Login/Logout

*
*  

ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Nuclear Nonproliferation

IAEA Investigations of Iran's Nuclear Activities

July 2016

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

Updated: July 2017

Ali Akbar Salehi (left), the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Yukiya Amano, director-general of the IAEA, sign a framework agreement in Tehran on November 11, 2013. (Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) first publicly outlined its concerns about Iranian activities related to the development of a nuclear weapon in an annex to its November 2011 quarterly report on Iran's nuclear program. The report laid out 12 main areas for investigation, discussed in detail below. These issues became known as the possible military dimensions, or PMDs, of Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA’s concerns about these activities pre-dated the public report, and little progress was made to resolve these issues until 2013. 

In November 2013, Iran and the IAEA announced a Joint Framework for Cooperation in which Iran agreed to take several steps to address the IAEA’s concerns, including providing information and access to research reactors and production plants. The IAEA added additional steps in 2014. Before Iran completed all of the steps, the 2013 Framework for Cooperation was superseded by the 2015 Roadmap for the Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program, which required Iran to provide information on all the concerns the IAEA had identified in the 2011 report.

The 2015 Roadmap was announced concurrently with the nuclear deal concluded between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States). Sanctions relief in the nuclear deal was contingent upon Iran cooperating with the agency’s investigation. The IAEA released its assessment to conclude the Roadmap process in December 2015. 

2015 Roadmap for the Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program 

The July 14, 2015 Roadmap laid out a schedule for Iran to address the IAEA’s concerns and the agency to complete its investigation.

The IAEA announced on August 15, 2015 that Iran met the first deadline for providing documents and written explanations to the agency's questions regarding the 12 main areas for investigation as outlined in the November 2011 annex. The agency submitted follow-up questions to Iran on September 9, and on September 20, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Deputy Director General Tero Varjoranta traveled to Tehran to discuss the investigation and visit the Parchin site. They confirmed that environmental samples were taken at Parchin for analysis in IAEA labs. On October 15, 2015, the deadline for additional responses, the IAEA confirmed that Iran had responded to its follow-up questions and completed all activities under the roadmap.

The completed assessment, released on December 2, 2015, concluded that Iran had pursued a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003, including a coordinated “range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” but did not divert nuclear material from its civilian nuclear program as part of its weaponization efforts.

The report found that although Tehran’s organized nuclear weapons program ended in 2003, some activities continued through 2009. According to the assessment, the “activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.” The agency said it found “no credible indications” that nuclear material was diverted to the weapons program or that any undeclared activities have taken place since 2009.

In several areas, like nuclear testing preparations and fuzing, arming, and firing a payload, the IAEA did not receive any new information. In other areas, such as Iran’s work at a uranium mine, the IAEA assessed that Tehran’s activities were consistent with its declaration to the IAEA. However, the IAEA assessed that Iran’s program structure, computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device, and certain types of experiments with detonators were part of a nuclear weapons development program prior to 2003.

Mark Toner, deputy spokesman at the U.S. Department of State, said on December 2 that the IAEA’s conclusion is “consistent with what the United States has long assessed with high confidence.”

Following a meeting on December 15, 2015, the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors voted unanimously to close the investigation into Iran's past weaponization work while continuing to report on Iran's implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal with the P5+1.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Reza Najafi said that Iran "disagreed" wtih some of the agencies findings, arguing that the “scientific studies of dual-use technologies have always been for peaceful civilian or conventional military uses” rather than nuclear weapons work, he said.

The full text of the "road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program" is available here. Highlights of the IAEA's findings in each of the 12 areas are below:

  1. Program management structure: The IAEA assessed that, prior to 2003, Iran had an organized structure “suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant” to nuclear weapons design. The activities that continued beyond 2003 were not a coordinated program.
     
  2. Procurement activities: The IAEA had “indications” that Tehran attempted to purchase items relevant to developing a nuclear weapon prior to 2007 and information that Iran purchased materials for its fuel cycle activities through companies not affiliated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Iran admitted to looking into procuring a high speed camera for conventional purposes, but said it ultimately did not do so.
     
  3. Nuclear material acquisition: The IAEA assessed that the Gchine uranium mine, previously thought to be a potential source of uranium for undeclared nuclear activities between 2000-2003, would not have produced any substantial amounts of nuclear material before 2006. The IAEA found that the activities at the mine were consistent with Iran’s explanations and declarations. Overall, the IAEA assessed that “any quantity of nuclear material” that would have been available for the nuclear weapons development program “would have been within the uncertainties associated with nuclear material accountancy and related measurements.”
     
  4. Nuclear components for an explosive device: The IAEA had evidence that Tehran had access to documentation on the conversion of uranium compounds to uranium metal, which is part of the weaponization process, and made progress on reducing a uranium compound into a metal form. Tehran denied that it conducted any metallurgical work for weapons purposes. The IAEA’s final assessment found no indication of Iran conducting activities related to the uranium metal document.
     
  5. Detonator development: The IAEA assessed that Iran’s work on explosive bridgewire detonators have “characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device.” The agency found that some of Iran’s explanations, that the detonators were developed as a safer alternative because of explosive accidents, were “inconsistent” and “unrelated” to the IAEA’s timeframe for detonator development.
     
  6. Initiation of high explosives and associated experiments: Iran admitted to the IAEA in August and September 2015 that it conducted work on certain types of explosives, but had a “technical requirement for the development” of multipoint initiation explosive technology for conventional weaponry. The IAEA noted that there are non-nuclear weapons applications for the development, but assessed that the work was “relevant to a nuclear explosive device.”
     
  7. Hydrodynamic experiments: As part of its investigation over the past several months, IAEA officials were able to visit Parchin, a military site where the agency suspected that Tehran conducted hydrodynamic tests in an explosive chamber. Since the IAEA requested access in 2012, Iran conducted extensive construction and renovations. Tehran said in September 2015 discussions with the IAEA that one of the main buildings in question was used for storing chemicals for the production of explosives. Environmental sampling at the site found “chemically man-made particles of uranium” but did not indicate that it was used for long-term storage of chemicals as Iran claimed. The IAEA assessed that its satellite imagery analysis and environmental sampling “does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building” and that Iran’s activities at the site impeded the agency’s investigation. The IAEA did not draw a definite assessment as to what occurred at Parchin.
     
  8. Modelling and calculations: The IAEA assessed that Iran conducted modelling and calculations related to nuclear explosive configurations prior to 2004 and between 2005-2009. During the agency’s investigation between August-October 2015, Iran maintained that it was not in a position to discuss its work on hydrodynamic modelling because it was for conventional military purposes and not an IAEA concern. The IAEA noted in its report that there are conventional applications for such modelling, and that the calculations derived from the modelling were incomplete and fragmented, but assessed overall that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device between 2005-2009.
     
  9. Neutron initiator: The IAEA’s evidence indicated that Iran continued work on neutron initiators after 2004, although the agency assessed prior to the July 2015 agreement with Iran that some of the indicators that Iran undertook work on generating neutrons through shock-compression was “weaker than previously considered.” Iran provided the IAEA with information about its neutron research and let the IAEA visit a research intuition in October 2015. Iran maintained that its research in the area was not related to “shock-driven neutron sources.”
     
  10. Conducting a test: The IAEA noted it has not received any additional information regarding Tehran's plans to conduct a nuclear test since its November 2011 report. The IAEA noted in the November 2011 report that Iran may have undertaken “preparatory experimentation” relevant to a nuclear weapons explosive device and obtained a document on the safety arrangements for explosive nuclear testing.
     
  11. Integration into a missile delivery vehicle: The IAEA assessed that two of the workshops it identified in 2011 as producing components and mock up parts for engineering of a Shahab-3 (Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile) re-entry vehicle for a nuclear warhead exist, and that the capabilities are “consistent with those described” in documentation provided to the agency on Tehran’s work on a re-entry vehicle.
     
  12. Fuzing, arming, and firing system: The IAEA report noted in the Final Assessment report that it had not received any new information since the November 2011 report on development of a prototype firing system for a Shahab-3 payload that would allow the missile’s payload to safely re-enter the atmosphere and then explode above a target or upon impact.

2013 Joint Statement on Framework for Cooperation

Prior to reaching the July 2015 roadmap, the IAEA and Iran had taken some steps to clarify the outstanding issues between 2013-2014. 

Under the November 11, 2013 Framework for Cooperation, Iran and the IAEA committed to resolve the agency's concerns through a step-by-step process to address all of the outstanding issues. An annex to the framework laid out the first six actions that Iran pledged to take within three months (see details below).

On February 9, 2014, Iran and the IAEA announced a further seven actions that Iran would take by May 15, 2014 (see details below). Iran completed the initial two sets of actions within the time period specified, all of which fall into one of the 12 main areas of investigation. In June 2014, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said that the agency would not issue an assessment on any action until the investigation was completed and the agency could assess the information gathered as a system.

A May 20, 2014 meeting resulted in an agreement on an additional 5 actions to be taken by August 25, 2014 (see details below). Iran completed three of the five actions by the end of August 2014. Two remaining issues related to nuclear weapons development remained unresolved. Iran and the IAEA met several times throughout the spring, and in its May 29, 2015 quarterly report, the IAEA noted that Iran shared information on one of the outstanding issues related to nuclear weapons development. Before all of these actions were completed, this agreement was superseded by the July 2015 Roadmap. 

The full text of the initial Framework for Cooperation and its accompanying annex is available here. The detailed steps taken under the original framework are laid out below.

Iranian Actions to be Completed by February 11, 2014

Status

Provide mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Gchine mine in Bandar Abbas.

Completed

Iran facilitated IAEA access to the Gchine uranium mine on January 29, 2014.

Provide mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Heavy Water Production Plant.

Completed

The IAEA visited the Heavy Water Production Plant at the Arak site on December 8, 2013.

Provide information on all new research reactors.

Completed

In a February 9 joint statement, the IAEA and Iran announced that Iran completed the actions agreed to on November 11.

Provide information with regard to the identification of 16 sites designated for the construction of nuclear power plants.

Completed

In a February 9 joint statement, the IAEA and Iran announced that Iran completed the actions agreed to on November 11.

Clarification of the announcement made by Iran regarding additional enrichment facilities.

Completed

In a February 9 joint statement, the IAEA and Iran announced that Iran completed the actions agreed to on November 11.

Further clarification of the announcement made by Iran with respect to laser enrichment technology.

Completed

In a February 9 joint statement, the IAEA and Iran announced that Iran completed the actions agreed to on November 11.

Iranian Actions to be Completed by May 15, 2014

Status 

Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Saghand mine in Yazd.

Completed

An IAEA team was provided access to the Sahand mine on a May 5-6 visit to Iran.

Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Ardakan concentration plant.

Completed

An IAEA team was provided acces to the Ardakan plant on a May 6 visit to Iran.

Submission of an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for the IR-40 Reactor (Heavy Water Reactor at Arak).

Completed

In its March 20 report on the Joint Plan of Action, the IAEA noted that Iran completed an updated DIQ for the agency on February 12. Iran provided follow-up information in response to the agency's questions about the DIQ on March 29.

Taking steps to agree with the Agency on the conclusion of a Safeguards Approach for the IR 40 Reactor.

Completed

Iran and the IAEA met on May 5 to continue work on the safeguards for the IR-40 reactor at Arak. The approach is not yet completed.

Providing mutually agreed relevant information and arranging for a technical visit to Lashkar Ab’ad Laser Centre.

Completed

The agency was able to visit the center on March 12.

Providing information on source material, which has not reached the composition and purity suitable for fuel fabrication or for being isotopically enriched, including imports of such material and on Iran’s extraction of uranium from phosphates.

Completed

Iran provided this information to the IAEA in an April 29 letter.

Providing information and explanations for the Agency to assess Iran’s stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire detonators.

Completed

Iran provided the IAEA with information on the detonators at a meeting on April 26 and in subsequent letters on April 30 and an additional May 20 meeting.

Iranian Actions to be Completed by August 25, 2014

Status

Exchanging information with the Agency with respect to the allegations related to the initiation of high explosives, including the conduct of large scale high explosives experimentation in Iran.

Completed
In its May 29, 2015 quarterly report, the IAEA noted that Iran shared information on one of the outstanding issues related to nuclear weapons development.

(While Iran did not complete this activity on schedule, it was resolved by Aug. 15, 2015 as part of the new July 14, 2015 roadmap)

Providing mutually agreed relevant information and explanations related to studies made and/or papers published in Iran in relation to neutron transport and associated modelling and calculations and their alleged application to compressed materials.

Completed

In its May 29, 2015 quarterly report, the IAEA noted that Iran shared information on one of the outstanding issues related to nuclear weapons development.

(While Iran did not complete this activity on schedule, it was resolved by Aug. 15, 2015 as part of the new July 14, 2015 roadmap)

Providing mutually agreed information and arranging a technical visit to a centrifuge research and development centre.

Completed

According to the Sept. 5 IAEA quarterly report, IAEA inspectors were able to visit this facility on Aug. 31.

Providing mutually agreed information and managed access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities.

Completed

The Sept. 5 IAEA quarterly report said that the agency was able to access these sites Aug. 18-20.

Concluding the safeguards approach for the IR-40 reactor.

Completed

The agency and Iran completed the safeguards approach on Aug. 31, six days after the Aug. 25 deadline.

Note: this factsheet was previously titled "Implementation of the Iran-IAEA Framework for Cooperation"

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Subject Resources:

Country Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: July 20, 2017

The Six-Party Talks at a Glance

July 2017

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

Updated: July 2017

The six-party talks were a series of multilateral negotiations held intermittently since 2003 and attended by China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States for the purpose of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. The talks were hosted in Beijing and chaired by China. North Korea decided to no longer participate in the six party process in 2009. In subsequent years, other participants, notably China, have called periodically for a resumption of the process. 

Leading up to the Six-Party Talks

The United States and North Korea negotiated the 1994 Agreed Framework amidst rising concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, including North Korea’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The agreement halted that decision and as part of the accord North Korea pledged to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for energy aid, including two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors.

The Agreed Framework collapsed in October 2002 due to alleged violations from both sides. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly claimed that in a bilateral meeting, North Korea had admitted it possessed a uranium-enrichment program, which Pyongyang denied, and which would violate the deal. The United States was slow to deliver the energy aid promised in the agreement. The construction of the future light-water reactors was far behind schedule. The first reactor was initially slated for completion in 2003 but was not likely to be operational until 2008 at the earliest. See the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework at a Glance for more information. In January 2003, North Korea declared its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). For more information, see Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy.

In early August 2003, North Korea declared its willingness to attend six-party talks to be held in Beijing. In between periods of stalemate and crisis, the six-party talks arrived at critical breakthroughs in 2005, when North Korea pledged to abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and return to the NPT, and in 2007, when the parties agreed on a series of steps to implement that 2005 agreement. While the steps were never fully realized, and North Korea remains outside of the NPT, Pyongyang did disable the nuclear reactor that produced plutonium for its weapons program.

First Round

The First Round of talks began August 27, 2003 in Beijing. The initial North Korean position called for a normalization of relations and a non-aggression pact with the United States, without which, Pyongyang maintained, a dismantling of its nuclear program would be out of the question. The United States had previously rejected a non-aggression pact proposal earlier that summer and remained firm on that point during the talks; this stumbling block precluded any substantive agreement in the First Round. On the second day of talks, the North Korean delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il stated that North Korea would test a nuclear weapon soon to prove that it had acquired that ability.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi outlined six points of consensus that had been reached by the end of the round. These included a commitment to work to resolve the nuclear issue through peaceful means and dialogue, pursuing a nuclear-free Korean peninsula while bearing in mind the security of North Korea, and avoiding acts that would aggravate the situation further.

Second Round

While China called for a return to the forum, South Korea, Japan and the United States met separately to discuss joint strategies for the next round and possibilities for a verifiable inspection system. In late October 2003, China secured an agreement from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to return to the six-party talks, after U.S. President George W. Bush expressed an openness to providing informal security assurances short of a non-aggression pact or peace treaty. The United States however, still would not allow its diplomats to hold direct talks with North Korean negotiators and demanded unilateral concessions on the part of Pyongyang. The central U.S. demand was that North Korea declare its willingness to the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement” of its nuclear programs, a policy that had come to be known as CVID.

The Second Round of talks began February 25, 2004. On the second day of talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Russian lead negotiator, Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Losiukov, both reported that North Korea had offered to destroy its nuclear weapons program, but would not discontinue its peaceful nuclear activities. This represented a partial reversal from its January offer . While both China and Russia supported an agreement on this new basis, the United States, Japan, and South Korea insisted that the North eliminate all of its nuclear facilities and programs. U.S. officials believed that the North Korean civil nuclear program was impractical for economic use and was likely a front for other activities.

The Chairman’s paper that was eventually circulated at the end of the discussions in lieu of a joint statement did not include any initial steps agreements, but reaffirmed all parties’ commitment to a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula.

Third Round

On June 23, 2004, the six states reconvened to begin the Third Round of negotiations. Expectations were muted by uncertainties generated by the Presidential election in the United States later that year.

In the run up to the talks, the United States circulated its first set of formal proposals for a step-by-step dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program. The proposal granted North Korea a three month preparatory period to freeze its programs, and also requested the transmittal of a full account of activities. South Korea presented a similar proposal that largely adhered to the base U.S. demand for CVID. At the opening ceremony of the Third Round, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan reiterated that his country was willing to accept a “freeze for compensation” program that would lead to renunciation of its nuclear weapons program.

Again lacking the consensus necessary for a joint statement, a Chairman’s statement was issued instead. In addition to reaffirming commitments made previously, the parties stressed the need for a “words for words” and “action for action” process towards resolution of the crisis.

Fourth Round

Nearly a year of uncertainty divided the Third and Fourth Rounds of the six-party talks. In part, this was due to the Presidential election in the United States, which took place in early November 2004 and resulted in a second term of office for George W. Bush. North Korea stated that it intended to wait for a restatement of the second Bush administration’s policies before deciding on whether to attend the next round of talks.

In early February 2005, North Korea declared itself in possession of nuclear weapons and said it would not attend future six-party talks. It accused the United States of attempting to overthrow its government and referred to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s statement in her confirmation hearing that North Korea was an “outpost of tyranny.” Finally, following a July 2005 meeting in Beijing with the new U.S. lead negotiator Christopher Hill, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan announced that his country would be willing to attend a new round of talks during the week of July 25, 2005.

One of the inducements which drew North Korea back to the negotiating table was a U.S. recognition of North Korea as a sovereign state coupled with a statement that it had no intention to invade North Korea. These were reiterated on the first day of negotiations. The resulting talks were considerably longer than previous rounds, lasting a full 13 days. The United States softened its opposition to a North Korean civil energy program, while a joint statement based on resurrection of a 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that barred the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons was discussed. The U.S. also engaged in lengthy bilateral discussions with the North Korean delegation, lifting prior restrictions prohibiting U.S. negotiators from engaging the North Koreans directly.

On September 19, 2005, the six parties achieved the first breakthrough in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, issuing a joint statement on agreed steps toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “in a phased manner in line with the principle of commitment for commitment, action for action.”

North Korea committed itself to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing programs, returning to the NPT and accepting IAEA inspections. In return, the other parties expressed their respect for North Korea’s assertion of a right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and agreed to discuss the provision of a light water nuclear reactor “at an appropriate time.” The United States and South Korea both affirmed that they would not deploy nuclear weapons on the peninsula, and stated, along with Russia, China, and Japan, their willingness to supply North Korea with energy aid. The United States and Japan, further, committed themselves to working to normalizing relations with North Korea.

The day after the Joint Statement was agreed, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry declared that the United States should provide a light water reactor “as early as possible.” (See ACT, November 2005.) Although Pyongyang appeared to back away from that demand in the following days, disagreements over the timing of discussions on the provision of such a reactor remained.

Fifth Round

The next round of talks began on November 9, 2005 and lasted three days. The Six Parties expressed their views on how the Joint Statement should be implemented, but no new achievements were registered and substantial negotiations were neither attempted nor envisioned. U.S. lead negotiator Christopher Hill said “we were not expecting to make any major breakthroughs.” The meeting concluded without setting a date for the next round of talks.

Following the end of the first session, the negotiating climate deteriorated significantly. U.S. sanctions on North Korean trading entities as well as Banco Delta Asia of Macau provoked strong condemnation from Pyongyang. North Korea boycotted the six-party talks once again, and conducted multiple missile tests in July and its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1718 on October 14, requiring North Korea to refrain from further nuclear or missile testing, abandon its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile programs, and immediately rejoin the six-party talks.

Further discussions resumed in February 2007 which concluded in an agreement on initial steps to implement the 2005 Joint Statement.  The February 13 agreement called for steps to be taken over the next 60 days in which North Korea committed to shutting down and sealing the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and to discussing a list of its nuclear-related activities with the other parties. The United States and Japan committed to engaging in talks to normalize relations, while all parties would work to provide 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, all within the 60 day period. The United States also agreed to begin the process of removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with regards to North Korea. The agreement set a March 19, 2007 date for a Sixth Round of talks and outlined a framework for follow-on actions by the six parties to implement the September 2005 Joint Statement.

Sixth Round

The next round of talks began on time but came to no substantive agreement in its initial sessions after the North Korean delegation walked out over delays in the release of funds from the sanctioned Banco Delta Asia. Diplomats had been optimistic that issues surrounding the bank had been temporarily resolved, but a technical delay in the transmittal of funds led to the announcement of another adjournment.

The IAEA confirmed in June 2007 that the 5 megawatt Yongbyon nuclear reactor had been shut down and sealed. When talks resumed in September-October 2007, a second phase implementation plan was agreed upon which called for the disablement of three key nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon complex and the provision of a list of North Korean nuclear activities, both by the end of the year. North Korea further committed to not transferring nuclear materials, technology, or know-how to other parties. The other parties agreed to increase aid to North Korea to a total of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or fuel oil equivalents and to a continuation of the diplomatic normalization processes.

Following numerous delays in implementation, U.S. and North Korean negotiators met in Singapore in April 2008 and agreed on three steps through which North Korea would detail or address its nuclear activities: a declaration provided by North Korea regarding its plutonium program, the publication of a U.S. "bill of particulars" detailing Washington's suspicions of a North Korean uranium-enrichment program and Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation to other countries, and a North Korean understanding of the U.S. concerns.

Further six-party talks continued in June 2008, ending with the transmittal of North Korea’s declaration of nuclear activities. At the same time, U.S. President Bush announced that he had removed North Korea from the Trading with the Enemy Act and had notified Congress of the country’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Difficulties in agreeing on a verification system delayed the second action until October 11. The need for a verification system had been reaffirmed in a July 12 joint communiqué issued by the six parties. An August 11 proposal from the U.S. to allow verification inspections at sites throughout North Korea was rejected emphatically. Insisting that inspections be limited to Yongbyon, North Korea announced that it was reversing disablement actions and said it would restart its reprocessing plant. A verbal agreement was established after Hill visited Pyongyang in early October. The agreement allowed for inspections outside of Yongbyon when China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States agreed by consensus.

Progress again foundered in November when North Korea denied that it had committed in the verbal agreement to allowing the collection of samples at Yongbyon. Another session of six-party talks in December yielded no new consensus. North Korea maintained that if sampling were to take place, it would not be during second phase implementation.

On April 5, 2009, after repeated warnings from the United States, Japan and South Korea, Pyongyang test-fired a modified Taepo Dong-2 three-stage rocket, ostensibly as part of its civilian space program. The UN Security Council issued a presidential statement April 13 calling the test a violation of Resolution 1718, and expanded sanctions on North Korean firms shortly afterwards. North Korea responded on April 14, declaring that it would no longer participate in the six-party talks and that it would no longer be bound by any of the previous agreements reached in the discussions.

Since the last round of talks, each of the parties involved have at times called for their resumption. In December 2010, China, Japan, South Korea and the United States called for an emergency session of the six-party talks. In 2014, a North Korean special envoy told Russian President Vladimir Putin that North Korea would be ready to resume the six-party talks. China has continued to call from their resumption, as recently as February 2017. However, there has been little progress towards continuing the six-party talks recently.

Research by Xiaodon Liang

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Subject Resources:

Country Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: July 18, 2017

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Description: 

This treaty prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, manufacturing, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, transfer, stationing and installment of nuclear weapons or assistance with any prohibited activities. 

Body: 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, manufacturing, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, transfer, stationing and installment of nuclear weapons or assistance with any prohibited activities. It requires states-parties to declare if they once had or currently have nuclear weapons and if there are nuclear weapons on their territory. It requires states-parties that currently have nuclear weapons to destroy them and those that have nuclear weapons on their territory to remove them. States-parties must also provide victim assistance to those impacted by nuclear weapon use and testing and environmental remediation assistance to areas impacted by nuclear weapon use and testing.

Opens for Signature: September 20, 2017

Entry into Force: Pending

Official Text: http://www.undocs.org/en/a/conf.229/2017/L.3/Rev.1

Subject Resources:

Posted: July 17, 2017

WMD-Free Middle East Proposal at a Glance

July 2017

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

Updated: July 2017

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. Since 1980, that resolution has been passed annually without a vote by UNGA and endorsement for the proposals has been incorporated in a number of UN Security Council Resolutions. 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.

Taking Forward the WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East

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 opions 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.


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.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Subject Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: July 17, 2017

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) At a Glance

July 2017

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

Updated: July 2017

What is a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone?

A nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) is a specified region in which countries commit themselves not to manufacture, acquire, test, or possess nuclear weapons. Five such zones exist today, with four of them spanning the entire Southern Hemisphere. The regions currently covered under NWFZ agreements include: Latin America (the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (the 1995 Treaty of Bangkok) Africa (the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba) and Central Asia (the 2006 Treaty of Semipalatinsk).

Background

Initial efforts to create an area free of nuclear weapons began in the late 1950s with several proposals to establish such a zone in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland offered the first proposal-named the Rapacki Plan after the Polish foreign minister-in 1958. The Rapacki Plan sought to initially keep nuclear weapons from being deployed in Poland, Czechoslovakia, West Germany, and East Germany, while reserving the right for other European countries to follow suit. The Soviet Union, Sweden, Finland, Romania, and Bulgaria also floated similar proposals. All these early efforts, however, floundered amidst the U.S.-Soviet superpower conflict, although the Rapacki Plan would serve as a model to the nuclear-weapon-free zones that were eventually set up in other regions of the globe.

Article VII of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, affirms the right of countries to establish specified zones free of nuclear weapons. The UN General Assembly reaffirmed that right in 1975 and outlined the criteria for such zones. Within these nuclear-weapon-free zones, countries may use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Protocol for Nuclear Weapon States

Each treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone includes a protocol for the five nuclear-weapon states recognized under the NPT-China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States-to sign and ratify. These protocols, which are legally binding, call upon the nuclear-weapon states to respect the status of the zones and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against treaty states-parties. Such declarations of non-use of nuclear weapons are referred to as negative security assurances. For more information, see Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances.

However, the five nuclear-armed countries have at times signed and ratified a NWFZ protocol and declared conditions reserving the right to use nuclear weapons in certain scenarios against parties to a nuclear-weapon-free zone. For instance, the United States signed the protocol for the African nuclear-weapon-free zone in April 1996 with a declaration that it would reserve the right to respond with all options, implying possible use of nuclear weapons, to a chemical or biological weapons attack by a member of the zone. None of the nuclear-weapon states have signed the relevant protocol for the treaty creating a zone in Southeast Asia because of concerns that it conflicts with the right of their ships and aircraft to have freedom of movement in international waters and airspace and problems with the definitions of territory, since includes exclusive economic zones and continental shelves. The other three zones do not explicitly rule out the transit of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon states through the zones, and the general practice of nuclear-weapon states is not to declare whether nuclear weapons are aboard their vessels.

In addition to nuclear-weapon-free zones, there are treaties and declarations, which are not covered by this fact sheet, banning the deployment of nuclear weapons in Antarctica, Mongolia, on the seabed, and in outer space.

Basic Elements of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaties

Duration: The treaties are to remain in force indefinitely. Yet, each treaty includes a withdrawal option for states-parties. With the exception of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which simply requires three months' advance notice before a withdrawal can take effect, all the NWFZ treaties require 12 months' advance notice for a state-party to end its treaty obligations.

Conditions: None of the treaties can be subjected to conditions by its non-nuclear-weapon states-parties.

Verification: Each state-party adopts comprehensive safeguards administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which verifies that states-parties are not pursuing nuclear weapons illicitly. The Central Asian NWFZ goes a step further in requiring that states in the region adopt the IAEA's Additional Protocol, which provides for expanded monitoring.

Territory Covered: Each zone applies to the entire territories of all of its states-parties. Territory is understood to include all land holdings, internal waters, territorial seas, and archipelagic waters. The Latin American treaty also extends hundreds of kilometers from the states-parties' territories into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but the nuclear-weapon states, citing their freedom at sea, assert that this does not apply to their ships and aircraft that might be carrying nuclear weapons. A dispute also exists over the inclusion of the Chagos Archipelago, which includes the U.S. military base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as part of the proposed African nuclear-weapon-free zone. Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom recognizes Diego Garcia as being subject to the Pelindaba Treaty.


The Treaty of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Opened for signature: February 14, 1967
Entered into force: October 23, 2002[1]

States-Parties

Signed

Ratified

Antigua and Barbuda

October 11, 1983

October 11, 1983

Argentina

September 27, 1967

January 18, 1994

Bahamas

November 29, 1976

April 26, 1977

Barbados

October 18, 1968

April 25, 1969

Belize

February 14, 1992

November 9, 1994

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

February 14, 1967

February 18, 1969

Brazil

May 9, 1967

January 29, 1968

Chile

February 14, 1967

October 9, 1974

Colombia

February 14, 1967

August 4, 1972

Costa Rica

February 14, 1967

August 25, 1969

Cuba

March 25, 1995

October 23, 2002

Dominica

May 2, 1989

June 4, 1993

Dominican Republic

July 28, 1967

June 14, 1968

Ecuador

February 14, 1967

February 11, 1969

El Salvador

February 14, 1967

April 22, 1968

Grenada

April 29, 1975

June 20, 1975

Guatemala

February 14, 1967

February 6, 1970

Guyana

January 16, 1995

January 16, 1995

Haiti

February 14, 1967

May 23, 1969

Honduras

February 14, 1967

September 23, 1968

Jamaica

October 26, 1967

June 26, 1969

Mexico

February 14, 1967

September 20, 1967

Nicaragua

February 15, 1967

October 24, 1968

Panama

February 14, 1967

June 11, 1971

Paraguay

April 26, 1967

March 19, 1969

Peru

February 14, 1967

March 4, 1969

Saint Kitts and Nevis

February 18, 1994

April 18, 1995

Saint Lucia

August 25, 1992

June 2, 1995

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

February 14, 1992

February 14, 1992

Suriname

February 13, 1976

June 10, 1977

Trinidad and Tobago

June 27, 1967

December 3, 1970

Uruguay

February 14, 1967

August 20, 1968

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

February 14, 1967

March 23, 1970

Protocol ratification by nuclear-weapon states: 

Protocol

Subject

States Ratified

Protocol I

Jurisdictional responsibility

France, United Kingdom, United States

Protocol II

Negative security assurances

China, France, United Kingdom, United States, Soviet Union[2]

The Treaty of Rarotonga (South Pacific)

Opened for signature: August 6, 1985
Entered into force: December 11, 1986

States-Parties

Signed

Ratified

Australia

August 6, 1985

December 11, 1986

Cook Islands

August 6, 1985

October 28, 1985

Fiji

August 6, 1985

October 4, 1985

Kiribati

August 6, 1985

October 28, 1986

Nauru

July 17, 1986

April 13, 1987

New Zealand

August 6, 1985

November 13, 1986

Niue

August 6, 1985

May 12, 1986

Papua New Guinea

September 16, 1985

September 15, 1989

Samoa

August 6, 1985

October 20, 1986

Solomon Islands

May 29, 1987

June 27, 1989

Tonga

August 2, 1996

December 18, 2000

Tuvalu

August 6, 1985

January 16, 1986

Vanuatu

September 16, 1995

February 9, 1996

Protocol ratification by nuclear-weapon states: 

Protocol

Subject

States Ratified

Protocol I*

Prohibition on the manufacture, stationing and testing of any nuclear explosive device

France, United Kingdom

Protocol II

Negative security assurances

China, France, United Kingdom, Soviet Union[2]

Protocol III

Ban on nuclear testing in nuclear-weapon-free zone

Soviet Union[2]

*(open only to France, the United Kingdom and the United States)

The Treaty of Bangkok (Southeast Asia)

Opened for signature: December 15, 1995
Entered into force: March 27, 1997

States-Parties

Signed

Ratified

Brunei Darussalam

December 15, 1995

November 22, 1996

Cambodia

December 15, 1995

March 27, 1997

Indonesia

December 15, 1995

April 10, 1997

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

December 15, 1995

July 16, 1996

Malaysia

December 15, 1995

October 11, 1996

Myanmar

December 15, 1995

July 17, 1996

Philippines

December 15, 1995

June 21, 2001

Singapore

December 15, 1995

March 27, 1997

Thailand

December 15, 1995

March 20, 1997

Vietnam

December 15, 1995

November 26, 1996

Protocol ratification by nuclear-weapon states: 

  • None. Five nuclear weapons states and ASEAN members met in July 2012 to sign the treaty protocol. The treaty commission, however, postponed the signing of the protocol until November, requesting more time to review reservations that several of the NWS indicated that they would attach during ratification.

The Treaty of Pelindaba (Africa)

Opened for signature: April 11, 1996
Entered into force: July 15, 2009

States-Parties

Signed

Ratified

Algeria

April 11, 1996

February 11, 1998

Angola

April 11, 1996

June 20, 2014

Benin               

April 11, 1996

September 4, 2007

Botswana

June 9, 1998

June 16, 1999

Burkina Faso

April 11, 1996

August 27, 1998

Burundi

April 11, 1996

July 15, 2009

Cameroon

April 11, 1996

September 28, 2010

Cape Verde

April 11, 1996

-----

Central African Republic

April 11, 1996

-----

Chad

April 11, 1996

January 18, 2012

Comoros

April 11, 1996

July 24, 2012

Congo

January 27, 1997

November 26, 2013

Cote D’Ivoire        

April 11, 1996

July 28, 1999

Democratic Republic of the Congo

April 11, 1996

-----

Djibouti

April 11, 1996

-----

Egypt

April 11, 1996

-----

Equatorial Guinea

 

February 19, 2003

Eritrea

April 11, 1996

-----

Ethiopia

April 11, 1996

March 13, 2008

Gabon

April 11, 1996

June 12, 2007

Gambia

April 11, 1996

October 16, 1996

Ghana

April 11, 1996

June 27, 2011

Guinea

April 11, 1996

January 21, 2000

Guinea-Bissau

April 11, 1996

January 4, 2012

Kenya

April 11, 1996

January 9, 2001

Lesotho

April 11, 1996

March 14, 2002

Liberia

July 9, 1996

-----

Libya

April 11, 1996

May 11, 2005

Madagascar

 

December 23, 2003

Malawi

April 11, 1996

April 23, 2009

Mali

April 11, 1996

July 22, 1999

Mauritania

April 11, 1996

February 24, 1998

Mauritius

April 11, 1996

April 24, 1996

Mozambique

April 11, 1996

August 28, 2008

Namibia

April 11, 1996

March 1, 2012

Niger

April 11, 1996

February 22, 2017

Nigeria

April 11, 1996

June 18, 2001

Rwanda

April 11, 1996

February 1, 2007

Sao Tome & Principe

July 9, 1996

-----

Senegal

April 11, 1996

October 25, 2006

Seychelles

July 9, 1996

May 23, 2014

Sierra Leone

April 11, 1996

-----

Somalia

February 23, 2006

-----

South Africa

April 11, 1996

March 27, 1998

Sudan

April 11, 1996

-----

Swaziland

April 11, 1996

July 17, 2000

Togo

April 11, 1996

July 18, 2000

Tunisia

April 11, 1996

October 7, 2009

Uganda

April 11, 1996

-----

United Republic of Tanzania

April 11, 1996

June 19, 1998

Zambia

April 11, 1996

April 6, 1998

Zimbabwe

April 11, 1996

April 6, 1998

 Protocol ratification by nuclear-weapon states: 

Protocol

Subject

States Ratified

Protocol I

Negative security assurances

China, France, Russia, United Kingdom

Protocol II

Ban on nuclear testing in zone

China, France, Russia, United Kingdom

Protocol III*

Jurisdictional responsibility

France

*(open only to France and Spain)

Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty

Opened for signature: September 8, 2006
Entered into force: March 21, 2009 

States-Parties

Signed

Ratified

Kazakhstan

September 8, 2006

February 19, 2009

Kyrgyzstan

September 8, 2006

July 27, 2007

Tajikistan

September 8, 2006

January 13, 2009

Turkmenistan

September 8, 2006

January 17, 2009

Uzbekistan

September 8, 2006

May 10, 2007

 Protocol ratification by nuclear-weapon states: 

Protocol

Subject

States Ratified

Protocol I*

Negative security assurances

China, France, Russia, United Kingdom

*United States signed but has not ratified


Notes:

1. The treaty specified that the full zone would not enter into force until it was ratified by all states within the zones. That did not occur until Cuba ratified the treaty in 2002. However, the treaty permitted individual states to waive that provision and declare themselves bound by the treaty, which many did beginning in 1968.

2. Russia is recognized as inheriting the Soviet Union's treaty commitments.

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Subject Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: July 17, 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Iran Nuclear Deal Still Working Effectively

Sections:

Description: 

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy

Body: 

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy

For Immediate Release: July 13, 2017

Media Contacts: Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 102; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107 

(Washington, D.C.)—Two years ago on July 14, six world powers and Iran finalized an historic nuclear agreement with Tehran that removed the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has proven to be a nonproliferation success. The agreement has significantly restricted Iran’s nuclear activities and imposed an intrusive monitoring and verification regime. The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran no longer looms over the international community.
 
Despite the success of the deal, some policymakers in Washington are recklessly urging the Trump administration to abandon the agreement on the basis of inaccurate claims that Tehran is violating the accord. Six reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency demonstrate that Iran is meeting its commitments and the Trump administration certified in April that Iran is living up to its end of the deal.
 
Before taking unilateral steps that risk the success of the agreement, Washington should carefully consider the consequences. Abandoning an agreement that is verifiably blocking Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons is irresponsible and dangerous. It would further destabilize the region, and could open the door to a nuclear-armed Iran or increase the prospect of a costly war in the Middle East. Additionally, pulling out of a multilateral agreement that benefits international security sends the message to U.S. allies and partners that Washington cannot be trusted to follow through on its commitments.
 
Given the current instability in the Middle East, it is now more vital than ever that Washington continue to support the nuclear deal with Iran and look for options to build on the agreement. Full implementation of the accord benefits U.S. national security and international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
 
Resources and Factsheets:

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Posted: July 13, 2017

Amendment on CTBTO Funding Would Undermine Global Test Ban

Sections:

Description: 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation on Feb.7 to “restrict” funding for the CTBTO. The bill will be offered as a floor amendment by Wilson to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is being considered this week.

Body: 

Volume 9, Issue 4, July 2017

Unfortunately, a small but influential group of Republican lawmakers are seeking to cut U.S. funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and undermine international support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the global nuclear test moratorium.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation on Feb.7 to “restrict” funding for the CTBTO.

The House approved the language as an amendment by Wilson to the National Defense Authorization Act; the Senate will consider a similar amendment from Sen. Cotton when it considers the NDAA later this week.*

The amendment purports not to restrict U.S. funding specifically for the CTBTO's International Monitoring System, but in practice any significant reduction in U.S. technical and financial support for the CTBTO would:

  • adversely impact the organization’s ability to operate and maintain existing nuclear test monitoring stations. This is due to the fact that a wide range of organization’s personnel and assets directly or indirectly support the IMS. This includes staff time and technical support for the International Data Centre in Vienna, which processes information provided by IMS operations; and
  • prompt other states to restrict their funding for the CTBTO or possibly withhold data from CTBTO monitoring stations that are based in their territory, thus undermining the capabilities of the system to detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini during the April 2017 G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]The Wilson amendment would run counter to the policy position articulated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who joined with his G7 foreign ministerial counterparts to extoll the value of the CTBTO in their April joint communique on nonproliferation and disarmament. They said in part:

We believe that all States should maintain all existing voluntary moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion, and those States that have not instituted such moratoria should do so. The verification regime being established by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, in particular the International Monitoring System and International Data Centre, has proven its effectiveness by providing substantive and reliable data on the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea. We strongly encourage all interested States to complete the IMS as a matter of priority.

The proposed Wilson amendment also seeks to undermine the U.S. obligation—as a signatory to the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty—not to conduct nuclear test explosions. The amendment calls on Congress to declare that the September 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2310 does not “obligate…nor does it impose an obligation on the United States to refrain from actions that would run counter to the object and purpose” of the CTBT, which President Bill Clinton signed in 1996.

Contrary to what the Cotton-Wilson bill implies, Resolution 2310 (which was endorsed by 42 states, including Israel) does not impose any new obligations on the United States. Rather, it:

  • encourages states to “provide the support required” to the CTBTO and the IMS, and urges states to refrain from nuclear testing and urges those states that have not ratified to do so; and
  • also takes note of a September 15 joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members that formally “recognized” that a nuclear explosion would “defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.” 

The G7 Foreign Minsters’ April 11 Joint Communique—endorsed by Tillerson—also “recalls" UN Security Council Resolution 2310 as an important contribution to the effort to ensure all states that have signed the CTBT do not go back on their promise not to conduct nuclear weapon test explosions. 

However, if Congress were to assert that the United States is not required to respect our obligations as a CTBT signatory not to conduct nuclear test explosions, it would signal to other states that that the United States may be seeking to back out of its commitment to a global and verifiable nuclear test ban and is considering the resumption of nuclear testing.

That’s not a smart move. With North Korea threatening to conduct a sixth nuclear test explosion, it is essential that the United States reinforce, not undermine, the global nuclear testing taboo

Backing off the United States' historically strong commitment to halting nuclear testing by any country at this time could trigger a dangerous chain reaction by other nuclear-armed states and would run afoul of key U.S. allies who strongly oppose nuclear testing and who support the CTBT. U.S. financial support to the CTBTO is critical to detect and deter nuclear weapons testing and it enhances national and international security—and should not be subjected to the restrictions proposed in the Wilson amendment.—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director

*This sentence was updated July 17, 2017 to reflect that the House amendment by Wilson was adopted by a voice vote.

Posted: July 12, 2017

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons At A Glance

July 2017

Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Alicia Sanders-Zakre, (202) 463-8270 ext. 113

Updated: July 2017

The Treaty

Preamble

The treaty has a 24-paragraph preamble acknowledging the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the value of existing international disarmament agreements including the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and nuclear-weapon-free-zone agreements, as well as the “right” of states-parties to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Prohibitions (Article 1)

States-parties are prohibited to use, threaten to use, develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, station, or install nuclear weapons or assist with any prohibited activities.

Declarations (Article 2)

A state-party must declare, when joining the treaty, whether it has eliminated a previous nuclear weapons program, currently has nuclear weapons, or holds other countries’ nuclear weapons on its territory. If a state has another country’s nuclear weapons on its territory when it signs the treaty, it must remove them. If it has its own nuclear weapons, it must eliminate them.

Safeguards (Article 3)

Non-nuclear-weapon states are required to have, at a minimum, a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “without prejudice” to any future additional agreements.

Nuclear-weapon states accession (Article 4)

There are two ways for a nuclear-weapon state to accede to the treaty and eliminate its nuclear weapons: it can join the treaty and then destroy its nuclear weapons or destroy its nuclear weapons and then join the treaty. States that “destroy and join” must cooperate with a “competent international authority” designated by the treaty to verify dismantlement. States that “join and destroy” must immediately remove nuclear weapons from operational status and submit a time-bound plan for their destruction within 60 days of joining the treaty.

The treaty does not specify which “competent international authority” would be suited to verify irreversible disarmament of a nuclear-armed state that decides to join the treaty, but the treaty allows for an appropriate authority to be designated at a later date. The treaty requires any current or former nuclear-weapon state that seeks to join the prohibition treaty to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA to verify that nuclear materials are not diverted from peaceful to weapons purposes.

Positive obligations (Articles 6 and 7)

The treaty obligates states-parties to provide victim assistance and environmental remediation to those affected by nuclear weapons use and testing.

Meetings of states-parties, signature, ratification and entry into force (Articles 8, 13, 14, and 15)

Biennial meetings of states-parties will address implementation and other measures. Review conferences will be held every six years. The treaty, open for signature on September 20th, 2017, enters into force 90 days after the 50th state ratifies it.

Background

The initiative to negotiate a "legally binding instrument" to prohibit nuclear weapons is the result of a years-long process that grew out of a renewed recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use, the rising risk of accidental or intentional nuclear use, and a growing sense of frustration that key nuclear disarmament commitments made by the nuclear-weapon states were not being fulfilled.

The 2010 NPT Review Conference unanimously "expresse[d] its deep concern at the continued risk for humanity represented by the possibility that these weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons."

These concerns motivated a group of states, including Norway, Mexico, and Austria to organize a series of three conferences in 2013 and 2014 on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use.

Following the conclusion of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, these and other states agreed to set up an open ended working group in 2016 on advancing multilateral disarmament negotiations. The working group led to the formulation of a resolution in the UN General Assembly to start negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The resolution passed the UN General Assembly First Committee by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions in November 2016 and was subsequently adopted by the General Assembly as a whole.

Costa Rica’s UN Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez (left), president of the UN conference to negotiate a nuclear-weapons ban treaty, chairs a meeting of the conference March 30. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

The first negotiating session was held at the UN in New York on March 27-31 with some 130 governments, and dozens of civil society organizations, participating. The president of the negotiations, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, compiled states' expressed opinions from the first round of negotiations into a draft convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons issued on May 22 in Geneva. The second and final round of negotiations took place on June 15-July 7 in New York, with participants adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by a vote of 122-1-1. The Netherlands voted against adoption, and Singapore abstained.

Reactions From the Nuclear-Armed States

Nuclear-weapon states and many of their NATO allies have opposed the initiative from the beginning. Although the United States and the United Kingdom participated in the 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, leaders from Washington and the other nuclear-weapon states boycotted the working group sessions and the 2017 treaty negotiations.

These states contend that the treaty will distract attention from other disarmament and nonproliferation initiatives, such as negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty or ratifying the CTBT. They have expressed concern that the a nuclear prohibition treaty could undermine the NPT and the extensive safeguard provisions included therein by giving states the option to "forum shop," or choose between the two treaties.

Arguments for the Treaty From Proponent States

Supporters of the nuclear prohibition treaty argue that it will close a "legal gap" that exists regarding nuclear weapons, which are not expressly outlawed by the NPT even though their use would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict. They argue that the prohibition treaty initiative reinforces the NPT and its Article VI requirement for nuclear disarmament and that it can reduce the salience of nuclear weapons and help prompt more urgent action to reduce nuclear risk and promote disarmament.

Timeline

2010
May 3-28: The final document of the 2010 review conference for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) acknowledges the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. 

2013
March 4-5: The first conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use takes place in Oslo, Norway. 

2014
February 13-14: The second conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use takes place in Nayarit, Mexico.  
December 8-9: The final conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use takes place in Vienna, Austria.  
December 9: 127 states endorse the Humanitarian Pledge, calling on all NPT states parties to renew their commitment to Article VI of the NPT and to take interim steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use.

2015
October 29: The UN General Assembly First Committee votes 135-12 with 33 abstentions on a resolution to create an Open Ended Working Group to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. 

2016
February 22-26: The first working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland. 
May 2-4 and 9-13: The second working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland.  
August 16-19: The third working group to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations meets in Geneva, Switzerland, approving a final report by a vote of 68-22 with 13 abstentions.  
October 27: The First Committee adopts a resolution to begin negotiations in 2017 on a nuclear prohibition treaty in 2017 on a nuclear prohibition treaty by a vote of 123-38 with 16 abstentions.  
December 23: The General Assembly approves the resolution to begin negotiations on a nuclear prohibition treaty adopted by the First Committee by a vote of 113-35 and 13 abstentions.

2017
March 27-31: The first round of negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons takes place at the United Nations in New York.  
May 22: President Elayne Whyte Gómez presents the first draft text of the treaty at the United Nations in Geneva.
June 15-July 7: The second round of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons takes place at the United Nations in New York. 
July 7: The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is adopted by a vote of 122-1-1. The Netherlands voted against the treaty, and Singapore abstained.

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Subject Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: July 12, 2017

Timeline of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

May 2015

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

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, the five NWS commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, while the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. These are the first two “pillars” of the treaty. The third pillar ensures that non-nuclear weapon states 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 Disarmament Committee 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."

Back to Top

Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

Posted: July 12, 2017

Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Adopted

Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Adopted


July/August 2017
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The formal adoption of the first legally binding global treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons possession, use, and threat of use was greeted with widespread approval from the international community, with the exception of the nuclear-weapon states and their defense treaty allies who dismissed the accord as irrelevant and even potentially dangerous.

Delegates and observers applaud at the United Nations moments after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is adopted July 7 by a vote 122 in favor, 1 against, and 1 abstention.  (Photo credit: Alicia Sanders-Zakre/Arms Control Association)On July 7, 122 non-nuclear-armed states voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons following four weeks of talks at a special UN conference. Supporters hailed it as a new tool to strengthen norms against nuclear weapons use and said it can, in tandem with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), discourage other states from seeking to obtain nuclear weapons and spur further action on nuclear disarmament.

“After many decades, we have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons,” declared Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, president of the conference.

The Netherlands, the only NATO ally participating, voted against the treaty, and Singapore abstained. No nuclear-armed state participated, and the United States actively opposed the effort. The treaty has provisions governing how nuclear-weapon states could join the treaty, verifiably giving up their arsenals, although treaty supporters recognized that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Even so, the treaty, which opens for signature when the UN General Assembly convenes in September, represents a powerful international statement at a time of renewed anxieties over potential nuclear weapons use. Dell Higgie, New Zealand’s ambassador for disarmament,  applauded the “strong and balanced treaty” in a July 8 email to Arms Control Today, commenting that the negotiations “put nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian spirit in the spotlight again.”

The negotiations were authorized in December 2016 by the UN General Assembly, which called for a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” Such talks had been sought by states and disarmament advocates long frustrated by what they regard as the nuclear-weapon states’ lack of progress on their existing NPT disarmament obligations, by the growing risk of intentional or accidental nuclear weapons use, and by the recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of a nuclear detonation. (See ACT, June 2017.)

“We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a July 7 statement.

The effort and outcome united individuals such as Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, and former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, who oversaw the U.S. nuclear force under President Bill Clinton.

Thurlow, who has spent her lifetime advocating nuclear abolition, brought many participants to tears as she called on them to “pause for a moment to feel the witness of those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Perry, who now warns of a nuclear abyss, applauded the treaty as “an important step towards delegitimizing nuclear war as an acceptable risk.”

“Though the treaty will not have the power to eliminate existing nuclear weapons, it provides a vision of a safer world,” Perry said in a July 7 statement.

A note of discord emerged as the negotiations concluded. The Netherlands called for a vote, instead of allowing adoption by consensus. The Dutch delegates explained that the treaty was incompatible with its obligations as a NATO member, had provisions that are not verifiable, and could undermine the NPT. Singapore abstained after provisions it sought were not adopted.

Outside the negotiation room, opposition was more stark. In a joint statement on July 7, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France strongly rejected the “purported ban” that they said will not result in “the elimination of a single nuclear weapon” since it fails to address the security concerns “that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary.”

“We are disappointed at the ban negotiations, for the proposed treaty will be ineffective at best and may in fact be deeply counterproductive,” Chris Ford, special assistant to the president and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation on the U.S. National Security Council, said in a July 10 email to Arms Control Today. “We hope, however, that the more thoughtful of its supporters will join us in seeking genuinely effective measures related to ending nuclear arms races and fulfilling the objectives of the NPT.”

Ford said the Trump administration is engaged in “efforts to reduce nuclear dangers worldwide,” including through initiatives to strengthen the NPT; secure or eliminate nuclear materials “that might otherwise fall into the hands of terrorists and other rogue actors;” improve nuclear safety; counter threats to nuclear facilities; improve crisis communications between nuclear powers to reduce the risk of nuclear accident or miscalculation; and promote and maintain strategic stability through diplomatic engagement and “effective arms control.”

This agenda “includes a commitment, consistent with the NPT, to seeking to ease tension and strengthen trust between states in ways that will help reduce nuclear dangers and offer the best hope of fulfilling the NPT’s objectives,” he said.

Treaty Provisions

The treaty has a 24-paragraph preamble acknowledging the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the value of existing international disarmament agreements, including the NPT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and nuclear-weapon-free-zone agreements, as well as the right of states-parties to peaceful nuclear energy applications.

States-parties are prohibited to use, threaten to use, develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, station, or install nuclear weapons or assist with any prohibited activities. Non-nuclear-weapon states are required to have, at a minimum, a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

A state-party must declare, when joining the treaty, whether it has eliminated a previous nuclear weapons program, currently has nuclear weapons, or holds anther country’s nuclear weapons on its territory. In the latter case, it must remove them when it signs the treaty.

A nuclear-weapon state can accede to the treaty and eliminate its nuclear weapons in one of two ways: it can join the treaty and then destroy its nuclear weapons, or destroy its nuclear weapons and then join the treaty. States that “destroy and join” must cooperate on verification with a “competent international authority” to be designated in the future. States that “join and destroy” must immediately remove nuclear weapons from operational status and submit a time-bound plan for their destruction within 60 days of joining the treaty.

The treaty requires any current or former nuclear weapons state that seeks to join the treaty to conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA to verify that nuclear materials are not diverted from peaceful to weapons purposes. The treaty also obligates states-parties to provide victim assistance and environmental remediation to those affected by nuclear weapons use and testing.

Biennial meetings of states-parties will address implementation and other measures. Review conferences will be held every six years. The treaty enters into force 90 days after the 50th state ratifies it.

Issues During Negotiations

The treaty underwent significant revisions during two sessions of often constructive but at times contentious negotiations. Language on declarations, safeguards, and treaty accession by nuclear-weapon states was the most heavily revised, largely for precision and clarity.

The biggest debates centered on whether to include controversial language on prohibitions and strengthening safeguards re­quirements. Whyte Gómez chose not to incorporate contested proposals into the final text in order to conclude a treaty with broad support. The failed measures include a proposal supported by Cuba and Iran for additional prohibitions on financing and transit of nuclear weapons, which Brazil and Mexico opposed. Sweden and Switzerland pushed for stronger safeguards requirements, specifically a reference to the IAEA Model Additional Protocol, but Brazil opposed making mandatory a previously voluntary agreement.

There was a last-minute debate on July 5 about removing the clause that permits withdrawal from the treaty, which Whyte Gómez ultimately decided to retain.

The Work Ahead

Supporting states hailed the achievement, even as many dele­gates acknowledged the treaty is only a step toward nuclear disarmament. The treaty “lays the foundation,” but adoption is “just the beginning,” Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi, Austria’s permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said in a statement after the vote.

The negotiators agreed to set 50 ratifying states as the threshold for the treaty’s entry into force, but they recognized the accord will have greater normative weight with the more states that join. Although most of the 122 states that voted to approve the treaty will likely sign this year, the ratification process will be more time consuming, especially if the major nuclear-armed states seek to dissuade key states from ratifying.

Under the terms of the accord, states-parties are obligated to press other states to “accept, approve or accede to” the treaty with a “goal of universal adherence.” Brazil was among those to hint at the challenge of reaching that goal, urging “a continued dialogue with those that did not join this treaty, including those with nuclear weapons.”—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Posted: July 10, 2017

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Nuclear Nonproliferation