The Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) of 1968 is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non proliferation and disarmament regime. It obliges the nuclear-weapon states which are parties to the Treaty (the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom) to strive for complete nuclear disarmament. In return, non-nuclear-weapon states refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Treaty also regulates cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.
A total of 190 states have acceded to the NPT, while four – India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan – have not. North Korea declared its withdrawal from the Treaty in January 2003 and its final status has been left open by the NPT community since then. Germany acceded to the Treaty on 2 May 1975.
Maintaining a balance between the three pillars of the NPT – nuclear disarmament, non proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy – is the key challenge. It is also important to promote the universalisation of the Treaty and to continue appealing to India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan to accede to it.
The Treaty is under great pressure, as shown by the example of North Korea and the threat that the INF Treaty will be terminated. The discussion on a conference to create a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction is also putting strain on the NPT. One of the reasons for the termination of the 9th Review Conference (27 April to 22 May 2015) without a new consensus was because of this issue.
Germany worked right up to the last minute with the partners of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) to find a compromise.
Review Conferences are held every five years. The aim of these conferences is to document progress made in implementing the Treaty, decide on further action and strengthen the Treaty so that it measures up to current challenges. Despite intensive negotiations, the 2015 Review Conference was unable to reach an agreement on a final document. It is thus all the more important to make the Treaty fit for the future ahead of the 50th anniversary of its entry into force in 2020.
The position of Germany and the EU
In the German Government’s view, the strengthening of the Treaty regime, particularly through consistent implementation of the Action Plan adopted by the 2010 Review Conference, remains a crucial goal. In this context, Germany is committed to a strong profile for the EU, but is also engaged with like-minded partners from other regions of the world. Now the goal must be to strengthen the NPT with new initiatives.
NPDI – Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative
The Non-Proliferation and Diarmament Initiative (NPDI) plays a key role in this area. The group was formed on 22 September 2010 with a meeting of Foreign Ministers during the UN General Assembly. It aims to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in keeping with the 8th NPT Review Conference final document (2010). It is resolved to take practical steps towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Besides the initiators – Australia and Japan – the members are Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.