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Preparing the Way for the NPT Review Conference in 2005

Inspector on the field

Safeguards inspections are part of the Agency's responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Credit: P. Pavlicek/IAEA)

Story Resources

Nearly 190 States will meet at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 26 April to 7th May 2004 to consider developments affecting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The meeting -- referred to as a Preparatory Committee or ‘PrepCom’ session -- comes at a time when the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime faces critical challenges. During the session, NPT Parties will consider issues affecting the purpose, operation and implementation of the Treaty and agree on strengthening measures to be approved at the Treaty's upcoming Review Conference in 2005.

The NPT is the world’s most widely adhered to multilateral arms control Treaty, and is considered a cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. However, in today’s climate the multilateral nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament process faces critical challenges that include: the continuing refusal by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to submit its nuclear programme to IAEA verification; on-going IAEA efforts to verify the nuclear activities of Iran and Libya; the discovery of a sophisticated illicit market in nuclear technology and materials; and slow progress in nuclear disarmament.

IAEA Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that the "NPT has served us well since 1970" when it entered into force. He expressed hope that at next year's NPT Review Conference, "parties to the Treaty will consider urgently needed measures and agree on a specific course of action that will help re-engineer the nuclear non-proliferation regime and revive the stalling nuclear arms control and disarmament process". (See: 'Director General Statements' in Story Resources.)

The IAEA is not a party to the NPT but is entrusted with key roles and responsibilities under it. The Agency has specific roles as the international safeguards inspectorate and as a multilateral channel for facilitating the transfer of peaceful applications of nuclear technology.

The Agency will make a statement on the opening day of the Preparatory Committee on 26 April at the United Nations, and other statements on a strengthened Agency safeguards system and co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy will be issued throughout the week. In addition, the Agency is organizing a briefing on verification under the NPT on 4 May 2004, also at the United Nations.

This is the third and final PrepCom session in the run up to the Treaty’s Review Conference to be held 2-27 May 2005 to review its implementation.