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Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

What to study?

For Prelims: Objectives of the treaty.

For Mains: Significance and implications of the treaty.

Context: Iran has warned to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if the European Nations refer the dispute over its atomic programme to the United Nation Security Council.

What’s the issue?

Britain, France and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

This move could eventually see the Security Council reimpose international sanctions on the country.

Iran has accused the three EU member states of inaction over sanctions the United States reimposed on it after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in 2018.


The landmark 2015 deal reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. Since the U.S. pullout, Iran has progressively rolled back its commitments to the accord in retaliation.

What is NPT?

  • The NPT is a multilateral treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements: (1) non-proliferation, (2) disarmament, and (3) peaceful use of nuclear energy. These elements constitute a “grand bargain” between the five nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states.
  • The treaty was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. Presently, it has 190 member states.


  1. States without nuclear weapons will not acquire them.
  2. States with nuclear weapons will pursue disarmament.
  3. All states can access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under safeguards.

Key provisions:

  1. The Treaty defines nuclear weapon states (NWS) as those that had manufactured and detonated a nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967. All the other states are therefore considered non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).
  2. The five nuclear weapon states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  3. The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Role of states:

  1. Nuclear weapon states are not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons and not to assist, encourage, or induce any NNWS to manufacture or otherwise acquire them.
  2. Non-nuclear weapons states are not to receive nuclear weapons from any transferor, and are not to manufacture or acquire them.
  3. NNWS must accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear materials on their territories or under their control.

Sources: the Hindu.