The 45th Anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Posted by John Kerry
March 5, 2015
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference at United Nations Headquarters.

All countries share responsibility to confront nuclear proliferation.  All countries benefit if nuclear weapons do not spread to additional countries.  All countries also profit when there is smart, continuous action in the direction of nuclear disarmament.  And all countries gain from cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

That is why the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has served the international community well for the past 45 years.

Simply put, it is the bedrock foundation for nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They include the areas of human health, food and agriculture, water resource management, and the environment.

There are many reasons for the success of the NPT, which entered into force on March 5, 1970.

The international consensus against the spread of nuclear weapons, embodied in the spirit and text of the Treaty, is strong and continues to be upheld.  Overwhelming numbers of states have refrained from pursuing nuclear weapons and accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards as the standard for verification and peaceful nuclear trade.  Several states that abandoned nuclear weapons efforts might have come to a different conclusion in the absence of a robust and widely supported NPT.

Today, as we mark this anniversary, we especially celebrate that more states are party to the NPT than to any other arms control or nonproliferation agreement. But there is more work to do, and we must recommit ourselves to this task.

NPT Parties share a responsibility to reinforce the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, in particular to overcome the challenges posed by a few countries that have violated their international nonproliferation obligations.  This should be a concern of all states, as it is the future integrity of the nonproliferation regime that is at stake.

Our common security would be profoundly affected if additional countries crossed the nuclear threshold.

That is why President Obama and I have committed so much time and attention to seeking an agreement that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it will formally commit to it in perpetuity as a signatory to the NPT, and through a science-based, verifiable agreement with the P5+1 member nations and their partners.

We are also working with the international community to achieve the DPRK's complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and its return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.

The United States is fully committed to continuing to fulfill its own Treaty obligations, as well as to strengthening the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Under the New START Treaty, we are reducing our deployed nuclear weapons to levels not seen since the 1950s, and we are prepared to negotiate further reductions.  Through bilateral agreements and through the IAEA, we also continue to advance peaceful nuclear cooperation with other NPT Parties. We also are proud of our record as the leading contributor of funds to assist such global development.

The Ninth Review Conference of the NPT will open in New York on April 27.  The United States has been working diligently to implement the items in the Action Plan adopted at the 2010 Review Conference, and we seek to strengthen that Plan.

We look forward to working with all NPT Parties to achieve a constructive outcome of the conference.

About the Author: John Kerry serves as the 68th U.S. Secretary of State.  For more from the Secretary, go to www.state.gov/secretary and follow @JohnKerry on Twitter.

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