking forward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East in 2019 and every year thereafter until a zone is achieved. Israel, Micronesia and the United States voted against the resolution and 71 countries abstained.

 


Chronology of Important Dates

1974 – The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approves resolution endorsing the goal of establishing a NWFZ in the Middle East following a proposal by Iran.

1980 - Israel joins international consensus allowing the General Assembly to pass a resolution supporting the goal of NWFZ without a vote.

1989 - The IAEA Secretariat issues report titled “A Technical Study on Different Modalities of Application of Safeguards in the Middle East."

1990 - The Egyptian proposal to establish an expanded WMDFZ in the Middle East is first submitted before the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

1991 – The UN Secretary General releases a “Study on Effective and Verifiable Measures which Would Facilitate the Establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East” outlining, amongst other things, a number of confidence building steps that could contribute to the establishment of the zone.

1991 – The IAEA General Conference passes resolution on “the Application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle” as a necessary step towards the establishment of a NWFZ in the region. The resolution has since been passed annually without objections.

1991 – The UN Security Council Resolution 687 endorses goal of establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

1992 – Discussions on regional arms control begin under the aegis of the Arms Control and Regional Security Group (ACRS), a multilateral regional body born out of the Madrid Middle East peace talks. Envisaged to include discussions on a future WMDFZ, talks were placed indefinitely on hold following disagreement between Israel and Egypt over the agenda for discussing WMDFZ related issues.  Iran and Iraq were not party to these talks.

1995 - The NPT Review Conference adopts a Resolution on the Middle East calling on states to take practical steps to make progress in the establishment of WMDFZ in the region. Member agreement on resolution was seen as key to securing the indefinite extension of the NPT.

2000 - The NPT Review conference reaffirms the goal of 1995 Middle East Resolution and says that the resolution remains “valid until its goals and objectives are achieved.”

2006 – The WMD Commission Final Report calls for an intensification of international efforts to establish a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

2010 - The NPT Review Conference endorses five practical steps to make progress towards the goal of establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East. Action steps adopted include convening a regional conference to discuss the issue in 2012 and appointing a WMDFZ Facilitator.

2011 - Two-day meeting held at IAEA headquarters on a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

2012 - The conference on the establishment of a WMDFZ in the Middle East is postponed due to a lack of consensus on the agenda.

October 2013-June 2014 - Five consultations are held for the states in the region to discuss moving forward on establishing an agenda for the conference.

May 2015 - The draft final document of the 2015 NPT Review Conference presented a new plan for moving forward on a conference to establish the zone. The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada objected to the document based on these provisions, thus preventing consensus and the adoption of the final document.

 

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Posted: December 6, 2018

Nuclear Testing and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Timeline

August 2018

Contact: Daryl KimballExecutive Director, (202) 463-7280 x107

Updated: August 2018

It is widely understood that nuclear weapons have only been used twice in wartime and with terrible consequences. Often overlooked is the fact that they have been “used” elsewhere—through more than 2,000 nuclear test explosions by at least eight countries since 1945.

These nuclear test explosions have been used to develop new nuclear warhead designs and to demonstrate nuclear weapons capabilities by the world’s nuclear-armed states. The tests, particularly the atmospheric detonations, have negatively affected the lives and health of millions of people around the globe.  In response, ordinary citizens, scientists, legislators, and government leaders have pursued a multi-decade effort to bring into force a global verifiable comprehensive nuclear test ban.

A global halt to nuclear weapons testing was first proposed in 1954 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a step toward ending the nuclear arms race and preventing nuclear proliferation. A ban on nuclear testing has been a key national security objective of the United States since the late-1950s, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated U.S.-UK-USSR comprehensive test ban negotiations.

In 1962-1963, President John F. Kennedy pursued comprehensive test ban talks with Russia, but the two sides could not agree on the number of on-site inspections. Instead, the two sides agreed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater.

Since the late-1960s, the conclusion of a comprehensive ban against nuclear testing has also been understood to be an essential part of the nuclear weapon states’ commitment to fulfill their nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Article VI nuclear disarmament commitments.

President Jimmy Carter again sought to negotiate a comprehensive test ban treaty with Russia from 1977-1980, but that effort also fell short as U.S.-Soviet relations soured after Moscow's invasion of Afghanistan.

In 1991, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced a unilateral nuclear test moratorium. Later that year, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress for a reciprocal test moratorium. The legislation, which became law in 1992, mandated a 9-month moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions. In July 1993, President Bill Clinton decided to extend the U.S. test moratorium.

From 1994-96, the world's nations came together to negotiate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which prohibits all nuclear test explosions and is intended to help curb the spread of nuclear weapons and impede nuclear arms competition.

On September 24, 1996, the United States was the first nation to sign the CTBT, which prohibits all nuclear weapon test explosions or other nuclear explosions, but the Senate rejected ratification in 1999 and the treaty has yet to enter into force.

In recent years, international support for the CTBT has grown and the global test ban monitoring and verification system has matured. Entry into force requires ratification by 44 specific countries listed in Annex 2 of the treaty, including the United States.

On April 5, 2009, President Barack Obama said: "To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned."

The following are key events in the history of nuclear testing and the nuclear test ban.


Skip to: 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

1940s

Image of the first nuclear test explosion in New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (Library of Congress Photo)July 16, 1945: At 5:30 a.m. near Alamagordo, New Mexico, the United States conducts the first ever nuclear test explosion, code-named Trinity.

August 6 and 9, 1945: The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading to over 340,000 casualties by 1950.

1946-1962: The United States conducts 193 atmospheric tests, mainly in the Pacific and Nevada, involving over 200,000 military and civilian personnel of which, 2,000-3,000 military personnel were used as subjects of government-sponsored medical research. Thousands of other civilians and soldiers are also directly affected or involved in test explosions conducted by other nuclear powers.

August 29, 1949: The Soviet Union conducts its first nuclear test explosion, accelerating the nuclear arms race. By 1962, the Soviet Union explodes a total of 142 atmospheric nuclear tests. Back to top.

1950s

October 3, 1952: The United Kingdom conducts its first nuclear test in Western Australia.

November 1, 1952: The United States’ Ivy Mike nuclear test, the first test of a hydrogen bomb, results in a 10 megaton explosion, which obliterates the island of Elugelab in the Marshall chain in the Pacific.An image of the Yankee nuclear test of the Castle series on May 14, 1954. At 13.5 megatons, the Yankee test was the second largest nuclear test in U.S. history. (National Archives, Air Force Collection Photo)

1954: The United States’ Castle test series and Soviet tests in Siberia arouse international outrage about radioactive fallout, particularly after the 15 megaton Castle Bravo test contaminates the Marshall Islands and the Japanese fishing vessel, Lucky Dragon. The hydrogen bomb tests prompt the formation of the Japanese Committee Against A & H Tests. 

April 2, 1954: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposes a nuclear testing "standstill" agreement, which is later forwarded to the United Nations Disarmament Commission. Albert Einstein and Pope Pius XII later call for a cessation of nuclear testing.

May 10, 1954: The Soviet Union proposes, for the first time by either superpower, a nuclear test ban as the initial step toward nuclear disarmament.

1957: The United Kingdom conducts its first hydrogen bomb test and the United States and the Soviet Union accelerate testing. These countries conduct 42 above ground nuclear blasts during the year.

1957: Otto Hahn, the scientist who split the uranium atom in 1938, joins eighteen of his colleagues in pledging to have nothing to do with nuclear weapons development or testing. Chemist and Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling circulates a petition calling for a test ban, which is signed by 9,000 scientists in 43 countries. The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy (SANE) places ads in major newspapers calling attention to the perils of nuclear war. Thousands of letters protesting continued nuclear testing are sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

May 1957: The United States and the Soviet Union trade test ban and weapons production cut-off proposals but fail to reach an agreement, due in part to opposition from U.S. nuclear weapons scientists. In the summer, the American Friends Service Committee, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the World Council of Churches circulate petitions calling for an end to all nuclear tests.

March 31, 1958: The Soviet Union announces a unilateral suspension of testing after completing their latest series of blasts.

April 8, 1958: President Eisenhower proposes a technical conference to explore test ban verification. Citizens in the United States are joined by citizens in Europe, led by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in creating a climate of support for a test moratorium and test ban talks.

August 22, 1958: President Eisenhower proposes a one-year test moratorium if the Soviets also refrain from testing and the initiation of U.S.-UK-USSR test ban negotiations, which begin on October 31.

1959: Test ban negotiations continue in Geneva despite opposition from lab scientists about test ban verification. Back to top.

1960s

February 13, 1960: France conducts it first nuclear test explosion in Algeria.

February 1960: The Eisenhower administration redoubles its diplomatic efforts by proposing a phased approach to achieving a comprehensive nuclear test ban. The proposal is endorsed by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and with some further modifications, it is positively received by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, making it likely that the test ban treaty could be signed at the Paris summit that both Eisenhower and Krushchev have agreed to attend in May. However, the shooting down of an American U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union on May 1 wrecks the chance for the Paris summit and the chance for a test ban agreement.

January-July, 1961: President John F. Kennedy accelerates U.S. nuclear weapons deployments and East-West relations deteriorate over the Berlin crisis.

August 1961: Soviet nuclear tests resume, followed by the resumption of U.S. testing in September.

October 30, 1961: The Soviet Union conducts the largest nuclear test explosion ever—a 58 megaton atmospheric blast code-named Tsar Bomba.

November 1, 1961: Approximately 100,000 women in 110 American communities leave their homes and offices in a national "strike" for a test ban, leading to the formation of Women Strike for Peace. Boston area physicians form Physicians for Social Responsibility, which documents the presence of strontium-90, a by-product of nuclear tests, in the teeth of children across the United States and worldwide.

March 1962: The Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) is established. The ENDC, later to become the Conference on Disarmament (CD), will continue multilateral discussions on the test ban for over three decades.

October 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis brings the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of all out nuclear war.

November 1962-April 1963: Norman Cousins, a prominent U.S. citizen and leader of SANE, meets with President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev several times privately to urge both leaders to find a way ease tensions and break the impasse on the test ban negotiations.

June 8, 1963: Soviet Premier Khrushchev invites UK and U.S. negotiators to a conference in Moscow in July to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

June 10, 1963: President Kennedy accepts the Soviet invitation for renewed talks in his commencement address at American University. He argues that peace without competition between the United States and the Soviet Union is not possible, but the prevention of nuclear war is.

July 15, 1963: U.S., UK, and Soviet negotiators meet in Moscow to try to work out an agreement on a comprehensive nuclear test ban. However, due to disagreements concerning on-site inspections, agreement on a comprehensive ban is not reached. Negotiators turn their attention to the conclusion of a limited ban, prohibiting tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and beneath the surface of the seas.

President John Kennedy signing the Limited Test Ban Treaty. (National Nuclear Security Administration Photo)July 25, 1963: The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) is initialed by the U.S., UK and Soviet representatives, W. Averell Harriman, Viscount Quinton Hailsham, and Andrei Gromyko, respectively. On August 5, the LTBT is officially signed by the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union. 

July 26, 1963: President Kennedy addresses the nation on the merits of the LTBT and asks for their support in ensuring Senate approval.

August 8, 1963: President Kennedy places the treaty before the Senate for its advice and consent. Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban is formed. SANE and prominent physicians place pro-ratification ads in major newspapers.

September 24, 1963: The U.S. Senate votes to provide its advice and consent for ratification of the LTBT by a vote of 80 to 14.

October 11, 1963: The LTBT enters into force, but nuclear weapons development and production continue with underground nuclear testing.

October 16, 1964: China explodes its first nuclear bomb—a 20-kiloton atmospheric blast—at Lop Nor in northwestern China.

July 1, 1968: The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is signed in Washington, London, and Moscow. Among other obligations, the NPT requires parties to the treaty to "seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to continue negotiations to this end.” Back to top.

1970s

September 15, 1971: Greenpeace activists sail from Vancouver to Amchitka, Alaska, intent on stopping a scheduled U.S. nuclear test, which fuels further public opposition to testing. Within a year, the United States cancels further tests at Amchitka for "political and other reasons."

1972-1974: Australia and New Zealand ask the International Court of Justice to halt continuing French atmospheric tests in Polynesia and send naval vessels to the test area to signal their opposition. Greenpeace sails into the French testing zone in protest of the explosions in what is the first of several actions against French testing.

A crater marks the site of India’s May 18, 1974 underground nuclear test at Pokhran in the desert state of Rajasthan. (Punjab Photo/AFP/Getty Images)

May 1974: On May 18, India conducts its first nuclear test in the Thar Desert near its border with Pakistan. Bowing to international pressure, France announces all of its future nuclear tests will be conducted underground.

1974-1976: The United States and the Soviet Union conclude the Threshold Test Ban and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaties limiting military and non-military underground tests to explosive yields below 150 kilotons. However, they continue to design, develop and produce new weapons. It is not until 1990, after a stronger verification protocol is negotiated, that both treaties enter into force.

1977-1980: U.S., UK, and Soviet negotiators make substantial progress toward an agreement on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) but opposition from the Pentagon, Energy Department, and Congress, combined with the deterioration of East-West relations after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, scuttle the chance for a test ban agreement as well as further controls on U.S. and Soviet strategic nuclear arsenals.

1979: At a meeting organized by the American Friends Service Committee, U.S. arms control and peace groups agree to pursue a new approach on nuclear disarmament: a mutual and verifiable freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons to be followed by reductions in nuclear arsenals. Later, the concept leads to the formation of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, which merged with SANE in 1986, to form what is now known as Peace Action. Back to top.

1980s

1981: Fear of nuclear war increases as the Reagan administration embarks on massive nuclear buildup and East-West tensions worsen. A December NBC/Associated Press survey finds that 76% of the U.S. public believe that a nuclear war is "likely" within a few years.

November 1981: The Union of Concerned Scientists and dozens of other citizen groups organize nuclear war teach-ins on 151 campuses in 41 states. Physicians for Social Responsibility showcase the potential devastating medical effects of nuclear war.

March 1982: Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) introduce a nuclear-freeze resolution that is supported by 150 representatives and 20 senators.

May 1982: Ground Zero national education week on nuclear war prompts thousands to sign nuclear-freeze petitions.

June 1982: Approximately 750,000 people gather in New York's Central Park during the 2nd UN Special Session on Disarmament to call for an end to the nuclear arms race.

July 1982: President Ronald Reagan decides to set aside the comprehensive nuclear test ban effort, calling it a "long-term" U.S. objective, which allows the United States to pursue the development and deployment of new nuclear warheads.

November 1982: Voters in eight U.S. states overwhelmingly pass referenda calling for a mutual and verifiable freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.

1983: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops delivers a pastoral letter calling for a halt to the testing and production of nuclear weapons, and is joined by national Protestant and Jewish organizations in support of a nuclear freeze.

1985: Arms control groups form the U.S. Comprehensive Test Ban Coalition. By 1991, the coalition includes over 75 national arms control, peace, faith, environmental, labor, and civic organizations.

1985-1987: The Soviet Union announces a unilateral test moratorium, partly in response to personal appeals to President Mikhail Gorbachev from leaders of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

1986: Physicians for Social Responsibility organizes "Code Blue" congressional lobbying events on the test ban. The U.S. House of Representatives passes a non-binding resolution (224-155) led by Reps. Patricia Schroeder (R-Colo.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa) calling for a one-year U.S. testing moratorium if the Soviet Union accepts on-site-inspections.

1986: U.S. President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik, Iceland and discuss nuclear disarmament but fail to reach an agreement.

1986-1993: Annual protests at the Nevada Test Site involving 3,000 to 9,000 people maintain public awareness of the continuation of nuclear testing and weapons development. In 1988 alone, over 14,000 people attend two nuclear testing protests at the test site with over 4,000 people arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.

August 1988: Six non-aligned states request a special conference to consider amending the 1963 LTBT to make it comprehensive.

Kazakh citizens gather to demand a nuclear test ban at the Soviet nuclear test site near Semipalatinsk in August 1989. (UN Photo/MB)

1988: Physicians for Social Responsibility and five other groups sponsor the First International Scientific Symposium on a Nuclear Test Ban, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The American Medical Association and the American Public Health Associations pass resolutions calling for a CTBT.

February 1989: Olzhas Suleimenov, a popular Kazakh poet and writer, forms the Nevada-Semipalatinsk Movement (NSM) in cooperation with leaders of the Western Shoshone nation to oppose further nuclear testing in Kazakhstan and elsewhere. Meetings and demonstrations are organized in many Kazakh and Soviet cities, including Moscow. The Soviets are forced to cancel 11 of 18 scheduled tests in 1989. Back to top.

1990s

January 1991: The LTBT Amendment Conference convenes but no decision is made to amend the limited test ban into a comprehensive one because of opposition from the declared nuclear powers.

August 29, 1991: The Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site officially closes. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 64/35 which designates Aug. 29 as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, 

October 5, 1991: President Gorbachev announces a unilateral, one-year moratorium on Soviet nuclear testing and invites the United States to join. Prompted by national disarmament groups and Oregon peace groups, on October 29 a bipartisan congressional coalition led by Rep. Kopetski (D-Ore.) and Sen. Hatfield (R-Ore.) introduces legislation that would impose a one-year U.S. testing moratorium.

October 29, 1991: 112 Members of the House of Representatives led by Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Rep. Kopetski (D-Ore.) introduce a bill (H.R. 3636) to establish a 1-year moratorium on U.S. nuclear weapons tests. A companion bil would later be introduced by Sen. Hatfield (R-Ore.) and others in the Senate.

December 25, 1991The Soviet Union dissolves into 12 separate republics and Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin assumes the presidency of the newly independent Russian state. 

April 8, 1992: French President François Mitterrand announces a unilateral French nuclear testing moratorium.

June 1992: Russian President Boris Yeltsin extends the Soviet test moratorium.

September 13, 1992: After a sustained national grassroots lobbying campaign led by disarmament groups, the U.S. Senate adopts the "Hatfield-Exon" amendment to require a nine-month U.S. testing moratorium, strict conditions on any further U.S. testing and require the start of global test ban negotiations and a prohibition on U.S. testing after September 30, 1996, unless another nation conducts a test. The test moratorium amendment is approved 55-40. On September 24, the U.S. House of Representatives adopts the "Hatfield-Exon" amendment by a margin of 224-151 and on October 2, President George H. W. Bush reluctantly signs the law containing the test moratorium legislation.

September 23, 1992: The United States conducts its 1,030th—and last—nuclear weapons test explosion, a 20 kiloton detonation at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, codenamed "Divider". 

January 1993: At a meeting organized by Greenpeace, Peace Action, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, pro-CTBT groups agree that in order to keep prospects for a test ban alive, the U.S. moratorium must be extended and CTBT talks must be initiated.

March 3, 1993: National Security Advisor Anthony Lake orders completion of an interagency review of U.S. policy on nuclear testing and a comprehensive test ban.

April 1993: CTBT advocates uncover a Clinton administration draft plan to renew U.S. testing and to substitute a one-kiloton threshold treaty in place of a comprehensive treaty. On April 30, The Washington Post broke the story, triggering national debate. Physicians for Social Responsibility, Greenpeace and other groups place pro-CTBT, "Don't Blow It Bill" ads in major newspapers.

May 1993: Sens. J. James Exon (D-Neb.), Hatfield (R-Ore.), and George Mitchell (D-Maine) and Rep. Kopetski (D-Ore.) express opposition to the one-kiloton plan. At the urging of pro-CTBT groups, they and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) organize letters from 38 senators and 159 representatives in support of a moratorium extension and a total ban. Editorials from 46 leading newspapers almost entirely favor extending the moratorium. Polls show 72% of the U.S. public favor continuing the moratorium.

June 1993: The Clinton administration debates nuclear testing policy, with the Energy Department, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the White House Science Advisor favoring extension of the moratorium.

July 3, 1993: President Clinton announces he will extend the moratorium through at least 1994 unless another nation conducts a test and will pursue completion of a CTBT by September 1996. Clinton states that the current U.S. arsenal is "safe and reliable" and that there is no immediate need for further tests.

August 10, 1993: The Conference on Disarmament (CD) agrees to give its Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban a mandate to begin negotiations on a CTBT in January 1994.

December 16, 1993: The United Nations unanimously adopts a resolution calling on the CD to proceed with the negotiation of a CTBT as rapidly as possible.

January 1994: CTBT negotiations begin at the CD in Geneva. Pro-CTBT groups press negotiators to complete talks by the end of the year and begin an effort to ban all nuclear test explosions, including low-yield hydronuclear explosions. A worldwide petition drive amasses 1 million signatures for a CTBT and is delivered to the president of the CD at the outset of the negotiations.

June 1994: The U.S. House of Representatives votes 263-156 on a resolution offered by Rep. Kopetski (D-Ore.), urging completion of the CTBT by the end of 1994.

September 7, 1994: The CD ends CTBT talks for the year without an agreement. Pro-CTBT groups learn of a U.S. proposal to make a CTBT only 10 years long in duration and begin efforts to force the United States to withdraw the idea.

January 1995: U.S. officials announce that they will pursue a test ban that is permanent in duration. CTBT talks resume in Geneva without agreement on the scope of the treaty, with the declared nuclear states favoring low-yield, hydronuclear tests under a CTBT. Australia begins a diplomatic effort to get consensus on a zero-yield test ban.

March 1995:  U.S. officials announce the extension of the U.S. moratorium.

April-May 1995: Over 180 nations meet and agree to indefinitely extend the NPT and conclude CTBT negotiations by no later than 1996. China conducts a nuclear test one day after the conclusion of the NPT review and extension conference.

June 13, 1995: Newly-elected French President Jacques Chirac announces France will resume nuclear testing before signing a CTBT, which foments international outrage and a spontaneous worldwide consumer boycott of French goods. U.S. officials debate a new proposal, backed by the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for the United States to pursue a 500-ton threshold test ban that would allow low-yield blasts.

Late-June 1995: Pro-CTBT groups rally a group of 24 senators and 113 representatives to urge Clinton to reject low-yield tests and to support "a truly comprehensive test ban."

July-August 1995: Over 35,000 citizens deliver calls and letters to the White House calling for a truly comprehensive nuclear test ban. The Clinton administration debates the 500-ton threshold proposal, with the National Security Council, Energy Department, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and White House Science Advisor favoring a zero-yield CTBT.

August 8, 1995: A new technical report by former weapons scientists is released that refutes the argument that there is a need for low-yield nuclear tests.

August 10, 1995: In response to constituent pressure and public opposition to French testing, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopts a resolution introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) condemning continued French and Chinese nuclear testing. Shortly thereafter, French President Chirac announces France will support a zero-yield test ban.

August 11, 1995: President Clinton announces his support for a "true zero yield" test ban.

September 6, 1995: France renews nuclear testing despite international opposition and efforts by Greenpeace vessels to reach the test zone. CTBT talks in Geneva end for the year without producing an agreement.

September 14, 1995: The United Kingdom announces it will support a zero-yield CTBT.

January 1996: CTBT talks resume in Geneva as India announces it will only support a test ban agreement if the declared weapon states commit to a time-bound nuclear disarmament framework. India later announces it does not intend to sign the treaty. China insists on allowing peaceful nuclear explosions. Pro-CTBT citizen groups in the U.S. and dozens of other countries write, call, and meet with CD representatives to urge completion of a zero-yield CTBT by the end of the year and to urge nations not to support India's conditions for supporting the CTBT, but rather to support disarmament through separate initiatives.

Jan. 27, 1996: France conducts its last test.

May-June 1996: China drops its insistence on peaceful explosions, but new disagreements emerge on verification issues and entry-into-force. Pro-CTBT groups worldwide press the declared and undeclared nuclear powers to reach agreement on verification and to support a "flexible" entry-into-force formula.

June 18, 1996: The United States indicates its willingness to allow an entry-into-force formula that requires all nuclear capable states to ratify the CTBT, making a flexible formula less likely.

June 26, 1996: Pro-CTBT groups rally Senate support for the CTBT and defeat the Kyl-Reid nuclear testing amendment by a margin of 53-45. The amendment authored by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would have allowed the President to conduct nuclear tests even under a CTBT.

June 28, 1996: CD Chairman Jaap Ramaker presents a final CTBT text for member-states of the conference to consider.

July 29, 1996: CTBT talks resume in Geneva. China sets off a nuclear test blast and announces it will not test after September 1996.

July-August 1996: Verification disputes are settled, but India announces it will block agreement on the CTBT at the CD.

August 1996: Consensus on a final CTBT text is blocked by India and Iran, ostensibly due to the failure to include pledges on disarmament. Australia intensifies its work to bring the CTBT directly to the UN for endorsement. Pro-test ban citizens’ organizations worldwide press the United States, other nuclear powers, and non-nuclear-weapon states to support the Australian CTBT resolution.

September 10, 1996: With 127 co-sponsors for the Australian CTBT resolution, a special session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approves the CTBT by a margin of 158 to 3, with five abstentions, opening the way for CTBT signature and ratification.

President Bill Clinton signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on September 24, 1996. (CTBTO Photo)September 24, 1996: The CTBT opens for signature at the UN in New York. On the first day, 71 countries sign the CTBT, including the United States.

June 10, 1997: Seven U.S. senators make floor speeches on the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's historic address at American University and call for the prompt approval of the CTBT by the U.S. Senate.

July 15, 1997: In a floor speech, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) notes, "There are certainly benefits to a comprehensive test ban treaty, but there are also costs and risks…." He also adds that he is "leaning strongly in support of the international treaty."

August 1997: A "seismic event" occurs near the Russian nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya. Initial reports suggest that the event might be a Russian nuclear test. However, the U.S. government later determines that the event occurred in the Arctic Ocean, 130km from the Russian test site, and the data suggests the event was in fact an earthquake.

September 22, 1997: President Clinton transmits the CTBT to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.

January 21, 1998: Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes to President Clinton and argues that Senate consideration of the CTBT should wait until the Senate addresses "higher priority" issues, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Climate Treaty.

January 27, 1998: In his annual State of the Union address, President Clinton calls on the Senate to approve the CTBT in 1998 and secures support for the treaty from four former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nuclear weapons laboratory directors, and the members of NATO.

February 10, 1998: President Clinton replies to Sen. Helms (R-N.C.) arguing that the CTBT should be ratified in 1998.

April 6, 1998: The United Kingdom and France both ratify the CTBT, after jointly signing it on September 24, 1996, becoming the first two nations who have tested nuclear weapons to ratify the treaty.

May 11 and 13, 1998: India, under the leadership of newly elected Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Hindu-nationalist Bhara Janata Party, announces India has conducted five underground nuclear test explosions in the Thar Desert. The tests are met with global condemnation and calls for India to sign and ratify the CTBT without conditions.

May 13, 1998: Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) draft and circulate a resolution calling for Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings and a vote on the CTBT "as expeditiously as possible."

May 15-17, 1998: A new national opinion survey is conducted to gauge public approval/disapproval of Senate approval of the CTBT. The results show that the American public continues to support the CTBT by an overwhelming majority (73% approve of Senate ratification; 16% disapprove; 11% don't know). Among those who heard about the Indian nuclear test (63% of respondents), approval was even higher (78% approve, only 15% disapprove).

May 28 and 30, 1998: Pakistan announces it has conducted six nuclear test explosions. The tests are met with global condemnation and calls for Pakistan and India to sign and ratify the CTBT without conditions.

May 28, 1998: U.S. disarmament and peace groups across the country stage protests and rallies at embassies, consulates, and local Senate offices calling on India and Pakistan to stop nuclear testing and for the U.S. Senate to approve the CTBT.

May-June 1998: Dozens of protests to condemn the tests are held in India involving a spectrum of prominent citizens. In addition, a new organization of professionals, the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament (MIND), is formed. In Pakistan, despite the imposed state of emergency banning protests following its tests, intellectuals and activists sign a petition calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Nongovernmental organizations and professionals hold a conference to condemn the tests by India and Pakistan and the ensuing arms race in South Asia. The Pakistani Coalition for Nonproliferation (CNFP) is formed to urge Pakistan to sign the CTBT and to take other steps to prevent an arms build-up.

January-August 1999: In the late spring of 1999, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and pro-treaty nongovernmental organizations redouble efforts to raise attention to the plight of the CTBT and to press the Senate leadership to begin the process of considering the treaty.

July 20, 1999: A bipartisan group of nine senators hold a press briefing, citing overwhelming public support for the treaty and calling for prompt Senate action. That same day, all 45 Democratic senators write to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), asking for “all necessary hearings...to report the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for timely consideration” by October 1999. As he has done for nearly two years, Sen. Helms (R-N.C.) rebuffs his Senate colleagues’ request.

August 1999: Most in the Clinton administration remain dubious about the prospect of real action on the treaty, and little more is done to build support.

August and September 1999: Treaty opponents accelerate preparations for a possible vote on final passage. James Schlesinger, who once headed the Defense and Energy Departments, and Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.) step up their lobbying efforts against the treaty with uncommitted Republican senators.

Late-September 1999: Without information about the opposition’s lobbying effort, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), along with other leading Senate CTBT proponents and the White House, decides to try to introduce a nonbinding Senate resolution that called for beginning the process for Senate consideration of the CTBT and scheduling a vote on the treaty by March 31, 2000. The resolution, however, was never introduced.

September 29, 1999: Having been informed of the Democrats’ intention to introduce their resolution, Sens. Helms (R-N.C.) and Lott (R-Miss.) abandon their blocking strategy and propose a vote on final passage of the treaty by October 7. According to Sen. Kyl (R-Ariz.), 34 senators have already been persuaded to vote against ratification, by September 14.

Lott’s initial proposal for 10 hours of debate on the treaty with only six days’ notice is not accepted by the Democratic leadership. Some Senate supporters, the White House, and the NGO community criticize the offer, calling it a “rush to judgment.” In consultation with the White House, Senate Democratic leaders negotiate for more time and a more thorough series of hearings.

October 1, 1999: Senate Democrats decide to accept Sen. Lott’s (R-Miss.) final “take it or leave it” counteroffer for a vote as soon as October 12. With the final vote on the CTBT just days away, President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Secretary of Defense William Cohen finally launch a high-profile effort to win Senate support for the treaty. However, the effort was simply too little too late. By the end of October 8, the first day of Senate floor debate, the most crucial of these Republican senators have declared their intention to vote against the treaty.

October 6-8, 1999: The first Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or the Article XIV Conference, is held in Vienna. Article XIV of the CTBT stipulates that if the CTBT has not entered into force three years after its opening for signature (September 24, 1996), the Depository will hold a conference, and every two years after, to facilitate the treaty’s entry into force.

October 12, 1999: Recognizing that the votes needed for ratification are not there and the damage a rejection of the treaty could cause, 62 senators write to the leadership on October 12 “in support of putting off final consideration until the next Congress.”

On the eve of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) are on the verge of an agreement to postpone the vote; but Sens. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.), Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), and Bob Smith (R-N.H.) reportedly race to the majority leader’s office to tell him that they are prepared to block any new agreement that would postpone the vote.

October 13, 1999: The U.S. Senate rejects the CTBT by a vote of 51-48.

November 10, 1999: U.S. Secretary of State Albright announces the formation of an administration-appointed task force, which will be led by retired General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to work with key senators to address concerns regarding the CTBT and make recommendations about its future consideration. Back to top.

2000s

June 30, 2000: Russia ratifies the CTBT.

January 5, 2001: U.S. General John Shalikashvili’s report “Findings and Recommendations Concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty” is released after a 10 month-long review of the CTBT following the 1999 Senate rejection of the treaty. Shalikashvili’s report voices strong support for the treaty and outlines measures to build bipartisan support.

2001: The George W. Bush administration announces it will not seek reconsideration of the CTBT by the Senate, but will not resume U.S. nuclear testing.

July 31, 2002: The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) releases a report on “Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” assessing the key technical issues that arose during the Senate debate over treaty ratification. The report concludes that the United States does not need nuclear testing to maintain the safety and reliability of its arsenal, that the ability of countries to cheat is limited, and that there is confidence in the ability of the verification regime to detect nuclear tests.

October 9, 2006: North Korea conducts its first nuclear test explosion. Despite being only partially completed and operating in test mode, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)’s International Monitoring System (IMS) was able to detect the nuclear test and showcase the efficiency of the treaty’s verification regime.

September 2008: The 2008 Integrated Field Exercise is conducted in Kazakhstan. This large-scale simulation organized by the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO is designed to test crucial elements of the treaty’s on-site inspection provisions.On April 5, 2009, President Barack Obama spelled out steps leading to a world free of nuclear weapons, including pursuing U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

April 5, 2009: In Prague, U.S. President Barack Obama states his commitment to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” including a pledge to “immediately and aggressive pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” 

May 25, 2009: North Korea conducts its second nuclear test, one month after declaring that it would no longer participate in multilateral talks on its denuclearization and would carry out nuclear and missile tests to strengthen its deterrent capability. With only three-quarters of the IMS in place, the CTBTO’s seismic stations are able to immediately confirm the nuclear test, and the noble gas system of the IMS later corroborates the seismic findings. The United Nations Security Council unanimously expands sanctions and counterproliferation measures against North Korea in response. Back to top.

2010s

May 28, 2010: The 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference concludes and agreement is reached on a Final Document, including conclusions and recommendations regarding nuclear testing and the CTBT.

February 6, 2012: Indonesia becomes the 36th Annex 2 state to ratify the CTBT, after signing on September 24, 1996, leaving eight remaining Annex 2 states needed to ratify the CTBT to bring the treaty into force: China, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.

March 30, 2012: In a follow up to their 2002 report on the CTBT, NAS releases a report noting that there have been significant advancements to the technical issues related to the CTBT, particularly since the 2002 report. The 2012 report reaffirms that the United States no longer needs—and would not benefit from—nuclear explosive testing and also cites substantial advances in the U.S. national monitoring and the IMS capabilities across all of the key verification technologies deployed worldwide to detect and deter nuclear tests.

February 12, 2013: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test. The test is announced by the state-run Korean Central News Agency and confirmed by the CTBTO’s IMS verification regime on the same day.

August 2013: CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visits China to discuss progress on CTBTO international monitoring stations in China. Following Zerbo’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and training for Chinese station personnel in September, China agrees to begin sending data from its IMS stations to the International Data Centre in Vienna.

September 26, 2013: The CTBTO creates the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) at the United Nations in New York to bring together a group comprising of eminent personalities and internationally recognized experts to promote the CTBT’s ratification by the remaining Annex 2 states.

March 19, 2014: The Times of Israel reports that Israel has strongly indicated support for the CTBT, noting that Israeli sources claim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers the CTBT to be “very significant,” Israel is “proud” to have signed it, and “has never had a problem with the CTBT.” CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo also notes that "Israel could be the next" Annex 2 state to ratify the CTBT.

November 3, 2014: The CTBTO Preparatory Commission launches their second on-site inspection exercise, called the Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan. The exercise involves two fictitious countries, lasts for five weeks, and uses 150 tons of equipment to comb a large swath of land next to the Dead Sea to test the procedures and operations required for a real on-site inspection of a country accused of testing a nuclear weapon.

September 29, 2015: CTBT states parties meet for the 9thArticle XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry Into Force in New York.

January 6, 2016: North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency announces that the country's military and scientific teams have conducted a fourth nuclear weapon test explosion, claiming it the test “scientifically verified the power” of a smaller hydrogen bomb that signifies a “higher stage” of development of North Korea’s nuclear force.  Initial seismic readings confirm a smaller-yield nuclear test detonation but technical experts are doubtful that North Korea conducted a test of a two-stage hydrogen bomb. The detonation, at North Korea's underground nuclear test near the village of P’unggye, is immediately detected by the CTBTO's International Monitoring System and many other national and civilian monitoring stations.

The nuclear test is widely condemned by North Korea's neighbors and the international community. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Commission for the CTBTO said in Jan. 6 statement that the fourth DPRK test should "serve as the final wake-up call to the international community to outlaw all nuclear testing by bringing the CTBT into force."

June 13-14, 2016: Foreign ministers and representatives from more than 69 states and international organizations gathered in Vienna on June 13-14 for a special meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to explore options for advancing its entry into force. Following a visit from the head of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to Jerusalem on June 20, the Israeli government pledged to ratify the treaty “at the right time.”

September 9, 2016: Seismic activity indicates that North Korea conducted a fifth nuclear test at 9:00 a.m. local time. The CTBTO reported that more than two dozen of the seismic stations that are part of the International Monitoring System confirmed that the seismic event was in the 5.1 magnitude range, occurred at a very shallow depth, and took place in the immediate vicinity of North Korea's Pyunggye-ri test site.

September 23, 2016: The UN Security Council adopted its first resolution specifically supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), with the vote intended to reaffirm the global norm against nuclear testing and to encourage the ratifications necessary to trigger the treaty’s entry into force. Resolution 2310, introduced by the United States, was approved 14-0, with Egypt abstaining. A total of 42 countries, including Israel, co-sponsored the resolution, which comes 20 years after the treaty was opened for signature. The resolution took note of a Sept. 15 joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members recognizing that “a nuclear-weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion would defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.” By endorsing this language, the resolution affirmed the view of these five states that even before the treaty enters into force, all 183 CTBT signatories have an existing obligation not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

September 3, 2017: Seismic activity indicates that North Korea conducted their sixth and largest nuclear test to date at 3:30 UTC and 12:00 noon local time. The CTBTO reported that over 100 International Monitoring System stations are contributing to the analysis. Its initial estimate is that the seismic event's magnitude was around 5.8, occurred at a very shallow depth, and took place in the immediate vicinity of North Korea's Pyunggye-ri test site. A secondary, "subsequent aftershock at same location was recorded at 2 units of magnitude smaller 8.5 mins after" the 5.8 magnitude event. Comparison of seismic signals (to scale) of all six declared DPRK nuclear tests, as observed at IMS station AS-59 Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan.On September 7, the CTBTO announced that it revised its initial magnitude estimate to 6.1. Experts assess the explosion could have had a yield in excess of 100 kilotons TNT equivalent.

February 2, 2018: The 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) asserts that “the United States does not support the ratification of the CTBT" without providing any further explanation as to why. The United States will "continue to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Committee” and “the related International Monitoring System and the International Data Center” the report adds. The NPR calls upon other states not to conduct nuclear testing and states that “[t]he United States will not resume nuclear explosive testing unless necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal.”

April 20, 2018: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declares that he will suspend nuclear and missile tests starting on April 21 and that he will shut down the Punggye-ri test site where the previous six nuclear tests were conducted. At the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference preparatory committee meeting from April 25 - May 7, several countries call on North Korea to sign and ratify the CTBT to codify this pledge into international law.

May 24, 2018: North Korea reports that it destroyed its nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri, setting off explosions to destroy the north, west and south portals to tunnels that could have been used to test nuclear weapons. It is not clear if North Korea completely destroyed the long-abandonded east portal. No nuclear experts were granted access to verify the destruction of the test site. North Korea did transport several international journalists to observe the explosions from a distance.

Back to top.

Nuclear Testing

Posted: August 21, 2018

The U.S. Atomic Energy Act Section 123 At a Glance

July 2018

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: July 2018

Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954 establishes the conditions and outlines the process for major nuclear cooperation between the United States and other countries. In order for a country to enter into such an agreement with the United States, that country must commit to a set of nine nonproliferation criteria. As of January 20, 2017, the United States has entered into 23 nuclear cooperation agreements that govern nuclear cooperation with 48 countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Taiwan. The United States negotiated new agreements in 2015 with China and South Korea to replace existing ones and renewed Japan's agreement in July 2018.

The nine nonproliferation criteria for section 123 agreements are as follows:

  • Nuclear material and equipment transferred to the country must remain under safeguards in perpetuity.
  • Non-nuclear-weapon states partners must have full-scope IAEA safeguards, essentially covering all major nuclear facilities.
  • A guarantee that transferred nuclear material, equipment, and technology will not have any role in nuclear weapons development or any other military purpose, except in the case of cooperation with nuclear-weapon states.
  • In the event that a non-nuclear-weapon state partner detonates a nuclear device using nuclear material produced or violates an IAEA safeguards agreement, the United States has the right to demand the return of any transfers.
  • U.S. consent is required for any re-transfer of material or classified data.
  • Nuclear material transferred or produced as a result of the agreement is subject to adequate physical security.
  • U.S. prior consent rights to the enrichment or reprocessing of nuclear material obtained or produced as a result of the agreement.
  • Prior U.S. approval is required for highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium obtained or produced as a result of the agreement.  An agreement permitting enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) using U.S. provided material requires separate negotiation.
  • The above nonproliferation criteria apply to all nuclear material or nuclear facilities produced or constructed as a result of the agreement.

Section 123 requires that the Department of State submit a Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) explaining how the nuclear cooperation agreement meets these nonproliferation conditions. Congress has a total of 90 days in continuous session to consider the agreement, after which it automatically becomes law unless Congress adopts a joint resolution opposing it.

The President may exempt a proposed agreement from any of the above criteria upon determination maintaining such a criteria would be “seriously prejudicial to the achievement of U.S. non-proliferation objectives or otherwise jeopardize the common defense of the United States.” Exempted 123 agreements would then go through a different process than non-exempt agreements, requiring a congressional joint resolution approving the agreement for it to become law. There are no 123 agreements in force that were adopted with such exemptions.

In 2006, Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act which amended the AEA permit nuclear cooperation with India, a country which is not a member of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not maintain full-scope safeguards.  The Hyde amendment has been criticized for undermining U.S. international counterproliferation efforts.

A 123 agreement alone does not permit countries to enrich or reprocess nuclear material acquired from the United States and permission to do so requires a further negotiated agreement.  A debate is currently raging in the nonproliferation community over the “Gold Standard,” named after the U.S.-UAE 123 agreement signed in 2009 whereby the UAE voluntarily renounced pursuing enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies and capabilities.  The UAE agreement stands in stark contrast to the “blanket consent” granted to India, Japan, and EURATOM, who have ENR approval from the U.S. 

ENR capabilities are controversial because the process transforms raw uranium or spent nuclear fuel into highly-enriched uranium.  While these capabilities are generally used for energy purposes, because the same technology can be used for weaponization processes there are concerns of serious proliferation risks when a country obtains the technology.  A Gold Standard for 123 agreements would require any country party to a 123 agreement with the United States to renounce ENR activities. The Department of Energy and the U.S. nuclear industry advocate a continuance of the case-by-case approach followed thus far in renewal agreements. A case-by-case approach allows countries to apply for ENR permission, and has been successfully pursued by India and Japan.  South Korea is pushing for an agreement to permit reprocessing to develop its own nuclear industry, a major target in its economic development plans.

Thus far Congress has attempted several times to pass measures ensuring that future 123 agreements adhere to the Gold Standard.  The most prominent of these bills was H.R. 1280, which among other amendments to the Atomic Energy Act declared that future 123 agreements must include “a requirement as part of the agreement for cooperation or other legally binding document that is considered part of the agreement that no reprocessing activities, or acquisition or construction of facilities for such activities, will occur within” the country.  The bill also required states considering 123 agreements to be members of many international treaties and conventions promoting non-proliferation.  Though reported out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in April 2011, it was blocked from floor consideration and died with the 112th Congress.

The executive branch has been less clear in its position.  The George W. Bush administration coined the term Gold Standard when the U.S.-UAE deal was signed in 2009 and declared it the new standard for nuclear cooperation agreements.  The Obama administration did not explicitly come out in favor of a Gold Standard, though there were several interagency reviews soliciting opinions, including during the summer of 2012.  A 2011 letter from the Obama administration to Capitol Hill renounced the idea of a uniform approach to 123 agreements and advocated for a case-by-case approach in future negotiations.  (See ACT, March 2012).

The Trump administration began formal negotiations on a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia in February 2018. The administration has not yet decided if it will insist that a Saudi 123 agreement adhere to the Gold Standard.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Posted: July 25, 2018

IAEA Safeguards Agreements at a Glance

June 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: June 2018

Introduction

Safeguards agreements ensure that all nuclear activity a state undertakes is for peaceful purposes and that a state is not engaging in illicit nuclear activities. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is the independent organization charged with applying safeguards.

The IAEA and Canada concluded the first safeguards agreement in 1959 and in 1961, the IAEA’s Board of Governors approved a document outlining the principles of safeguards. Since 1961, both the scope and application of safeguards have evolved.

Under Article III of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), all non-nuclear weapons states-parties are required to conclude a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), known as a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA or INFCIRC/153 corrected). Given the near-universal membership in the NPT, safeguards are now widespread.

These agreements allow for states to exercise their right under the NPT to peaceful nuclear energy without causing concern that they may actually be developing nuclear weapons in violation of the treaty.

The five NPT nuclear weapons states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are not required to have IAEA safeguards agreements under the NPT. All five, however, have signed voluntary offer safeguards agreements that permit the IAEA to apply safeguards to material in select eligible facilities. This covers civilian nuclear material and sites. All five nuclear weapon states have also concluded additional protocols to the voluntary offer safeguards agreements.

States with minimal or no nuclear material may sign a small quantities protocol, abstaining them from some of the obligations under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement as long as they meet certain criteria. The small quantifies protocol was revised in 2005, and now contains fewer exemptions.

Non-states-parties to the NPT may also sign safeguards agreements with the IAEA known as item-specific safeguards agreements.  India, Pakistan and Israel for instance, have placed civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and India has an Additional Protocol in force.

IAEA safeguards measures do not prohibit additional bilateral or multilateral safeguards measures. For instance, Brazil and Argentina reached an agreement on bilateral safeguards inspections in 1991 (ABACC) and Euratom’s safeguards, which predated the NPT requirement, and contribute to its member states’ safeguards agreements negotiated with the agency. 

Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA)

The Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) is required for non-nuclear weapon states under the NPT and is an option for non-NPT members. In concluding a CSA with the IAEA, states must declare the type and quantity of material subject to safeguards in an initial report. The IAEA verifies that a state’s declaration of nuclear material is correct and complete. A CSA also gives the IAEA the authority to independently verify that all nuclear material in the territory or jurisdictional control of a state is not diverted for nuclear weapons or explosives purposes and that nuclear facilities are not misused. 

The IAEA notes four main processes for the implementation of safeguards. 

  1. Collection and evaluation of safeguards-relevant information: The IAEA collects safeguards-relevant information to determine if a state’s declarations about its nuclear program are correct.
  2. Development of a safeguards approach for a state: A safeguards approach indicates which safeguards measures are needed to verify a state’s declarations.
  3. Planning, conducting and evaluating safeguards activities: The IAEA then develops a plan to conduct the safeguards activities based on the safeguards approach and identifies areas that may need to be followed up.
  4. Drawing of a safeguards conclusion: Upon completing the safeguards implementation cycle, the IAEA issues safeguards conclusions, which provide credible assurances to the international community that states are abiding by safeguards commitments.

According to the IAEA, there are 174 states with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, as of June 2018. Each year the IAEA reports on safeguards implementation to the agency’s Board of Governors, which is comprised of IAEA member states.

Strengthening Safeguards

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began an effort in 1993 to better constrain NPT member-states' ability to illicitly pursue nuclear weapons after secret nuclear weapons programs in Iraq and North Korea exposed weaknesses in existing agency safeguards.

Program 93+2

Iraq, an NPT state-party, successfully circumvented IAEA safeguards by exploiting the agency's system of confining its inspection and monitoring activities to facilities or materials explicitly declared by each state in its safeguards agreement with the agency. To close the "undeclared facilities" loophole, the IAEA initiated a safeguards improvement plan known as "Program 93+2." The plan's name reflected that it was drafted in 1993 with the intention of being implemented in two years.

Putting "Program 93+2" into effect, however, took more time than expected, and the program has subsequently been implemented in two parts. The IAEA, within its existing authority, initiated the first part in January 1996. This first step added new monitoring measures, such as environmental sampling, no-notice inspections at key measurement points within declared facilities, and remote monitoring and analysis.

Modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to a Safeguards Agreement

Modified Code 3.1 requires countries to submit design information for new nuclear facilities to the IAEA as soon as the decision is made to construct, or authorize construction, of the facility. Modified Code 3.1 was introduced in the early 1990s to replace the 1976 code, which only required states to inform the IAEA of new facilities not later than 180 days after the beginning of its construction. States that implement Modified Code 3.1 provide the IAEA with additional time to respond to a state’s expansion of its nuclear program and to adjust safeguard agreements as needed. 

The Model Additional Protocol (AP)

The second part of "Program 93+2" required a formal expansion of the agency's legal mandate in the form of an additional protocol to be adopted by each NPT member to supplement its existing IAEA safeguards agreement. The IAEA adopted a Model Additional Protocol on May 15, 1997. The essence of the Additional Protocol is to reshape the IAEA's safeguards regime from a quantitative system focused on accounting for known quantities of materials and monitoring declared activities to a qualitative system aimed at gathering a comprehensive picture of a state's nuclear and nuclear-related activities, including all nuclear-related imports and exports. The Additional Protocol also substantially expands the IAEA's ability to check for clandestine nuclear facilities by providing the agency with authority to visit any facility, declared or not, to investigate questions about or inconsistencies in a state's nuclear declarations. NPT states-parties are not required to adopt an Additional Protocol, although the IAEA is urging all to do so.

The model protocol outlined four key changes that must be incorporated into each NPT state-party's Additional Protocol.

  1. Expanded amount and type of information to be provided to the IAEA
  • In addition to the current requirement for data about nuclear fuel and fuel-cycle activities, states will now have to provide an "expanded declaration" on a broad array of nuclear-related activities, such as "nuclear fuel cycle-related research and development activities—not involving nuclear materials" and "the location, operational status and the estimated annual production" of uranium mines and thorium concentration plants. Thorium can be processed to produce fissile material, the key ingredient for nuclear weapons.
  • All trade in items on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) trigger list will have to be reported to the IAEA as well. The NSG is a group of 48 nuclear supplier countries that seeks to voluntarily prevent the use of peaceful nuclear technology for military purposes by restricting nuclear and nuclear-related exports.
  1. Increased number and type of facilities the IAEA can inspect
  • In order to resolve questions about or inconsistencies in the information a state has provided on its nuclear activities, the new inspection regime provides the IAEA with "complementary," or pre-approved, access to "any location specified by the Agency," as well as all of the facilities specified in the "expanded declaration."
  • By negotiating an additional protocol, states will, in effect, guarantee the IAEA access on short notice to all of their declared and, if necessary, undeclared facilities in order "to assure the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities."
  1. Streamlining the visa process for inspectors
  • The agency's ability to conduct short notice inspections is augmented by streamlining the visa process for inspectors, who are guaranteed to receive within one month's notice "appropriate multiple entry/exit" visas that are valid for at least a year.
  1. Increased right to use environmental sampling
  • The Additional Protocol provides for the IAEA's right to use environmental sampling during inspections at both declared and undeclared sites.
  • It further permits the use of environmental sampling over a wide area rather than being confined to specific facilities.

Credit: International Atomic Energy Agency

As of June 2018, 132 countries and Euratom have concluded Additional Protocols that are now in force. Another 16 states have signed Additional Protocols but have yet to bring them into force. Iran applies its Additional Protocol pending its pursuit of ratification as part of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1. 

Although the Additional Protocol is widely accepted as a standard safeguards practice, several states have opposed the expansion of safeguards to include it.

Integrated Safeguards

In addition to strengthening safeguards through the adoption of the Model Additional Protocol, in the late 1990s and 2000s, the IAEA also developed methods to improve the efficiency and efficacy of safeguards implementation for states with both CSAs and APs in force. The IAEA began using a “state-level concept” to evaluate a state’s compliance with safeguards agreements comprehensively, instead of on a facility-by-facility basis. It also began issuing “broader conclusion” determinations for states in order to ease safeguards implementation burdens by applying the state-level approach.

Broader Conclusion

The IAEA began issuing a “broader conclusion” designation for certain states with both the CSA and AP in force as part of a continuing effort to improve the efficiency and efficacy of safeguards and to cut costs. The IAEA must recertify a broader conclusion each year, verifying that a state’s declaration is both correct and complete. In other words, its nuclear material must remain in peaceful purposes with no indication of diversion.

If the IAEA derives a broader conclusion for a state, it may implement “integrated safeguards,” which are tailored to each individual state. Therefore, the resulting safeguards enforcement for that state becomes less burdensome and less costly.

The first state with a broader conclusion was Australia in 1999. The IAEA drew broader conclusions for 69 states in June 2017. 

State-Level Concept

Over the years, the IAEA has also developed the state-level concept, which has become the designation for an integrated safeguards approach. Under the state-level concept, the IAEA considers each state as a whole when implementing and evaluating safeguards, including nuclear-related activities and capabilities, instead of examining each facility in a given state separately. Based on the broader range of information, the agency can then tailor a safeguards approach to the specific country.

The term “state-level concept” was first used in an IAEA document in 2005 although the IAEA had been following the practice since the early 1990s. The state-level concept is used for all states with a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, an Additional Protocol in force, and a broader conclusion finding.  In a 2013 report, the Director-General of the IAEA indicated his intent to continue to develop state-level approaches for safeguards implementation for additional states.

Note: This factsheet was previously titled “The 1997 IAEA Additional Protocol at a Glance.”

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

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Posted: June 25, 2018

Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance

June 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102; Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: June 2018

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States hoped to maintain a monopoly on its new weapon, but the secrets and the technology for making nuclear weapons soon spread. The United States conducted its first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test explosion. The United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (1964) followed. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.

India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since that time. Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of having done the same. Still, nuclear nonproliferation successes outnumber failures and dire forecasts decades ago that the world would be home to dozens of states armed with nuclear weapons have not come to pass.

At the time the NPT was concluded, the nuclear stockpiles of both the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia numbered in the tens of thousands. Beginning in the 1970s, U.S. and Soviet/Russian leaders negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals. Today, the United States and Russia each deploy roughly 1,400 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and are modernizing their nuclear delivery systems.

China, India, and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges.

Nuclear-Weapon States:

The nuclear-weapon states (NWS) are the five states—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States—officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT. The treaty legitimizes these states’ nuclear arsenals, but establishes they are not supposed to build and maintain such weapons in perpetuity. In 2000, the NWS committed themselves to an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Because of the secretive nature with which most governments treat information about their nuclear arsenals, most of the figures below are best estimates of each nuclear-weapon state’s nuclear holdings, including both strategic warheads and lower-yield devices referred to as tactical weapons.

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China

  • About 280 total warheads. 

France

  • About 300 total warheads. 

Russia

  • February 2018 New START declaration: 1,444 strategic warheads deployed on 527 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers.
  • The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates approximately 4,350 stockpiled warheads and 2,500 retired warheads for a total of roughly 6,850 warheads, as of early 2018. 

United Kingdom

  • About 120 strategic warheads, of which no more than 40 are deployed at sea on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine at any given time. The United Kingdom possesses a total of four ballistic missile submarines.
  • Total stockpile is estimated up to 215 warheads.

United States:

  • February 2018 New START declaration: 1,350 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 652 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers.
  • FAS estimates approximately 4,000 stockpiled warheads and 2,550 retired warheads for a total of 6,550 warheads as of February 2018.

Non-NPT Nuclear Weapons Possessors:

  • India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the NPT and are known to possess nuclear weapons.
  • India first tested a nuclear explosive device in 1974. That test spurred Pakistan to ramp up work on its secret nuclear weapons program.
  • India and Pakistan both publicly demonstrated their nuclear weapon capabilities with a round of tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May 1998.
  • Israel has not publicly conducted a nuclear test, does not admit or deny having nuclear weapons, and states that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Israel is universally believed to possess nuclear arms, although it is unclear exactly how many.

The following arsenal estimates are based on the amount of fissile material—highly enriched uranium and plutonium—that each of the states is estimated to have produced. Fissile material is the key element for making nuclear weapons. India and Israel are believed to use plutonium in their weapons, while Pakistan is thought to use highly enriched uranium.

IndiaBetween 130-140 nuclear warheads.
IsraelAn estimated 80 nuclear warheads, with fissile material for up to 200.
PakistanBetween 140-150 nuclear warheads.


States of Immediate Proliferation Concern:

Prior to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran pursued an uranium-enrichment program and other projects that provided it with the capability to produce bomb-grade fissile material and develop nuclear weapons, if it chose to do so. Iran’s uranium enrichment program continues, but it is restricted and monitored by the nuclear deal. In contrast, North Korea has the material to produce a small number of nuclear weapons, announced its withdrawal from the NPT, and tested nuclear devices. Uncertainty persists about how many additional nuclear devices North Korea has assembled beyond those it has tested. In September 2005, Pyongyang “committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.”

Iran:

  • No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the institution charged with verifying that states are not illicitly building nuclear weapons, concluded in 2003 that Iran had undertaken covert nuclear activities to establish the capacity to indigenously produce fissile material.
  • July 2015: Iran and six world powers negotiated a long-term agreement to verify and significantly reduce Iran's capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons.
  • As part of this agreement, the IAEA and Iran concluded an investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons-related activities. The agency concluded that Iran had an organized program to pursue nuclear weapons prior to 2003. Some of these activities continued through 2009, but there were no indications of weaponization activities taking place after that date.

North Korea:

  • Estimated as of January 2018 to have approximately 10-20 warheads and the fissile material for 30-60 nuclear weapons.
  • While there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding North Korea's fissile material stockpile and production, particularly on the uranium enrichment side, North Korea is estimated to have 20-40 kilograms of plutonium and 250-500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. The estimated annual production of fissile material is enough for 6-7 weapons.
  • North Korea operates its 5-megawatt heavy-water graphite-moderated reactor used to extract plutonium in the past for nuclear warheads on an intermittent basis since August 2013. There has also been activity at North Korea's reprocessing facility in 2016, indicating that Pyongyang has likely separated plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel. 
  • North Korea unveiled a centrifuge facility in 2010, but it is unclear if Pyongyang is using the facility to produce highly-enriched uranium for weapons.
  • By 2020, experts estimate that North Korea could have anywhere between 20-100 nuclear warheads based on the rate of its stockpile growth and technological improvements. 

Syria:

  • September 2007: Israel conducted an airstrike on what U.S. officials alleged was the construction site of a nuclear research reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor.
  • The extent of Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation is unclear, but is believed to have begun in 1997.
  • Investigations into U.S. claims uncovered traces of undeclared man-made uranium particles at both the site of the destroyed facility and Syria’s declared research reactor.
  • Syria has not adequately cooperated with the IAEA to clarify the nature of the destroyed facility and procurement efforts that could be related to a nuclear program.


States That Had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at One Time:

  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states.
  • South Africa secretly developed but subsequently dismantled its small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991.
  • Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors. The U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein definitively ended his regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003.
  • Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.
     

Sources: Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, International Panel on Fissile Materials, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Posted: June 21, 2018

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) at a Glance

June 2018

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: June 2018

A fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) is a proposed international agreement that would prohibit the production of the two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium. Discussions on this subject have taken place at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), a body of 65 member nations established as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament. The CD operates by consensus and is often stagnant, impeding progress on an FMCT.

Those nations that joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-weapon states are already prohibited from producing or acquiring fissile material for weapons. An FMCT would provide new restrictions for the five recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS—United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China), and for the four nations that are not NPT members (Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea).

Background

Efforts to curb the spread of nuclear material and technology began only a short time after the world was introduced to the destructive potential of atomic weaponry. In 1946 the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, authored in part by Manhattan Project physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, advocated for an Atomic Development Agency to regulate fissile material and ensure that state rivalries over the technology did not occur. Ultimately, neither Dean Acheson or David Lilienthal presented the U.S. plan to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC). Instead, Bernard Baruch presented the Baruch Plan, which also would have established an Atomic Development Authority that answered to the UN Security-Council. The plan called for the United States to disassemble its nuclear arsenal, but only after an agreement had been reached assuring the United States that the Soviets would not be able to acquire a bomb. The plan failed to achieve consensus within the UNAEC.

Much later, UN resolution 78/57 L, which passed unanimously in 1993, called for a “non-discriminatory, multi-lateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

In March 1995, the CD took up a mandate presented by Canadian Ambassador Gerald Shannon. The Shannon Mandate established an ad hoc committee that was directed to negotiate an FMCT by the end of the 1995 session. A lack of consensus over verification provisions, as well as desires to hold parallel negotiations on outer space arms control issues, prevented negotiations from getting underway. China and Russia articulated a desire to hold parallel negotiations on Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), a point which has further stalled efforts to begin FMCT negotiations.

The U.S. and an FMCT

The George W. Bush administration submitted an FMCT proposal at the CD in 2006 which proposed a fifteen year ban on the production of HEU and plutonium, two key components of nuclear weapons. The proposal did not include any verification measures, and would have applied to only the five recognized NWS.

The Obama administration’s support of an FMCT was displayed prominently in a speech President Obama delivered in Prague in 2009, including dropping the previous administration’s opposition to FMCT verification. Obama stated that, “the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons.” A group of governmental experts issued a report in 2015 making recommendations on taking forward an FMCT. In March 2016, the United States formulated a proposal at the Conference on Disarmament to establish a working group to negotiate an FMCT.

The Trump administration stated that it would support the negotiation of an FMCT at the 2018 NPT Preparatory Committee. 

Global Fissile Stockpile Estimates

The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia have all declared that they have stopped producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. It is widely believed that China has also stopped producing fissile material for nuclear weapons, ceasing production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in 1987, and plutonium in 1991.

According to the International Panel on Fissile Material’s (IPFM) 2015 Global Fissile Material Report, the global stockpile of HEU in 2015 consisted of roughly 1,340 ± 125 tons, which would be enough material to create 76,000 first simple, first generation nuclear weapons. Roughly 99% of the HEU stock is owned by nuclear weapon states, and Russia and the United States have the largest stocks. India, Pakistan, and North Korea are believed to have ongoing production operations for HEU.

IPFM estimates the global stockpile of separated plutonium at 520 ± 10 tons, of which, less than half was produced for use in weapons. About 88% of plutonium is held by states with nuclear weapons that are NPT signatories, and most of the remaining 12% is held by Japan, which has over 47 tons of plutonium. Though the five NWS no longer produce weapons-grade plutonium, production continues in India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan. 

 

Fissile Material Production End Dates

 

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

Weapon Grade Plutonium

United States

1992

1987

Russia

1987-88

1994

United Kingdom

1963

1989

France

1996

1992

China

1987-89*

1990*

India

Ongoing

Ongoing

Israel

Status Unknown

Ongoing

Pakistan

Ongoing

Ongoing

North Korea**

Status Unknown

Ongoing

 

*While information on China’s fissile material stocks have remained a secret, China is widely believed to have stopped production of fissile material.

Points of Contention

In order for negotiations to begin on an FMCT, Pakistan will have to remove its opposition vote, and a consensus to move forward with negotiations must be reached. Pakistan has been primarily concerned that an FMCT would lock them into a disadvantageous position relative to India’s superior nuclear stockpile. Consequently, Islamabad would like an FMCT to include current fissile material stockpiles, instead of just capping future production, a position shared by several other countries.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Posted: June 18, 2018

Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances

March 2018

Contact: Kelsey DavenportDirector for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 462-8270; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 462-8270 x104

Updated: March 2018

The world’s nuclear-armed states each have declared, to varying degrees of specificity, when and under what circumstances they reserve the option to use their nuclear weapons. Most nuclear-armed states have also declared under what circumstances they rule out the use of nuclear weapons. These “positive” and “negative” nuclear declaratory policies are designed to deter adversaries from military actions and to assure non-nuclear weapon states and allies they will not be subject to a direct nuclear attack on their territory and should be dissuaded from pursuing nuclear weapons themselves.

There is no universal agreement among nuclear weapon states on the first-use of intercontinental ballistic missiles.Today, most nuclear-armed states, including the United States, reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Only two nuclear-armed states (China and India) have declared no-first-use policies, by which they commit themselves to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack.

All five of the nuclear-weapon states recognized in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have issued a set of “negative” nuclear security assurances, which were recognized by the UN Security Council in Resolution 984 (1995). These pledges, however, are nonbinding and some nuclear-weapon states reserve the right to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states under certain circumstances. The following is a more detailed summary of each country’s policies.

United States

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report declared that there are four missions for the U.S. nuclear arsenal: deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attacks, assurance of allies and partners, achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and capacity to hedge against an uncertain future.

The document reiterated that the United States does not maintain a nuclear “no first-use policy” on the grounds that U.S. response options must remain flexible to deter nuclear and non-nuclear attacks. “Non-nuclear capabilities,” according to the report, “can complement but not replace U.S. nuclear capabilities” for the purpose of deterrence. In the event that deterrence were to fail, the report also declared that Washington could use nuclear weapons to end a conflict on the “best achievable terms for the United States.”

The NPR dictates that the use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies. It defines “extreme circumstances,” which the 2010 NPR did not, to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

The United States issued assurances not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-state NPT members in 1978, 1995 and 2010 except in the case of “an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear- weapon State.” In 1997 the United States issued a classified presidential decision directive (PDD) reaffirming these pledges.

The 2018 NPR repeated existing U.S. negative security assurances by stating that Washington “will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” However, the report qualified that the United States reserves the right to amend its negative assurance if warranted by “the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies.” At the February 2 press briefing following the report’s release, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood clarified that this may include cyber capabilities.

For a more details, see U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance.

China
China issued negative security assurances at the United Nations in 1978 and 1995 and is the only NPT nuclear-weapon state that has declared a no-first-use policy, which it reiterated in February 2018.

At the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Fu Ying, chairperson of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, said that “China is also committed to the principle of non-first-use of nuclear weapons, and no-use of nuclear weapons against any nuclear state [sic] at any circumstances and no-use of nuclear weapons against nuclear-free zones.”

In its April 1995 letter to UN members outlining its negative security assurances, China declared that it “undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances.” China consistently reiterates this policy in its defense white papers. The most recent, edited in 2016, stated that “China will unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any other country.”

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, China also called for the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument to prohibit first-use of nuclear weapons and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-weapon free zones.

France
France maintains a policy of calculated ambiguity regarding first-use of nuclear weapons. A 2013 French government defense white paper states that “the use of nuclear weapons would only be conceivable in extreme circumstances of legitimate self-defence” and that “[b]eing strictly defensive, nuclear deterrence protects France from any state-led aggression against its vital interests, of whatever origin and in whatever form.”

France issued negative security assurances at the UN in 1987 and 1995. In its 1995 statement to the UN, France pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT “except in the case of invasion or any other attack on France, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, or against its allies or a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a State in alliance or association with a nuclear-weapon State.”

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, France called for nuclear possessor states to “work resolutely to advance disarmament in all its aspects; in which the doctrines of nuclear powers will restrict the role of nuclear weapons solely to extreme circumstances of self-defence where their vital interests are under threat.”

Russia
According to the December 2014 Russian Military Doctrine Paper published by the Ministry of Defense, Russia reserves the option to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack involving any weapon of mass destruction, and in response to conventional attacks “when the very existence of the state is under threat.” This phrase suggests a willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states in the event of an impending conventional military defeat.

In 1993, Russia moved away from Leonid Brezhnev’s 1982 no-first-use pledge when the Russian Defense Ministry under Boris Yeltsin adopted a new doctrine on nuclear weapons. The new policy ruled out the first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT but said nothing about use against states possessing nuclear weapons. Since the 1993 shift, many Western analysts have come to believe that Russia pursues an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy—the notion that, in the event of a large-scale conventional conflict, the Kremlin would use or threaten to use low-yield nuclear weapons to coerce an adversary to cease attacks or withdraw. However, other analysts maintain that this is not the case. 

Russia issued unilateral negative security assurances not to attack non-nuclear-weapon states in 1978 and 1995, but stated in 1995 that those pledges would not apply “in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the Russian Federation, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.”

United Kingdom
In the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review document, the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with the treaty’s obligations. The United Kingdom appears to leave open the option to use nuclear weapons in response to WMD threats, such as chemical or biological attacks, if such threats emerge. Currently London acknowledged that there is “no direct threat” posed by WMDs to the United Kingdom in the 2015 document, but the government reserves the right to “review this assurance if the future threat, development or proliferation of these weapons make it necessary.”

The United Kingdom issued a unilateral negative nuclear security assurance in 1978 and again in 1995. In the 1995 pledge the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states party to the NPT. This assurance does not apply, however, to any state acting “in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state” that attacks the United Kingdom, its territories or allies, or any state in breach of its commitments under the NPT.

India
India has a no-first-use doctrine. As the government stated in a draft nuclear doctrine in August 1999, “India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.” Although India has adopted a no-first-use policy, some Indian strategists have called the pledge’s validity into question. The credibility of this pledge was weakened in 2009 when Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor suggested that the government should review the pledge in light of the growing threat of Pakistan. In 2010, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon stated that India's nuclear doctrine was “no first use against non-nuclear weapons states.” MIT professor Vipin Narang has also observed that “the force requirements India needs in order to credibly threaten assured retaliation against China may allow it to pursue more aggressive strategies—such as escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’—against Pakistan.”

During debate at the Conference on Disarmament in 2014, India’s representative reiterated the government’s no-first-use policy and the policy on nonuse against non-nuclear-weapon states and said that India was “prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements.”

Israel
Given that Israel has not acknowledged possession of nuclear weapons, it has not made any statements regarding its willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. Israel generally abstains from voting on an annual UN General Assembly resolution that would establish international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would not be used against them, including recently in resolution 72/25 in 2017.

Pakistan
Pakistan has only issued negative nuclear security guarantees to those states that are not armed with nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s position regarding when and whether it would use nuclear weapons in a conflict with another nuclear-armed state, namely India, is far more ambiguous. Pakistani officials have indicated that the circumstances surrounding its no-first-use policy must remain deliberately imprecise, as demarcating clear redlines could allow provocations by the Indian military just below any established threshold for use.

In a 2015 statement, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is one-dimensional, that is it for "stopping Indian aggression before it happens" “not for starting a war.” He also said in 2015 that Pakistan is capable of answering aggression from India due to Islamabad’s development of short-range tactical nuclear weapons. In July 2016, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif suggested Islamabad would use nuclear weapons for defensive purposes in armed conflict with India.

North Korea
Following its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, Pyongyang declared a policy of no-first-use under the condition that hostile forces do not encroach on its sovereignty. The Jan. 6, 2016 government statement said that North Korea, as a “responsible nuclear weapons state, will neither be the first to use nuclear weapons…as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty.”  North Korea has re-affirmed this stance at the May 2016 Worker's Party Congress in Pyongyang and in the 2018 New Year's Address. North Korea, however, routinely threatens to use nuclear weapons against perceived threats, including against the United States and South Korea, a non-nuclear-weapon state.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Posted: March 16, 2018

U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance

March 2018

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director; (202) 463-8270 x107; Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102; Kingston ReifDirector of Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: March 2018

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review repeats exisiting U.S. negative security assurances by stating that Washington "will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations." Previously, in the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the United States declared that it would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are members in good standing of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Before 2010 successive administrations had maintained a policy of "strategic ambiguity" by refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical weapons attacks, even from NPT member states.

Background

The 2018 NPR upholds but adds qualifications to earlier versions of U.S. "negative security assurances" first enunciated in 1978 and reaffirmed in 1995. Most notably, the report stipulates that the United States reserves the right to amend its negative assurance if warranted by "the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies," including cyber capabilites.

The 1995 formulation left open the option to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that were “in association or alliance with” a nuclear-weapon state—generally understood to be a reference to the Warsaw Pact allies of the Soviet Union. The United States also specified at that time that non-nuclear-weapon states had to be in compliance with the NPT to be eligible for this assurance.

In 1995, UN Security Council Resolution 984 recognized the U.S. assurances and similar ones from Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. These coordinated assurances were a key part of the multilateral decision to indefinitely extend the NPT that year.

Outside of the NPT context, however, senior U.S. officials maintained "strategic ambiguity" about Washington’s military options in key situations.  For example, just before the U.S. war with Iraq in 1991, former Secretary of State James Baker told Tariq Aziz, Iraq's foreign minister, that if "you use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces, the American people will demand vengeance and we have the means to exact it." Baker said that "it is entirely possible and even likely, in my opinion, that Iraq did not use its chemical weapons against our forces because of that warning. Of course, that warning was broad enough to include the use of all types of weapons that American possessed."

Similarly, in April 1996, in reference to a suspected Libyan chemical weapons facility at Tarhunah, then-Secretary of Defense William Perry said that "if some nation were to attack the United States with chemical weapons, then they would have to fear the consequences of a response from any weapon in our inventory."  Perry noted that "in every situation that I have seen so far, nuclear weapons would not be required for response."

The 2001 NPR report maintained the possibility that U.S. nuclear forces could be used against non-nuclear nations. In addition to nuclear-armed China, the 2001 NPR cited five states that at the time did not have nuclear weapons (Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria) as driving "requirements for nuclear strike capabilities."  All five states were at the time suspected of nuclear weapons ambitions and were believed to have biological and/or chemical weapons or programs.  In February 2002, then-State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said it was U.S. policy that "[i]f a weapon of mass destruction is used against the United States or its allies, we will not rule out any specific type of military response."

In September 2002, the classified National Security Presidential Directive 17 was signed, which stated that "the United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force—including potentially nuclear weapons — to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies." 

Following the release of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review report, President Barack Obama announced on April 6, that the United States was updating its negative security assurance policy to emphasize “the importance of nations meeting their NPT and nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”

As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained in an interview broadcast April 11, 2010 on CBS’s Face the Nation, negative security assurances are “not a new thing. The new part of this is saying that we would not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state that attacked us with chemical and biological weapons.”

As for chemical weapons, Gates said April 11 that “[T]ry as we might, we could not find a credible scenario where a chemical weapon could have the kind of consequences that would warrant a nuclear response.”  On biological weapons, the 2010 NPR hedges: “Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat.”

For both scenarios, Gates said April 6 that “[i]f any state eligible for this assurance were to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies or partners, it would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response.” And for states that have nuclear weapons or are not in compliance with the NPT all options are on the table—including the use of nuclear weapons first or in response to a non-nuclear attack.

Under the NPT, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Three other states, India, Pakistan, and Israel, possess nuclear weapons but never joined the NPT. 

2018 NPR

Although the 2018 NPR report makes clear that the primary role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to “deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners,” the weapons serve other missions, too, including deterring non-nuclear attacks, assuring U.S. allies and partners, achieving U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and hedging against future uncertainty. This falls short of a declaration that the “sole purpose” of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack and represents a significant break with past U.S. efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in the world.

The 2018 NPR report does state that the first use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances,” but it defines these circumstances more broadly than previous reports, including in the definition “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.” Although the policy does not explicitly define “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood clarified at the February 2 press conference following the report’s release that this could include chemical and biological attacks, large-scale conventional aggression, and cyberattacks. The scenarios provided for in the 2018 NPR report are much broader than the “narrow range of contingencies” laid out in the 2010 report.

The document also breaks from the 2010 report on the role of non-nuclear forces. Whereas the 2010 report called for enhanced non-nuclear capability to maintain deterrence, the 2018 document states that “non-nuclear capabilities can complement but not replace U.S. nuclear capabilities” for the purpose of deterrence. Moreover, if deterrence fails, the 2018 report also declares that Washington may use nuclear weapons to end a conflict on the “best achievable terms for the United States.”

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Posted: March 16, 2018

Timeline of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

February 2018

Contact: Daryl KimballExecutive Director, (202) 463-7280 x107; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-7280 x104

Updated: February 2018

The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) which entered into force in March 1970, seeks to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons. Its 190 states-parties are classified in two categories: nuclear-weapon states (NWS) consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom—and non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). Under the treaty, all states-parties commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, and the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. These are the first two “pillars” of the treaty. The third pillar ensures that states-parties can access and develop nuclear technology for peaceful applications.
 
With its near-universal membership, the NPT has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement, with only South Sudan, India, Israel, and Pakistan remaining outside the treaty. The treaty, which was indefinitely extended in 1995, calls for a review conference every five years to assess progress on achieving the treaties key objectives and provide opportunities to discuss new measures to strengthen the treaty. For more information on the NPT, see The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at a Glance.
 
The following timeline provides a brief history of events related to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty from the 1950s to the present.

 


Skip to:  1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

1950s

Franz Matsch, Austria’s permanent representative to the UN and Paul Robert Jolles, executive secretary of the 18-nation Preparatory Commission for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sign a conference agreement to secure facilities for the first General Conference of the IAEA on July 24, 1957 in Vienna. (UN Photo/MB)July 29, 1957: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes into existence with the mission of promoting and overseeing the peaceful use of nuclear technology. President Dwight Eisenhower had called for the creation of such an agency in his December 1953 “Atoms for Peace” proposal. 

October 17, 1958: Ireland proposes the first resolution at the United Nations to prohibit the “further dissemination of nuclear weapons.” Back to Top

1960s

December 4, 1961: The UN General Assembly unanimously approves Resolution 1665, which is based on the earlier Irish draft resolution and calls for negotiations to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states. The resolution says that countries already having nuclear weapons would “undertake to refrain from relinquishing control” of them to others and would refrain “from transmitting information for their manufacture to States not possessing” them. Countries without nuclear weapons would agree not to receive or manufacture them. These ideas formed the basis of the NPT.

President John Kennedy addresses the press in March 1963 in Washington, D.C. (National Archive/Newsmakers)March 21, 1963: In a press conference, President John Kennedy warns, “I see the possibility in the 1970s of the president of the United States having to face a world in which 15 or 20 or 25 nations may have [nuclear] weapons. I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard.” Kennedy made this statement a month after a secret Department of Defense memorandum assessed that eight countries—Canada, China, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and West Germany—would likely have the ability to produce nuclear weapons within 10 years. The study also calculated that, beyond 10 years, the future costs of nuclear weapons programs would diminish and that several more states would likely be able to pursue nuclear weapons, especially if unrestricted testing continued. The risks of such proliferation, which the existing nuclear powers sought to curtail or prevent, largely served as an impetus for drafting the NPT. Today the IAEA assesses that nearly 30 states are capable of developing nuclear weapons, but only nine states are known to possess them.

August 17, 1965: The United States submits to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee its first draft proposal to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union submits its first draft a month later.

February 14, 1967: The Treaty of Tlatelolco, establishing Latin America and the Caribbean as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, is opened for signature. It is the first of five such regional zones to be negotiated. The other zones cover Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and Central Asia. For more information, see Nuclear Weapons Free Zones at a Glance.

August 24, 1967: The United States and Soviet Union separately introduce identical draft treaties to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Circa 1967: Israel secretly acquires the capability to build a nuclear explosive device. 

June 12, 1968: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 2373, endorsing the draft text of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The vote was 95 to 4 with 21 abstentions. The four no votes were Albania, Cuba, Tanzania, and Zambia.

July 1, 1968: The NPT is opened for signature and is signed by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Article IX of the treaty established that entry into force would require the treaty’s ratification by those three countries (the treaty’s depositories) and 40 additional states. China and France, the other two recognized nuclear-weapon states under the treaty, do not sign it. China argued the treaty was discriminatory and refused to sign or adhere to it. France, on the other hand, indicated that it would not sign the treaty but “would behave in the future in this field exactly as the States adhering to the Treaty.” Both states acceded to the treaty in 1992. Back to Top

1970s

March 5, 1970: The NPT enters into force with 46 states-parties.

A crater marks the site of India’s May 18, 1974 underground nuclear test at Pokhran in the desert state of Rajasthan. (Punjab Photo/AFP/Getty Images)

September 3, 1974: The IAEA publishes the “trigger list” developed by the Zangger Committee, identifying nuclear items that require IAEA safeguards as a condition of export.

May 30, 1975: The 91 states-parties to the NPT hold the treaty’s first review conference. The treaty members decide to hold such conferences to review the implementation of the treaty every five years.

January 11, 1978: States participating in the voluntary Nuclear Suppliers Group provide the IAEA with a common set of guidelines they will follow in making nuclear exports. The IAEA publishes the guidelines the next month. For more information, see The Nuclear Suppliers Group at a GlanceBack to Top

1980s

Kazakhstani citizens gather to demand a nuclear test ban at the Soviet nuclear test site near Semipalatinsk in August 1989. (UN Photo/MB)The decade was dominated by the Cold War superpower competition of the United States and the Soviet Union. Much of the world held its collective breath during the first years of the decade as tensions and the nuclear arms race heated up between the two rivals, leading to popular anti-nuclear protests worldwide and the nuclear freeze movement in the United States. The international community exhaled a bit in the second half of the decade as the United States and the Soviet Union earnestly sat down at the arms negotiating table and for the first time eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons through the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The two countries also proceeded to negotiate cuts to their strategic nuclear forces, which ultimately would be realized in the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Although the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race was center stage, efforts to advance and constrain the nuclear weapons ambitions and programs of other countries played out in the wings, sometimes as part of the superpower drama. For instance, the United States shunted nonproliferation concerns aside in ignoring Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program because of that country’s role in fighting Soviet forces inside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Iraq, North Korea, and South Africa advanced their nuclear weapons efforts in relative secrecy. In this decade, Iran began to secretly acquire uranium-enrichment-related technology from Pakistani suppliers. Taiwan’s covert nuclear weapons program, however, was squelched by U.S. pressure. Other nonproliferation gains included a joint declaration by Argentina and Brazil to pursue nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes, alleviating fears of a nuclear arms race between the two, and the conclusion of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Pacific. Moreover, the NPT added 30 new states-parties during the decade, including North Korea.

September 7, 1980: The second NPT review conference adopts its final document.

September 25, 1985: The third NPT review conference adopts its final documentBack to Top

 

1990s

The UN Security Council votes on Resolution 687 mandating intrusive inspections in Iraq on April 3, 1991 in New York. (UN Photo/Saw Lwin)

October 4, 1990: The fourth NPT review conference adopts its final document.

April 3, 1991: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 687 requiring Iraq to eliminate its secret nuclear weapons program, which was revealed after the Iraqi defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iraq had illegally pursued the weapons program despite being an NPT state-party. Following the adoption of Resolution 687, the IAEA gained a greater understanding of Iraq’s clandestine program and dismantled and sealed its remnants. The realization that Iraq pursued such a program undetected in spite of agency inspections served as a key impetus to strengthen IAEA safeguards. That effort eventually produced the Model Additional Protocol. The IAEA maintained a presence in Iraq until its inspectors were forced to withdraw in late 1998 on the eve of U.S. and British military strikes against Iraq. 

July 10, 1991: South Africa accedes to the NPT. Two years later, the South African government admits that it had covertly built six completed nuclear devices and then dismantled them before joining the accord. The move to get rid of the weapons was seen as preparation for the coming end of apartheid rule.

March 9, 1992: China accedes to the NPT.

May 23, 1992: Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine sign the Lisbon Protocol committing to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. All three had nuclear weapons when they were Soviet republics. On December 5, 1994, Ukraine becomes the last of the three to accede to the NPT. For more information, see The Lisbon Protocol at a Glance.

August 3, 1992: France, the last of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states, accedes to the NPT.

March 12, 1993: North Korea announces its intention to withdraw from the NPT, but it suspends that withdrawal on June 11, 1993.

April 1, 1993: The IAEA declares North Korea in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations and refers Pyongyang to the UN Security Council.

April 11, 1995: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 984 acknowledging the unilateral pledges by the five nuclear-weapon states not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT. The move is seen as a way to win greater support for the possible indefinite extension of the treaty.

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty states-parties vote to extend the treaty indefinitely May 11, 1995 at  UN Headquarters in New York. (Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images)May 11, 1995: At the fifth NPT review conference, states-parties agree to the treaty’s indefinite extension. Article X of the NPT called for a conference of states-parties to be held 25 years after the treaty’s entry into force in order to determine whether the treaty would remain in force indefinitely or for other additional periods of time. This conference was held in 1995 and began with considerable uncertainty regarding the nature of any extension. Non-nuclear-weapon states, particularly developing countries belonging to the Nonaligned Movement, expressed disappointment with the lack of progress toward nuclear disarmament and feared that a decision to extend the treaty indefinitely would by default enable the nuclear-armed states to hold on to their nuclear arsenals in perpetuity and avoid any accountability in eliminating them. At the conference, Indonesia and South Africa proposed tying the treaty’s indefinite extension to a decision to strengthen the treaty review process. They also linked it to establishment of a set of principles and objectives on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament to hold NPT states-parties, particularly the nuclear-weapon states, accountable to their commitments. These principles and objectives include completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and negotiations on the cutoff of fissile material production for weapons purposes. The conference also adopted a resolution calling for establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. This resolution was intended to win support for the indefinite NPT extension from Arab states, which objected to Israel’s status outside the NPT and its assumed possession of nuclear weapons. Although only a majority of states-parties was required to approve the indefinite extension, the agreed package of decisions obtained enough support that such a vote was not required.

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty September 24, 1996 at UN Headquarters in New York. (Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images)September 24, 1996: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty outlawing nuclear explosions is opened for signature. The treaty has yet to enter into force because not all of the requisite states, including China, India, Pakistan, and the United States, have ratified it. For more information, see The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at a Glance.

May 15, 1997: The IAEA adopts the Model Additional Protocol, a voluntary safeguards agreement for a state to give the agency greater powers to verify that illegal nuclear weapons-related activities are not taking place inside that state. The protocol was developed in response to Iraq’s and North Korea’s illicit actions under the treaty. For more information, see The 1997 Additional Protocol at a Glance. Back to Top

 

2000s

May 22, 2000: The NPT states-parties agree to a final document at the sixth review conference that outlines the so-called 13 steps for progress toward nuclear disarmament, including an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

January 10, 2003: North Korea announces its withdrawal from the NPT. North Korea initially announced its intent to withdraw from the NPT a decade earlier following suspicions of NPT violations. After holding talks with the United States, North Korea suspended that withdrawal in June 1993, just a day before it would have come into effect. It further agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program under a 1994 agreement with the United States. Following the collapse of that agreement in 2002, North Korea declared January 10, 2003, that, with only one day remaining of its previous three-month notification requirement to withdraw from the NPT, its withdrawal would come into effect a day later. Although the legality of North Korea’s process of withdrawal remains in question, subsequent calls by the UN and the IAEA for Pyongyang to return to the NPT demonstrate a recognition that it is currently outside the treaty. Article X of the NPT recognizes the right of states to withdraw from the treaty if that party’s “supreme interests” are jeopardized by “extraordinary events.” States are required to give notice three months in advance before such a withdrawal would take effect. In light of North Korea’s withdrawal and subsequent development of nuclear weapons, the 2005 NPT review conference considered ways to ensure that states that withdraw from the treaty are not able to use technologies and materials obtained while an NPT state-party to pursue nuclear weapons. 

June 6, 2003: The IAEA issues a report detailing Iranian clandestine nuclear activities that Tehran failed to report to the agency, in violation of its safeguards agreement.

December 19, 2003: Libya announces that it will dismantle its WMD programs, including a secret nuclear weapons program, and agrees to IAEA inspections and adherence to an additional protocol. 

May 2, 2005: The seventh NPT review conference opened at the United Nations in New York.

September 19, 2005: North Korea commits to abandoning its nuclear weapons and programs and returning to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards in an agreement of the six-party talks on North Korean denuclearization.

September 24, 2005: The IAEA finds Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations after nearly two years of inspections into its undeclared nuclear activities. The agency in February 2006 refers Iran to the UN Security Council, which adopts three sanctions resolutions against Iran over the next two years. IAEA investigations continue into Iran’s past and current nuclear activities.

During a May 25 press briefing in Seoul, a South Korean meteorological official displays charts that demonstrate the sudden spike in seismic activity at the time of North Korea’s nuclear test earlier that day. (Park Yeong-Dae/AFP/Getty Images)

September 6, 2008: The Nuclear Suppliers Group agrees to permit trade in nuclear material and technology with India, despite that country’s status as a nonparty to the NPT and de facto nuclear-weapon state. Back to Top

2010s

May 3-28 2010: The eighth NPT review conference takes place. For more information, see the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference factsheet.

February 5, 2011: The New START treaty enters into force. The US and Russia agree to reduce strategic and offensive arms. The treaty’s central limits must be reached by February 5, 2018. New START reduces the number of deployed nuclear warheads that each state can have to 1,550 each. For more information, see New START at a Glance.

June 2011: The United Kingdom announces voluntary planned reductions in its deployed nuclear forces set to be accomplished by early 2015. When complete, the United Kingdom will have 120 deployed strategic warheads, with 60 warheads in reserve to support the maintenance and management of the operational force. All excess warheads will be dismantled by the mid-2020s.

November 2012: The conveners (Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the UN) of a conference to establish a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East announce that the conference will be postponed because not all states in the region agree on an agenda for the conference.

March 2013: Norway hosts the first Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, with participation from 127 states. The conference focused on scientific findings on the impact of nuclear weapons use on humans, the environment, and global climate. The five recognized nuclear weapon states (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) all decide not to attend.

February 2013: A second conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Mexico, with 146 states in attendance. The conference called for greater efforts on disarmament and an initiative to reach new international standards and norms to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon states do not participate in the conference. 

May 2014: All five nuclear weapon states sign the protocol for the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (CANFWZ) treaty. The CANFWZ applies to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

November 2014: France ratifies the CANFWZ.

December 2014: A third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Vienna. The US and the UK decide to attend and China choses to send an observer. Over 150 countries and several international and civil society organizations participate. Over 60 countries sign a pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.

January 2015: The United Kingdom ratifies the CANFWZ.

April 27-May 22, 2015: The ninth Review Conference for the NPT is held at the UN in New York, but it ends May 22 without agreement on a final conference document as key states parties could not bridge differences on the process for convening a conference on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and disagreements between the nuclear-weapon states and nonnuclear weapons states over the pace of implementation of Article VI of the treaty and action steps agreed at the 2010 conference. After nearly four weeks of sometimes acrimonious negotiations the conference president, Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, presented a consolidated draft final document for adoption by consensus on the final day of the meeting. But the United States, the U.K. and Canada announced in the in final hours they could not support the formula presented in the document for pursuing a conference to discuss the Middle East zone. 

With the five nuclear weapon states either unable or unwilling to make further disarmament commitments, a group of 107 states endorsed a statement, known as the “Humanitarian Pledge,” which calls on states "to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons."

July 14, 2015: Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curtail Iran sensitive  nuclear fuel cycle activities under strengthened safegaurds.

November 2016: UN General Assembly First Committee approves a resolution for a negotiating conference on a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions. 

July 7, 2017: The second and final round of negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons concluded with states voting 122-1-1 to adopt the treaty.

September 20, 2017: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is opened for signature. 

February 5, 2018: Central limits on strategic nuclear forces imposed by New START take effect. Both Russia and the United States meet the limits

Back to Top

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Posted: February 4, 2018

Chronology of Libya's Disarmament and Relations with the United States

January 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: January 2018

On December 19, 2003, long-time Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi stunned much of the world by renouncing Tripoli’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcoming international inspectors to verify that Tripoli would follow through on its commitment.

Following Gaddafi’s announcement, inspectors from the United States, United Kingdom, and international organizations worked to dismantle Libya’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its longest-range ballistic missiles. Washington also took steps toward normalizing its bilateral relations with Tripoli, which had essentially been cut off in 1981.

Libya’s decision has since been characterized as a model for other states suspected of developing WMD in noncompliance with their international obligations to follow. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker stated May 2, 2005 during the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that Libya’s choice “demonstrates that, in a world of strong nonproliferation norms, it is never too late to make the decision to become a fully compliant NPT state,” noting that Tripoli’s decision has been “amply rewarded.”

Tripoli’s disarmament was also a success story for the U.S. intelligence community, which uncovered and halted some of the assistance Libya was being provided by the nuclear smuggling network led by Pakistani nuclear official Abdul Qadeer Khan. At  that time, the U.S. intelligence community was being harshly criticized for its failures regarding Iraq’s suspected WMD programs.

The factors that induced Libya to give up its weapons programs are debatable. Many Bush administration officials have emphasized the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, as well as the October 2003 interdiction of a ship containing nuclear-related components destined for Libya, as key factors in Tripoli’s decision. But outside experts argue that years of sanctions and diplomatic efforts were more important.

Libya erupted into civil war in February 2011, beginning as a clash between peaceful political protestors and the government. The situation degenerated into armed conflict between loyalist Gaddafi forces and rebel militias and culminated with a toppled regime and an elected General National Congress in August 2012. Disarmament efforts were halted in February 2011 due to the conflict but no chemical or biological weapons were used by either side. U.S. intelligence sources said that the stockpiles of these weapons remain secure. Libya today is again on the path to destroying its weapons of mass destruction capabilities and stockpiles.

The following chronology summarizes key events in the U.S.-Libyan relationship, as well as weapons inspection and dismantlement activities in Libya since its 2003 pledge.

 


Skip to: 1970s, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018.

 

1970s

May 26, 1975: Codifying a commitment to forswear nuclear weapons, Libya ratifies the NPT seven years after it was first signed by the regime of King Idris al-Sanusi.

December 2, 1979: A mob attacks and sets fire to the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. Embassy officials are subsequently withdrawn and the embassy shut down.

December 29, 1979: The U.S. government places Libya on a newly created list of state sponsors of terrorism. Countries on the list are subject to a variety of U.S. sanctions.

1978-1981: Libya purchases more than 2,000 tons of lightly processed uranium from Niger. The Soviet Union completes a 10 megawatt nuclear research reactor at Tajoura.

1980s

July 1980: Libya’s safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enters into force. Such agreements allow the IAEA to inspect certain nuclear-related facilities within a country to verify that the government is not misusing civilian nuclear programs for illicit military purposes.

Libya subsequently pursues clandestine nuclear activities related to both uranium enrichment and plutonium separation. Both plutonium and highly enriched uranium can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

May 6, 1981: The United States closes Libya’s embassy in Washington and expels Libyan diplomats.

August 19, 1981: U.S. aircraft shoot down two Libyan combat jets that fired on them over the Mediterranean Sea.

January 19, 1982: Libya ratifies the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The BWC prohibits states-parties from developing, producing, and stockpiling offensive biological agents.

January 7, 1986: President Ronald Reagan issues an executive order imposing additional economic sanctions against Libya in response to Tripoli’s continued support for international terrorism, including two December 1985 attacks at airports in Rome and Vienna. The order bans most Libyan imports and all U.S. exports to Libya, as well as commercial contracts and travel to the country. Libyan assets in the United States are also frozen. Reagan authorizes the sanctions under the authority of several U.S. laws, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

April 15, 1986: U.S. forces launch aerial bombing strikes against Libya in response to Tripoli’s involvement in an April 5 terrorist attack that killed two American servicemen at a Berlin disco.

December 21, 1988: Pan Am Flight 103 en route from London to New York explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people on board and 11 bystanders on the ground. In November 1991, investigators in the United States and United Kingdom name two Libyan officials as prime suspects in the bombing.

September 19, 1989: The French airliner UTA Flight 772 bound for Paris explodes, killing all 171 people on board. Investigating authorities find evidence of terrorism and indict two Libyan suspects in 1991.

1992

January 21, 1992: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 731 demanding that Libya surrender the suspects in the Pam Am bombing, cooperate with the Pan Am and UTA investigations, and pay compensation to the victims’ families.

March 31, 1992: The Security Council adopts Resolution 748 imposing sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo and air travel restrictions.

1993

November 11, 1993: The Security Council adopts Resolution 883 which tightens sanctions on Libya. The resolution includes a limited freeze of Libyan assets as well as a ban on exports of oil equipment to Libya.

1995

July 1995: According to the IAEA, Libya makes a “strategic decision to reinvigorate its nuclear activities, including gas centrifuge uranium enrichment.”

Gas centrifuges can enrich uranium for use in nuclear reactors as well as for fissile material in nuclear weapons.

1996

April 1996: Libya joins the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone by signing the Treaty of Pelindaba. The treaty prohibits member states from developing, acquiring, and possessing nuclear weapons, but has not yet entered into force.

August 5, 1996: The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) becomes law. The act authorizes the president to impose sanctions against foreign companies that invest more than $40 million a year in Libya’s oil industry.

1999

April 5, 1999: Libya hands over two suspects--each reportedly linked to Libyan intelligence--to Dutch authorities for trial in the bombing of Pam Am Flight 103.

Immediately following the handover, as well as France’s acknowledgement that Tripoli had cooperated with French officials investigating the UTA bombing, the Security Council suspends sanctions against Libya originally imposed in 1992.

May 1999: Libyan officials offer to eliminate their chemical weapons programs during secret talks with the United States, according to Martin Indyk, then assistant secretary of state. In a March 10, 2004 Financial Times article, Indyk reveals that U.S. officials insisted Libya reach a settlement with the Pan Am victims’ families, as well as accept responsibility for the bombing, before Washington negotiate with Libya about its chemical weapons.

1999-2000: U.S. intelligence agencies begin to obtain new information that Libya is “reinvigorating its nuclear, missile, and biological [weapons] programs,” according to a March 31, 2005 report from the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. By 2000, “information was uncovered that revealed shipments of centrifuge technology from the [proliferation network run by former Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan] were destined for Libya,” the report says.

Following the suspension of UN sanctions, Libya also begins increasing its efforts to obtain chemical weapons. According to a 2003 CIA Report, Tripoli reestablishes “contacts with sources of expertise, parts, and precursor chemicals abroad, primarily in Western Europe.”

2001

January 31, 2001: Three judges hand down verdicts in the Pan Am trial. One man, Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, is found guilty of 270 counts of murder. The other suspect, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, is acquitted.

November 19, 2001: Speaking at the BWC Review Conference, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton states that Libya may be violating the treaty by actively seeking to develop or deploy offensive biological weapons. This is the first time the United States has accused noncompliant states by name at a diplomatic conference.

2002

May 6, 2002: Bolton indicates in a speech to the Heritage Foundation that Libya and Syria received dual-use technology that could be used for producing biological weapons through trade with Cuba. Dual-use goods are items having both civilian and military uses.

August 3, 2002: President George W. Bush signs the “ILSA Extension Act of 2001” which extends the provisions of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act for an additional five years and lowers the $40 million investment threshold for the possible imposition of sanctions to $20 million.

2003

February 12, 2003: CIA Director George Tenet, in written testimony to Congress, notes “Libya clearly intends to re-establish its offensive chemical weapons capability.”

Early March 2003: Libyan intelligence officials approach British intelligence officials and offer to enter negotiations regarding the elimination of Libya’s WMD programs. The subsequent negotiations, which include U.S. officials, are kept secret.

Former National Security Council official Flynt Leverett later writes in a January 23, 2004 New York Times article that Washington offers an “explicit quid pro quo” to Tripoli regarding its WMD programs. U.S. officials indicate that the United States will remove its sanctions on Libya if the latter verifiably dismantles these programs, according to Leverett.

The meeting occurs prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq later that month.

April 5, 2003: Bolton says in an interview with Radio Sawa that the invasion of Iraq “sends a message” to Libya, as well as Iran and Syria, “that the cost of their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high.”

September 12, 2003: In a 13-0 vote, the Security Council formally lifts sanctions imposed on Libya. The United States and France abstain. The Security Council’s action comes in response to Libya’s August 15 agreement to compensate the victims of the Pan Am attack, as well as Tripoli’s formal acceptance of responsibility for that bombing.

Libya agreed September 11 to offer additional compensation to the families of the 1989 UTA bombing victims. Libya first agreed in 1999 to pay the families, but agreed to increase the amount after the Pan Am victims were promised more. A final agreement is reached in January 2004.

U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham explains that the United States will not lift sanctions because of “serious concerns about other aspects of Libyan behavior,” including Tripoli’s WMD programs. Cunningham states that “Libya’s continued nuclear infrastructure upgrades raise concerns.” He accuses Tripoli of “actively developing biological and chemical weapons.”

Testifying before the House International Relations Committee four days later, Bolton reiterates his previous threat stating that countries developing WMD “will pay a steep price for their efforts.”

October 4, 2003: German and Italian authorities interdict a ship en route to Libya containing centrifuge components manufactured in Malaysia. Bush later touts the interdiction as a key intelligence success during a February 11, 2004 speech at the National Defense University. Some U.S. officials subsequently assert that the interdiction played a major role in convincing Libya to come clean on its weapons programs.

December 19, 2003: Libya’s Foreign Ministry publicly renounces the country’s WMD programs. Tripoli promises to eliminate its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, adhere to its commitments under the NPT and BWC, as well as accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Libya also promises to limit the range and payloads of its missiles to conform to guidelines set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Additionally, Libya agrees to conclude an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. The protocol expands the IAEA’s authority to check for clandestine nuclear activities. Libya invites inspectors to verify compliance with the agreements and assist in the dismantling of its weapons programs.

U.S. and British officials hail the announcement. Bush says that “far better” relations between Washington and Tripoli are possible if the latter fully implements its commitments and “demonstrates its seriousness.” Bush promises U.S. help to “build a more free and prosperous” Libya if the country achieves “internal reform.”

December 27, 2003: IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei visits Libya to begin the process of assessing and verifying Libya’s nuclear dismantlement activities.

2004

January 4, 2004: The London Sunday Times publishes an interview with Gaddafi’s son, who reports that Libya obtained designs for a nuclear weapon from the Khan network.

January 6, 2004: Libya ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits the explosive testing of nuclear weapons. The treaty has not yet entered into force.

Tripoli also accedes to the CWC. Under the convention, Libya must completely destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles and production capacity by April 29, 2007. Upon joining the CWC, Libya declares the possession of its chemical weapons materials and capabilities as follows: 24.7 metric tonnes (MT) of sulfur mustard; 1,390 MT of precursor chemicals; 3,563 unloaded chemical weapons munitions (aerial bombs); and 3 former chemical weapons production facilities. The OPCW inspections verify these materials and capabilities.

January 18, 2004: U.S. and British officials arrive in Libya to begin elimination and removal of WMD designs and stockpiles. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter later tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee February 26 that the Libyan officials are “forthcoming about the myriad aspects” of Libya’s WMD programs.

January 24, 2004: Representative Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee, becomes the first U.S. lawmaker to visit Libya in decades.

January 27, 2004: U.S. officials airlift about 55,000 pounds of documents and components from Libya’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs to the United States. The nuclear-related material includes uranium hexafluoride (the feedstock for centrifuges), two complete second-generation centrifuges from Pakistan, and additional centrifuge parts, equipment, and documentation.

On March 15, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham calls the airlift “only the tip of the iceberg,” representing just 5 percent of the total amount of material the United States will eventually recover from Libya.

February 4, 2004: Khan reveals that, for two decades, he secretly provided North Korea, Libya, and Iran with technical and material assistance for making nuclear weapons.

February 20, 2004: The IAEA releases a report detailing Libya’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement and outlining Tripoli’s nascent nuclear program. Specifically, the report describes Libya’s gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program, imports of nuclear material, and designs of facilities for uranium conversion. Libya’s IAEA safeguards agreement required Tripoli to report some of these activities, but the government failed to do so.

The report says that Libya ordered 10,000 advanced centrifuges and received two of them in 2000. Moreover, the report discloses that Libya secretly separated small amounts of plutonium from the spent fuel of the Tajuora Research Reactor during the 1980s.

Although the report states that Libya received nuclear weapons design documents from the Khan network, the IAEA cites no evidence that Libya ever undertook steps to build a nuclear weapon.

February 26, 2004: The United States lifts its Libya travel ban. U.S. citizens are allowed to make travel-related expenditures in Libya, and businesses may enter negotiations to re-acquire pre-sanctions holdings inside Libya. The United States also offers Libya the possibility of opening a diplomatic interests section in Washington.

DeSutter tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the same day that Libya’s decision to abandon its weapons programs should become “a model for other proliferators to mend their ways and help restore themselves to international legitimacy.”

February 27, 2004: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international body charged with verifying CWC compliance, confirms that Libyan officials provided a “partial initial declaration of their chemical weapons stockpiles” and promised a complete declaration to the organization by March 5, 2004.
The OPCW begins oversight of chemical weapons destruction activities in Libya.

February 28, 2004: At the end of an African Union summit, Gaddafi calls upon other states to abandon their WMD programs. Nuclear weapons, he says, make states less secure.

March 4, 2004: The OPCW reports that “[o]ver 3,300 [empty] aerial bombs, specifically designed to disperse chemical warfare agent, have been individually inventoried, then irreversibly destroyed under stringent international verification.”

March 5, 2004: Libyan officials submit a complete declaration of the state’s chemical weapons stockpile and facilities.

March 19, 2004: Two OPCW inspection teams completed the initial inspection and verified Libya's January declaration.

 

 

March 8, 2004: The United States, with assistance from British and IAEA officials, arranges for 13 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, a fissile material, to be airlifted from Libya to Russia for disposal.

March 10, 2004: Libya signs an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and reaffirms a December 29 commitment to behave as if the protocol had already entered into force.

DeSutter tells the House International Relations Committee that the United States has removed five 800 kilometer range Scud-C missiles from Libya, as well as additional missile and centrifuge components.

The IAEA Board of Governors adopts a resolution declaring that Libya’s past clandestine nuclear activities “constituted noncompliance” with its IAEA safeguards agreement. Nonetheless, the board welcomes the cooperation and openness of Libyan officials since December 2003 and recommends that ElBaradei report Libya’s noncompliance to the Security Council “for information purposes only.” The IAEA is required to report noncompliance with safeguards agreements to the Security Council, which can then take action against the offending state.

March 23, 2004: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns meets with Libyan officials, including Gaddafi, in Tripoli. A State Department spokesperson calls the meetings “constructive” and reflective of the “step-by-step normalization” of relations between Libya and the United States. Burns is the most senior U.S. official to visit Libya since 1969.

April 22, 2004: In response to the March IAEA resolution, the Security Council issues a president statement “commending” Libya for its cooperation with the agency.

April 23, 2004: The White House terminates the application of ILSA with respect to Libya. Press Secretary Scott McClellan also announces that the Treasury Department has modified sanctions imposed under the authority of IEEPA. McClellan notes that “the resumption of most commercial activities” between Libya and the United States will now be permitted.

May 13, 2004: Libya announces it will end military trade with countries it deems “source[s] of concern for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. officials explain that the Libyan announcement follows a private agreement for Libya to end all its military dealings with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. However, the Libyan foreign ministry later denies that the announcement is aimed at Syria.

May 26, 2004: Libya submits its initial declarations required by its additional protocol arrangement with the IAEA.

May 28, 2004: ElBaradei issues a report to the IAEA board detailing the agency’s progress in verifying Libya’s declarations regarding its nuclear program. According to the report, “Libyan authorities have provided prompt, unhindered access to all locations requested by the [a]gency and to all relevant equipment and material declared to be in Libya.”

Speaking June 14 to the board, ElBaradei says questions remain regarding the origin of nuclear material Libya imported during 2000 and 2001, as well as the source of enriched uranium particles found on Libya’s centrifuge equipment. The agency has contacted other governments to investigate entities involved in providing nuclear technology to Libya.

June 28, 2004: Announcing that Washington and Tripoli will resume direct diplomatic ties, Burns inaugurates a new U.S. Liaison Office in Libya.

September 20, 2004: The United States lifts most of its remaining sanctions on Libya. Bush terminates the national emergency declared in 1986 under IEEPA, as well as revokes related executive orders. This action ends the remaining sanctions under IEEPA and ends the need for Treasury Department licenses for trade with Libya.

The United States also permits direct air flights between the two countries, as well as unfreezes Libyan assets in the United States. Additionally, Bush waives prohibitions on extending certain U.S. export assistance programs to Libya and on the ability of U.S. taxpayers to claim credits for taxes paid to Libya.

Libya is still subject to some sanctions as it remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. These sanctions include prohibitions on arms exports and Department of Defense contracts. The United States also is required to oppose loans from international financial institutions to such countries and impose export controls on dual-use items.

Two days later, DeSutter tells the House International Relations Committee that verification of Libya’s disarmament tasks is “essentially complete,” adding that the United States, working with the United Kingdom, has completed verifying “with reasonable certainty that Libya has eliminated, or has set in place the elimination of” its weapons programs.

August 30, 2004: ElBaradei issues another report to the IAEA board stating that information Tripoli has given to the agency about its past nuclear activities “appear[s] to be consistent with the information available to and verified by” the IAEA.

According to the report, the IAEA continues to investigate several outstanding issues regarding Libya’s nuclear weapons program, particularly assistance Tripoli received from the Khan network. Cooperation from other countries is “essential” for determining the role of the network in supplying Libya, the report adds.

October 11, 2004: European Union foreign ministers lift a 20 year-old arms embargo on Libya, allowing EU countries to export arms and other military equipment to that country. Part of the EU rationale for lifting the embargo is to improve Libya’s capacity to patrol its maritime borders and prevent illegal immigration to the EU from North Africa, a particular concern of southern European states such as Italy.

European arms transfers are still governed by the EU’s Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and national export control laws.

2005

March 25, 2005: In a letter to The Washington Post, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan declares for the first time publicly the U.S. assessment that the uranium hexafluoride found in Libya originated in North Korea. According to McClellan, this material was transferred to Libya via the A.Q. Khan illicit trafficking network.

October 20, 2005: Libya signs an agreement with Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL to provide its Tajoura research reactor with low-enriched uranium (LEU) as part of an effort to convert the reactor from using HEU to LEU.

2006

May 15, 2006: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces the U.S. establishment of full diplomatic relations with Libya. As part of that move, President George W. Bush submits a report to Congress certifying that Tripoli had not engaged in acts of terrorism in the previous six months and had provided assurances that it would not support terrorism, thereby allowing Libya to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

June 26, 2006: The United Kingdom and Libya sign a “Joint Letter of Peace and Security,” in which London pledges to seek UN Security Council action if another state attacks Libya with chemical or biological weapons and pledges to aid Libya in strengthening its defense capabilities.  Both states also announce that they will work jointly to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

July 27, 2006: IAEA and U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration officials help remove the last remaining quantity of fresh HEU from Libya.  Three kilograms of Russian-origin HEU from the Tajoura research reactor in Libya are returned to Russia for disposal.

December 2006: The OPCW establishes Dec. 31, 2010 as the deadline for Libya to destroy its mustard gas stockpiles and Dec. 31, 2011 as the deadline to destroy its remaining chemical weapon precursors.

2007

June 14, 2007: Libya annuls its contract on chemical weapons destruction with the United States due to dissatisfaction with its provisions on liability, financing, and facility ownership. Under its agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, these chemicals must be eliminated by the end of 2010. Libya did not indicate how it intended to meet this commitment.

July 25, 2007: France and Libya sign a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy cooperation.  The agreement outlines a plan for the eventual construction of a nuclear desalination plant.

2008

January 3, 2008: Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam pays an official visit to the United States and signs a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. This is the first official visit by a Libyan Foreign Minister to the United States since 1972.

August 14, 2008: The United States and Libya sign the U.S -Libya Claims Settlement Agreement, providing full compensation for victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of the Berlin disco. Under the terms of the agreement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certified to Congress that Libya paid $1.5 billion to cover terrorism related claims against Tripoli. The agreement also addressed Libyan claims arising from U.S. military actions in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986 to the amount of $300 million.

September 12, 2008: An IAEA Board report says that the agency has completed its investigation of Libya’s past nuclear activities and found that Tripoli had addressed all of the outstanding issues related to its past nuclear activity.

2009

November 20, 2009: Libya unexpectedly halts the shipment of the remaining 5.2 kilograms of HEU in spent fuel from its Tajoura research reactor. The material was scheduled to be flown to Russia for disposal that same month as part of an agreement between the Libya, Russia, and the United States. According to State Department cables obtained by the Guardian in 2010, U.S. Energy Department experts said that concerns about the safety and security of the material presented a high level of urgency, and the HEU needed to be removed within one month.

December 21, 2009: Libya allows a Russian-chartered plane to leave the country carrying the last of its HEU spent fuel stocks for disposal in Russia after a month-long delay.

December 2009: The OPCW approves Libya’s request to extend the deadline for the destruction of its mustard gas stockpiles from December 2010 to May 2011. According to the OPCW report for 2009, Libya destroyed 39% of its chemical weapons precursors by the end of the year but destruction of its mustard gas had not yet begun.

2010

July 2010: The State Department’s arms control Compliance Report says that Libya is complying with its Biological Weapons Convention and  nuclear nonproliferation obligations. It also says that Libya has made progress destroying its chemical weapons stockpile but has not yet met its obligations to adopt legislation to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.

October 2010: The destruction of one of Libya's chemical agents, sulfur mustard, is initiated.

2011

 

February 23, 2011: OPCW spokesperson Michael Luhan tells the Associated Press that Libya destroyed “nearly 13.5 metric tons” of its mustard gas in 2010, accounting for “about 54 percent of its stockpile.”

February 25, 2011: Citing security concerns due to ongoing political unrest, U.S. officials announce the suspension of U.S. embassy operations in Libya.

February 26, 2011: United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1970 condemning the lethal actions taken by Gaddafi forces against civilian political protestors.  The resolution also places financial and travel restrictions on regime officials.  The OPCW announced that machinery breakdowns brought to a halt ongoing destruction of sulfur mustard amid rising tensions.

March 17, 2011: The United Nations Security Council adopts Resolution 1973 authorizing an international response to the Libyan civil war.  The resolution creates a no-fly zone over Libya, strengthens an arms embargo and allows forcible inspection of suspected weapons trafficking ships and planes traveling to the country.

March – October 2011: NATO enforces the no-fly zone established by Resolution 1973.  Fighting continues between loyalist Gaddafi forces and the rebel militia.  The National Transition Council (NTC) is generally internationally recognized as the legitimate government of Libya.  U.S. officials publicly assure that remaining sulfur mustard agent and existing weapons stockpiles are secure during the ongoing conflict.

September 23, 2011: The IAEA confirms a cache of yellowcake uranium was discovered in an abandoned nuclear materials warehouse belonging to the Gaddafi regime.  The material is not deemed a high-level security risk because it is not suitable for use in a weapon.

October 20, 2011: Gaddafi is found and killed by rebel forces in the town of Sirte in western Libya.  NATO military operations end and the NTC forms an interim government and schedules elections.

November 1, 2011: The NTC officially notifies the OPCW of what was determined to be two undeclared chemical weapons stockpiles from the previous regime.  The NTC cooperates with OPCW plans to resume destruction of weapons material.

November 28, 2011: The new government in Tripoli submitted an official declaration of the weapons to the OPCW.

December 2011: The IAEA visits the Tajoura Nuclear Facility in Tripoli and a uranium concentrate storage facility in Sabha.  The nuclear watchdog organization informs the UN Security Council that no previously declared stockpiles had been disturbed or reported missing as a result of the conflict.

2012

 

January 17-19, 2012: OPCW inspectors visited Libya to verify the previously undisclosed chemical weapons. The inspection’s purpose is two-fold, for verifying the new declaration with regard to types and quantities of chemical weapons, and for helping the Libyan government in determining whether another set of discovered materials could be declared under the provisions of the CWC.

April 2012: Libya fails to meet the international April 29, 2012 deadline for destruction of remaining chemical weapons.  Libya submits a working paper to the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons affirming the country’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and compliance with IAEA authorities and regulations.

April 25, 2012: OPCW announced it would start the destruction of the mustard gas stockpile. Canada aids in the funding of the destruction.

May 2012: The government submits a revised plan to the OPCW to complete destruction activities by December 2016 with destruction operations to resume in March 2013.  Current Libyan behavior is indicative of a cooperative relationship with international nonproliferation standards.

May 27 – 28, 2012: The Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, visited Tripoli and met the Libyan Foreign Minister, H.E. Ashour Saad Ben Khaial, and the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Aziz. The Libyan authorities have reaffirmed their destruction of remaining chemical weapons as soon as possible.

August 2012: The NTC transfers power to the elected General National Congress.  Mohammed Magarief is elected by the body as interim head of state.

September 20, 2012: The IAEA approves and signs Libya’s Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the period of 2012 to 2017.  The medium-term planning agreement identifies how nuclear technology and resources will be used for economic development in the country.  The IAEA also conducted two missions to Libya in 2012 to review and support nuclear security and infrastructure.

2013

April 20, 2013: Destruction of the remaining 8.82 metric tons of sulfur mustard stored at Ruwagha begins.

May 4, 2013: Libya completes the destruction of 22.3 metric tons of Category 1 chemical weapons, or nearly 85% of the total declared stocks under OPCW verification.

The remaining chemical weapon stockpile is comprised of about 2.45 metric tons of polymerised sulphur mustard and 1.6 metric tons of sulphur mustard loaded in projectiles, bombs and bomb cartridges, as well as 846 metric tons of precursor chemicals.

2014

January 26, 2014: Libya completes the destruction of its category 1 chemical weapons. The OPCW verifies that the destruction is completed. The remaining category 2 materials are scheduled to be destroyed by the end of 2016. 

2016

February 3, 2016: Libya requests assistance from the OPCW in destroying its remaining category 2 chemical weapons. 

July 16, 2016: The Libyan government requests assistance in removing chemical weapons precursors from the country and eliminating them out of the country. 

July 20, 2016: The OPCW approves Libya's request for assistance. 

July 22, 2016: The UN Security Council endorses the OPCW's decision to assist in transporting the precursors out of the country in Resolution 2298. A number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, offer technical and financial assistance for the removal and destruction. 

August 27, 2016: The OPCW confirms that the precursor chemicals were removed from Libya on Danish ships and brought to Germany for destruction. 

2018

January 11, 2018: The OPCW confirms that the Category 2 chemical materials removed from Libya and transported to Germany had been destroyed, marking the complete destruction of Libya's chemical weapons arsenal.

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

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Posted: January 27, 2018

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