40 years of the Non-Proliferation Treaty

01.07.2008 - Press release

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was opened for signature 40 years ago today. The Treaty now has 188 member States. It obliges the participating nuclear-weapon States to aim towards complete nuclear disarmament; in turn, the non-nuclear-weapon States declare a comprehensive renunciation of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, all Contracting Parties work together on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (1 July) issued the following statement:

“The Non-Proliferation Treaty is of fundamental importance for international security. For this reason we must take seriously indications that the substance of the treaty is being eroded. We cannot simply accept that interest in acquiring nuclear weapons seems to have reemerged in some regions of the world. Given that there are still 30,000 nuclear warheads around the world, we cannot allow any slackening of international disarmament endeavours!

In the wake of the failure of the Review Conference in 2005, the next Conference in 2010 must issue a clear signal in favour of the preservation and strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. There are two points at issue:

Firstly, we must determinedly counter the dangers of proliferation. We are therefore cooperating resolutely with our partners to achieve a diplomatic solution to the cases of proliferation in Iran and North Korea. We are committed to improving the IAEA safeguards, and we have made proposals for the multilateralization of the nuclear fuel cycle designed to prevent possible misuse of civilian uses of nuclear energy.

On the other hand, however, we need new dynamism in nuclear disarmament. The nuclear-weapon states are called upon to step up their efforts towards disarmament, to cut their numbers of nuclear weapons, and to put the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into effect as quickly as possible.

The aim of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is and will remain a world without nuclear weapons. The Federal Government will continue to pursue this goal with the utmost commitment.”

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