Today in Geneva at the Palais des Nations nearly 190 States party to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) are convening for the second of three preparatory meetings (PrepCom) for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The PrepCom runs from 28 April - 9 May 2008 and is chaired by the Ambassador Volodymyr Yel´chenko of Ukraine.
PrepCom sessions are intended to lay the groundwork for NPT Review Conferences, which take place every five years. Held in between the NPT Review Conferences, PrepCom is charged with making the procedural arrangements for the Review Conference. PrepCom also seeks to assess the implementation of the NPT and facilitate discussion among States party with a view to making recommendations to the NPT Review Conference.
The IAEA plays a vital role in sustaining the NPT. Article III of the Treaty tasks the IAEA with verifying that non-nuclear weapon States party to the NPT fulfil their non-proliferation commitments undertaken under the NPT, "with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices". The IAEA also facilitates and provides a channel for endeavours aimed at "the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," in the context of Article IV.
IAEA at the 2008 NPT PrepCom
"The 2000 NPT Review Conference Final Document recognized that IAEA safeguards are a fundamental pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, play an indispensable role in the implementation of the NPT and help to create an environment conducive to nuclear confidence, cooperation and disarmament," said Vilmos Cserveny, Director of the IAEA Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination, in the Agency´s statement at the PrepCom delivered today.
The IAEA seeks to strengthen its safeguards system by working to conclude safeguards agreements with States. "Since this time last year, a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) entered into force for one State. There still remain, therefore, 30 NPT States without the required safeguards agreements in force," said Cserveny. "The IAEA once again urges those 30 States Parties that have still to conclude and bring into force their NPT safeguards agreements to do so without further delay, and recommends that every effort be made to accomplish this objective prior to the opening of the 2010 NPT Review Conference." In this regard, the IAEA will hold briefings on CSAs, additional protocols, and small quantities protocols during the second week of the PrepCom in Geneva.
The NPT was opened for signature 40 years ago, in July 1968. The Treaty entered into force in 1970 and its operation has been reviewed at Review Conferences held every five years since 1975. With near universal adherence, the NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the multilateral nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In recent years, however, the NPT regime has come under stress on multiple fronts. It is expected that the second PrepCom session will continue to lay the groundwork for the 2010 NPT Review Conference and will address challenges while also bearing in mind the package of decisions and resolution adopted in 1995 as well as the Final Document agreed in 2000.
Ever since the first NPT Review Conference in 1975, States party to the NPT have reiterated that IAEA safeguards play a key role in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. In the 2000 Final Document, they reaffirmed that the IAEA, in accordance with its Statute and the IAEA´s safeguards system, is the competent authority responsible for verifying and assuring compliance of non-nuclear weapon States party to the NPT under Article III (1) of the NPT.