Parties to the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are meeting at the United Nations in New York through 19 April to lay the groundwork for the Treaty's next Review Conference in 2005. At the opening session, the IAEA's Mr. Tariq Rauf briefed participants on developments relative to the Agency's roles and responsibilities under the Treaty. Mr. Rauf is Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination in the Director General's Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination.
The NPT is considered by most States as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Every five years, the Treaty's Parties, presently 187 States, meet to review its implementation. The next such Review Conference is due in 2005. This month's meetings in New York kick off a series of three scheduled Preparatory Committee, or "PrepCom", meetings open to all NPT Parties.
The Treaty entrusts the IAEA with specific roles as the international safeguards inspectorate and as a multilateral channel for transferring peaceful applications of nuclear technology:
NPT Article III: The IAEA administers international safeguards to verify that non-nuclear weapon States party to the NPT fulfill the non-proliferation commitment they have made, "with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
NPT Article IV: The Agency facilitates and provides a channel for endeavours aimed at "the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world."
In practical terms, the IAEA also is seen as having roles in connection with verification of nuclear-weapon-free zones and in the context of verifying ex-nuclear weapon material.