World begins preparation for NPT review

02 May 2007

The first of three meetings meant to develop recommendations for the 2010 Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review meeting has got underway in Vienna, Austria.

The meeting was open to the NPT's 187 signatory nations, of whom 130 have sent delegations. Coming into force in 1970 and made permanent in 1995, the NPT is often described as the cornerstone of global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. In effect it is a deal by which countries that held nuclear weapons before 1968 promised to take steps towards permanent disarmament, while nations without atomic weapons promised not to develop then.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is charged with the responsibility of verifying the compliance of the non-weapons states, as well as aiding them in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The only countries in the world never to sign the NPT are India, Pakistan and Israel. Both India and Pakistan have developed nuclear weapons, while Israel is widely thought to have done so.

The NPT has been seen to be 'under strain' since North Korea withdrew from the treaty and subsequently advanced its weapons program to the point of conducting a test in October 2006. The international community is also currently concerned over the intentions of Iranian leaders with respect to their uranium enrichment program.

An immediate challenge for the chair, Japan's ambassador Yukiya Amano was a dispute over the wording of the agenda. The Iranian delegation disputed language which would reaffirm "the need for full compliance" with the NPT, complaining that this would draw undue attention on one country. However, the Iranian delegation's statement, made on 1 May, itself complained that states holding nuclear weapons had not done enough to disarm in line with NPT commitments.

The official name of the meeting, which runs from 30 April to 11 May, is the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) in advance of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Further information

International Atomic Energy Agency

Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

WNA's Safeguards to Prevent Nucler Proliferation information paper

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