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THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY (NPT)


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THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY (NPT)

WRITTEN BY
OKAFOR MICHAEL UGOCHUKWU


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

BACKGROUND
INTRODUCTION
CONTRIBUTIONS OF UN TO THE NPT
3.a  THE ROLES OF UN IN THE NPT
3.b  THE IAEA AND THE NPT
3.c.  THE POST COLD WAR PERIOD
         3.c.i   THE AGREED FRAMEWORK
         3.c.ii   THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS FREE ZONES
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE NPT
4.a   THE THREE REASONS
4.b.  OTHER KEY OBJECTIVES
NPT SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES
5.a   SUCCESSES
5.b   CHALLENGES
CONCLUSION
6.b   CONTRIBUTIONS


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 BACKGROUND
The United States nuclear attack on the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which consequently ended the second world war (1939-1945) revealed the potentials of nuclear weapons and the need for its possession and control. This was brought to light in the rivalry between US and USSR during the cold war (1947-1991). But it was not just these states that desired nuclear weapon proliferation, as the  Soviet Union in 1949, the United Kingdom in 1952, France in 1960, and the Peoples Republic of China in 1964, became nuclear-weapon states and increasingly it was becoming apparent that earlier assumptions about the scarcity of nuclear materials and the difficulty of mastering nuclear technology were inaccurate(1). Other developments and prospects further underscored the threat of nuclear proliferation.
Hence considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the believe that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war, the United nations in accordance with its charter of desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between states, facilitated and provided a forum for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)(2).
The United nations is in the best position to forge the remaining work towards world weapons control and the only organisation available to deal with these issues and capable of serving the needs and interest of a bread range of countries each having multifaceted disarmament goals(3).


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INTRODUCTION
The treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, commonly known as the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), is an international treaty signed on July 1st 1968 and entered into force in march 5th 1970, seeks to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons(4). It’s 190 states-parties, with the exemption of Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan and India, are classified in two categories; nuclear weapon states (NWS) consisting of the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom and the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS)(5). Under the treaty, the five NWS commits to pursue general and complete disarmament while  the NNWS agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons, which are the first two “pillars” of the treaty(6).
The third pillar ensures that non-nuclear weapons states can access and develop nuclear technology for peaceful application. With its near-universal membership, the NPT  has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement, with only the aforementioned states remaining outside the treaty and calls for a review conference every five years to assess progress on achieving the treaties key objective(7).
Thus the present essay is an attempt to examine briefly, the united nations contributions to the NPT, the objectives of the NPT, it’s successes and it’s challenges.


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3. CONTRIBUTIONS OF UN TO THE NPT
3.a  THE ROLES OF UN IN THE NPT
The elimination of nuclear weapons has been at the forefront of the United nations agenda since its inception. Despite the fact that nuclear weapons have only ever been used twice in warfare history (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) there are around 22,000 nuclear weapons that remain globally and it would take only one of these to cause irreversible and catastrophic damage, potentially leading to existential risk(8).
 The organisation began immediately to address the nuclear problem through multilateral and bilateral treaties to prevent nuclear proliferation and testing including the NPT, Partial Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Program as well as creating a commission to deal with the problems relating to atomic energy known as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The IAEA was established in 1957 as an autonomous international organisation within the United nations system which serves as the world foremost intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy(9).

3.b  THE IAEA AND THE NPT
The IAEA is not a party to the NPT but is entrusted with a key verification under it and reports to the UN general assembly, security council and the office for disarmament affairs. With its 168 member states, the IAEA has a specific role as the international safeguard inspectorate and also serves as a multilateral channel for transferring peaceful application of Nuclear technology which is stated in NPT Articles III and IV respectively(10).
With the withdrawal of North Korea (1974-1994), the IAEA has been heavily criticised after the nuclear reactor explosion near Chernobyl, Ukraine and in Fukushima, Japan. But since the 2010 review conference, the IAEA has continued it’s effort to resolve outstanding safeguards implementation issues in the states-Finland, Australia and Japan(11).


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3.c  THE POST COLD WAR PERIOD

3.c.i  THE AGREED  FRAMEWORK
On the 4th November 1994, the United nations security council formally endorsed the “Agreed Framework”, a nuclear accord discussed for years and was negotiated between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) and the United States of America. This encouraged the latter to replace the formal’s graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities with light-water reactors (LWR) power plant and also to seek full normalization of political and economic relations between the two states, security on a nuclear free Korean peninsula and to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Despite the success of the Agreed framework in nearly one decade, North Korea’s failure to come into full compliance with its IAEA safeguard obligations and the United States failure to help in building of LWR and moving to normalize relations (the two crucial precept of the agreement) lead to the collapse of the agreement in 2006(12).

3.c.ii  THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS FREE ZONES
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) are distinct areas or zones around the world which have been agreed upon under a treaty or convention by states themselves to be in “total absence of nuclear weapons” as defined by the UN General Assembly. These zones are an important part of nuclear non-proliferation and the wider aim at complete disarmament as they act as a regional effort to solidify these norms(13).
The UN Disarmament Commission has outlined a set of recommended principles and guidelines for states to follow in the establishment of NWFZ in accordance with the safeguard agreement of IAEA and the requirements of NPT which are as follows: emphasising the need for states to arrive at these arrangements themselves; nuclear-weapon states should be consulted on agreements in order to facilitate their signature and ratification as not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against nations that are party to the Treaty and finally NWFZ should not prevent the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes(14).
 There are five Treaties on regional NWFZ but for the sake of this paper, attention shall be focused on post cold war NWFZ Treaties which are as follows. 
Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok,1995)
African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba, 1996)

Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (Treaty of Semipalatinsk, 2006)(15).

4.  AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE NPT
The NPT consists of a complex sets of obligations each of which is represented in its objectives, which centres on the Desire to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control(16).
Hence, it is on this note that the NPT rested it’s three grand pillars; non-proliferation, the peaceful use of nuclear energy and disarmament, which shall be discussed in details as well as  the summary of NPT Article.

4.a  THE THREE PILLARS
Non-proliferation: Under Article I of the NPT, nuclear- weapon states pledge not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices to any recipient or in any way assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear-weapon state in the manufacture or acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Under Article II of the NPT, non-nuclear-weapon states pledge not to acquire or exercise control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and not to seek or receive assistance in the manufacture of such devices. Under Article III of the Treaty, non-nuclear-weapon states pledge to accept IAEA safeguards to verify that their nuclear activities serve only peaceful purposes(17).
Peaceful Uses: NPT Article IV acknowledges the right of all Parties to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to benefit from international cooperation in this area, in conformity with their non-proliferation obligations. Article IV also encourages such cooperation(18).
Disarmament: Under Article VI of the NPT, all Parties undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race, to nuclear disarmament, and to general and complete disarmament(19).
These pillars are interrelated and mutually reinforcing but they are not the only obligations that provides an essential foundation for progress on disarmament, as their are other objectives which makes possible greater cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


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4.b  OTHER KEY OBJECTIVES
Article v emphasized  on peaceful nuclear explosions which is interpreted in light of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)  while  Article VII enshrines the right of any group of states to conclude regional treaties to assure the absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories (nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties)(20).
The remaining articles are procedural. In accordance with Article VIII, States parties convene every five years to review the implementation of the Treaty and, since 1995, to set a forward-looking agenda. At the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, States parties decided to “strengthen” the review process and to convene 10-day Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings in each of the three years preceding a Review Conference (RevCon). If necessary, a fourth PrepCom may convene in the year of the Conference(21).

 THE NPT SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES

5.a SUCCESSES
 The NPT is the bedrock of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime which includes the framework of legal restrictions, safeguards, export controls, international cooperation, and other mechanisms that help to prevent proliferation.  The success of  the NPT shall be categorized into; security, non-proliferation regime, peaceful uses  and disarmament.
Security: The NPT is the only internationally-binding agreement that provides a global barrier to the spread of nuclear weapons. The Treaty, the norm of non-proliferation which it embodies, and the elements of the wider non-proliferation regime that the NPT underpins have helped prove wrong the mid-20th century predictions that 20 to 30 states would acquire nuclear weapons(22). The bulwark against proliferation that they provide enhances the individual security of every state, as well as global and regional security. The Treaty lessens the incentives for states without nuclear weapons to acquire them and contributes to the peaceful settlement of disputes between states. Once opened for signature, the Treaty helped crystallize decisions by countries to cease serious consideration of nuclear weapons programs. Later, it provided a valuable framework to support countries’ decisions to renounce nuclear weapons(23). Thus, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina gave up its nuclear weapons program and adhered to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state(24). The NPT also encourages groups of states to conclude treaties to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories. Five nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties have been concluded(25).

The Non-proliferation Regime: The NPT is the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. The regime also includes the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safeguards system, a network of bilateral and multilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, the system of multilateral export controls, and a series of UN Security Council Resolutions. The NPT has provided a mechanism to monitor the nuclear related activities. The treaty and the IAEA safeguards have provided the tools to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and reliance on an evolving IAEA safeguards system is reflected in Article III of the Treaty as the mechanism by which non-nuclear-weapon states verify their adherence to their peaceful use undertakings(26). Article III links safeguards to export controls by requiring the application of IAEA safeguards to nuclear exports to non-nuclear-weapon states. The Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group are the two bodies committed to developing export controls to prevent the diversion of nuclear and nuclear- related exports from peaceful to weapons purposes without hindering cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy(27). UN Security Council Resolution and associated resolutions bolster this system by mandating that all UN Member States develop and enforce appropriate legal and regulatory measures against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery(28).
Peaceful Uses: In the 40 years since the NPT’s entry into force, there has been tremendous growth in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nuclear applications in food security, disease prevention, medicine, water resources, and environmental management improve the lives of people around the world every day. Nuclear power reactors in over 30 countries supply nearly 15% of the world’s electricity, a figure poised to grow as over 50 power reactors were under construction at the end of 2009(29). More than 60 countries are currently considering new civil nuclear power programs, and efforts to help these states develop their infrastructure through civil nuclear cooperation have expanded in response and the benefits described in Article IV are being exercised to a degree not seen in decades, if ever before(30). The United States is committed to ensuring that the benefits from the peaceful application of nuclear energy are shared by all states committed to their NPT responsibilities, as there are agreements for cooperation with nearly 50 states, plus the IAEA and the United States is also the largest donor to the IAEA and its Technical Cooperation program, which has enhanced the capabilities of more than 100 IAEA Member States to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy(31).
Disarmament: The NPT is critical to sustaining progress toward disarmament because it is the principal legal barrier to the spread of nuclear weapons and because its Parties undertake in Article VI “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control(32).” There has been significant progress on disarmament since the NPT’s entry into force, whilst the five NPT nuclear-weapon states reiterated their commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons(33). The United States, through negotiated agreements and unilateral actions, has reduced significantly its nuclear stockpile, reduced the role that nuclear weapons play in its security policy, and removed from its stockpile excess highly-enriched uranium and plutonium(34).

5.b  CHALLENGES
Despite its success, the  NPT and the larger non-proliferation regime are not static. Over the past forty years the regime has been confronted with many challenges  and has adapted itself to address many challenges to a possible extent. Three challenges shall be discussed as follows;
Noncompliance with Non-proliferation Obligations: One of the key challenges to the Treaty continues to be noncompliance with non-proliferation obligations by a few NPT non-nuclear-weapon states. The overwhelming majority of NPT Parties do comply with their non-proliferation obligations, but continuing compliance challenges make clear the need for the international community to remain vigilant about compliance, to strengthen continually the Treaty’s implementation and the non-proliferation regime, and to continue to pursue international efforts to bring non-compliant states back into compliance(35). States such as North Korea and Iran represents the noncompliance states and they will be discussed below.
• North Korea: After years of noncompliance with its NPT safeguards obligations, in January 2003, North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the NPT. In September 2005, in the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, North Korea committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and to return, at an early date, to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards. North Korea has not honoured its commitments, continually engaged in nuclear proliferation and currently faces sanctions under two UN Security Council Resolutions for its announced nuclear tests in 2006 ,2009 and 2017(36). The full implementation of the Joint Statement remains the core objective of the Six Party Talks.
• Iran: For many years, Iran has conducted unreported nuclear activities, including enrichment. In 2005, the IAEA found Iran in noncompliance pursuant to Article XII.C. of the Agency’s Statute because of its failure to comply with its NPT-mandated safeguards agreement(37). Since 2005, the UN Security Council has passed five resolutions, three of which are legally binding, calling on Iran to suspend its enrichment-related activities and heavy water-related projects and imposing sanctions on Iran for its lack of compliance(38).
Abuse of the Treaty’s Withdrawal Clause:  Article X of the NPT sets forth the right of Parties to withdraw from the Treaty and the requirements that must be followed in doing so(39). However, there is a growing concern among Parties about the potential for abuse of the withdrawal clause, particularly withdrawal by a Party while it is in violation of its Treaty obligations(40). It is clear that a State would remain responsible under international law for violations of the NPT committed prior to withdrawal, and the UN Security Council has indicated that it would address “without delay” any notice of withdrawal from the NPT under Article X(41). Withdrawal from the NPT may also trigger the termination of the NPT-mandated safeguards agreement. As such, there is also concern regarding the continued use of nuclear material and equipment that may have been supplied to a State while it was still an NPT Party, and the ability of the IAEA to continue to ensure it is used for peaceful purposes(42).
The Non-State Actor Threat: The  21st century experience of terrorist attacks planned to cause mass civilian casualties, including the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, has meant a heightened awareness of the threat posed should non-state actors gain access to nuclear weapons or nuclear or radiological materials, or attack a nuclear facility and the revelation of the A.Q. Khan network and the extent of its illicit activities has made clear the potentials of non-state actors to further proliferation(43). The international community’s response to the growing awareness of the non-state actor threat has been multifaceted. It includes the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, UN Security Council Resolutions, national efforts to prevent proliferation to non-state actors, and the IAEA’s nuclear security program(44).

6. CONCLUSION
In conformity with resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, the Nuclear non-proliferation has adopted every possible means on the preclusion of further dissemination of nuclear weapons. With over 180 parties, the NPT remains  the most widely adhered to arms control agreement in history. This impressive membership, which continues to grow, is a concrete reflection of the growing international support for nuclear non-proliferation.
The NPT did provide an important milestone in global efforts to avert nuclear catastrophe. In some ways, the NPT was a success to some extent, after it went into force in 1970, almost all nations capable of building nuclear weapons rejected this option. Furthermore, through disarmament treaties and individual action, the nuclear nations divested themselves of a significant number of their nuclear weapons. Also the shortcomings could be seen in nations that have resisted honouring their full obligations under the NPT and the nuclear powers delayed in implementing their rhetorical commitment to full-scale nuclear disarmament.

6.b  CONTRIBUTION
It is clear that the Non Proliferation Treaty has enjoyed some success in curbing nuclear proliferation, as most states have signed and abide by the rules of the NPT but concern remains about those who have not signed. For instance the nuclear programme of Israel has made Iran a likely proliferator due it’s conflict with Israel and historically Iraq, same goes to North Korea who’s proliferation could inspire Japan. Hence it could be said that states are more likely to proliferate when they are worried about their security needs and the NPT have not done much to address these post cold war problems.


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END NOTES
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Robin, clempson(2004), “how successful has the NPT  regime been in curbing nuclear proliferation?” pdf.
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REFERENCE
Peter(1998), “the return of the bomb”, New Republic, vol.219 issues, p22-27.
Christopher, Mcicnight Nicholas(2004), “Nuclear strategy and proliferation after cold war”, Oxford University Press.
Eiclund, S, “how to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”, pdf.
Hacker, Siegfred(2006), redefining Denuclearization in North Korea, the bulletin of atomic scientists, https://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/redifining-denuclearization-north-korean, retrieved 21-12-2010.
Langewiescho, William(2004) “The wrath of khan” the Atlantic magazine, http://www.theatlantic.com/the-wrath-ofkhan/4333/1/.
Marco, Rossini(2003), nuclear weapons free zones; social science research network, pdf.
Mishra, J.(2008) “NPT and the developing countries” concept publishing company, pdf.
Robin, clempson(2004), “how successful has the NPT  regime been in curbing nuclear proliferation?” pdf.

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OKAFOR MICHAEL UGOCHUKWU

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