Nuclear powers reaffirm commitment to NPT

12 May 2008

The five major nuclear powers - China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA - have reaffirmed their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called on Iran and North Korea to fully address international concerns.

Representatives from over 100 countries took part in a two-week meeting seeking to pave the way towards the review of the United Nations-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, between 28 April and 9 May.

In a joint statement delivered by the UK's John Duncan on the final day of the meeting, the five major nuclear powers said: "The proliferation of nuclear weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The NPT has served the global community well over the last four decades. It remains a key instrument for collective security and the bedrock on which the international architecture to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons is built. We wish to see the NPT thrive and therefore affirm our unequivocal commitment to strengthening the Treaty and to a successful outcome to the 2010 Review Conference."

The statement added: "We reaffirm that all States Party must ensure strict compliance with their non-proliferation obligations under the NPT. The proliferation of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations, imperils prospects for progress on other important NPT goals such as nuclear disarmament, and hurts prospects for expanding international nuclear cooperation."

However, the nuclear weapons states recognized the proliferation threats arising from Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programmes and confirmed their "determination to achieve satisfactory resolution of these dossiers through dialogue and negotiations."

The statement noted, "The proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear programme continue to be a matter of ongoing serious concern to us." The five countries called on Iran to "respond to the concerns of the international community through prompt and full implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA." With regards to North Korea, the countries restated their support for the six-party talks process "moving towards the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

"A growing number of States Party is showing interest in developing nuclear programmes aimed at addressing their long-term energy requirements and other peaceful purposes," the statement noted. The five nuclear powers stated that they "are ready to cooperate with States Party in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful uses and we emphasize the requirement for compliance with non-proliferation obligations and for development of research, use and production of nuclear energy to be solely for peaceful purposes."

They added, "We welcome the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle and encourage efforts towards a multilateral mechanism to assure access for all countries to nuclear fuel services as a viable alternative to the indigenous development of enrichment and reprocessing." The statement said that such an approach would "support implementation of the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a safe and secure fashion, preserve the existing competitive open market, respond to the real needs of recipient countries and simultaneously strengthen the non-proliferation regime."

The NPT came into force in 1970 and is seen as the cornerstone of global non-proliferation. It is reviewed every 5 years. The meeting in Geneva was the second of three sessions of the Preparatory Committee of the Parties to the Treaty on the NPT. The third session of the committee will be held in New York between 4 and 15 May 2009, while the Review Conference will be held between 26 April and 21 May 2010, also in New York.