Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the centrepiece of global efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of nuclear disarmament.

The NPT entered into force in 1970. With over 190 Parties, it is the most widely adhered to treaty in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament. Under the NPT, non-nuclear-weapon States parties commit themselves not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices while nuclear-weapon States parties commit not to in any way assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State party to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Nuclear-weapon States parties under the Treaty are defined as those that manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device before 1 January 1967, which includes five States.

While the IAEA is not a party to the NPT, it is entrusted with key verification responsibilities deriving from the Treaty. Each non-nuclear-weapon State party is required under Article III of the NPT to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA to enable the IAEA to verify the fulfilment of the State’s party obligation under the Treaty.

The IAEA therefore has a specific verification role as the international safeguards inspectorate, namely to verify the fulfilment of obligations assumed under the NPT by non-nuclear-weapon States party with a view to preventing the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.