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Treaty On The Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons

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Origins of the NPT

The United States tested the first ever nuclear device at Alamogordo, New Mexico during the summers of 1945. Over the next 25 years, the international community has struggled with a basic dilemma: how to restrain and contain the atom’s destructive effects while harnessing the vast potential it has got for peaceful uses.While the earliest efforts to address this dilemma achieved little success. There was U.S.-sponsored plan in 1946, called the Baruch Plan which sought to outlaw nuclear weapons and internationalize the use of nuclear energy. It failed, and by 1952, three states had nuclear weapons. The 1950s and early 1960s saw U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative, the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the development of IAEA safeguards, and the expansion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, two more countries had nuclear devices by 1964, and concern heightened that the spread of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes could not be divorced from the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Finally in the early 1960s, efforts to achieve a legally binding agreement to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons began to show results. In 1961, the United Nations General Assembly approved a Resolution sponsored by Ireland calling on all states to conclude an agreement that would ban the further acquisition and transfer of nuclear weapons. In 1965, the Geneva disarmament conference began consideration of a draft nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The conference completed its negotiations in 1968, and on July 1, 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was opened for signature. The NPT entered into force on March 5, 1970, with 43 Parties, including three of the five nuclear-weapon states: the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.The Three Pillars – The NPT’s grand bargain rests on three pillars: non-proliferation, the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and disarmament.


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.

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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.


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.


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