The NPT is the centrepiece of global efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of nuclear disarmament. It entered into force in 1970. With over 190 Parties, it is the treaty most widely adhered to in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament.
While the IAEA is not a party to the Treaty, it is entrusted with key responsibilities. The IAEA has a specific verification role under Article III of the Treaty as the international safeguards inspectorate. The IAEA also serves as a multilateral channel for facilitating transfers of nuclear technology for peaceful applications to its Member States in accordance with its Statute.
The NPT represents a balance of rights and obligations for States, differentiating between non-nuclear-weapon States (NNWSs) and nuclear-weapon States (NWSs) (defined as States that manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967, i.e. China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America).
Under the NPT, the NWSs committed, inter alia, not to transfer to any recipients nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any NNWSs to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Each NNWS is required to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA to enable the IAEA to verify the fulfilment of the State’s obligation under the Treaty. The five NWSs have concluded voluntary offer safeguards agreements covering some or all of their peaceful nuclear activities. Three States that are not party to the NPT have concluded item-specific agreements with the IAEA.