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13. The nuclear non-proliferation regime after the NPT Review and Extension Conference




The 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was given indefinite
duration at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in April 1995, and a
universal nuclear non-proliferation regime appeared to be attainable. However,
tensions within the regime over non-compliance questions and between treaty
parties over progress towards nuclear disarmament became more visible and
acute. While the legal foundations of the regime were made permanent, its
objectives and the steps that could be taken to reinforce it are likely
to cause debate over whether the main task of the regime is to prevent nuclear
proliferation by the non-nuclear weapon states within it or to facilitate
the disarmament of the five declared nuclear weapon states (China, France,
Russia, the UK and the USA) and the removal of the ambiguity that surrounds
the nuclear weapon status of India, Israel and Pakistan.

This debate dates from the mid-1960s, when the NPT was
being negotiated, but is acquiring enhanced prominence, in part because
of the steady increase in the number of parties - from the first NPT Review
Conference in 1975 until the end of 1995. In addition, Brazil, a non-NPT
party, has accepted commitments equivalent to NPT membership by bringing
the regional 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco fully into force in its territories.

Three non-NPT states with unsafeguarded nuclear facilities
- India, Israel and Pakistan - are not parties to the NPT or a regional
nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Near-universal adherence to the NPT has
placed them in a more politically visible position than before, enhancing
pressure on them to move away from their ambiguous nuclear stance, as Argentina,
Brazil and South Africa have done, and isolating them politically. India
displays symptoms which could be interpreted as a willingness to undermine
the regime by its principled rejection of the NPT.

Demands for the nuclear weapon states to engage in an unambiguous,
even time-bound programme of disarmament are being strengthened, and pressure
is increasing on India, Israel and Pakistan to clarify their status and
accede to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states.

The core of the disputes over the NPT is the demand that
the division between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states be eliminated.
Disarmament agreements that will reinforce and extend the existing non-proliferation
regime by constraining nuclear weapon potentials and inventories are being
sought. Measures which can contribute to the disarmament of the existing
nuclear weapon states and place constraints on states which remain outside
the NPT - e.g. a comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) and a fissile material
production cut-off - have acquired near-universal support and thus become
attainable political goals.

The activities of at least three non-nuclear weapon states
parties to the NPT - Iran, Iraq and North Korea - were the subject of close
scrutiny and accusations of non-compliance, highlighting the issues of how
the rules of the non-proliferation regime should be specified and enforced,
the basis for imposing restrictions on exports to NPT parties, and the desirability
of changing the conceptual basis and the detailed application of the system
of safeguards administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

After the experience with Iraq, NPT parties were prepared
to expand the role of the IAEA safeguards system and to accept enhanced
monitoring of their nuclear activities. In addition, two new nuclear weapon-free
zone (NWFZ) treaties are in existence in Africa and South-East Asia, while
the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco is about to come fully into force. The nuclear
non-proliferation regime can be argued to have been immeasurably strengthened
in the five years since 1990.

This judgement may be seen as superficial by the end of
the century if some current trends continue. The isolation of India, Israel
and Pakistan is a danger. Difficult choices lie ahead, particularly for
the nuclear non-proliferation policies of the USA. Strategies for dealing
with NPT non-compliance and restraining the nuclear proliferation activities
of states outside the treaty may lead to judgements that incentives are
necessary to influence their behaviour, even if this runs counter to global
norms and consensual rules and appears to reward regime renegades. US policies
towards Iran and North Korea, and the international dissonance that has
accompanied them, illustrate the consequences of the discrimination that
can arise from this source. Yet such contradictions appear almost inevitable
if effective policies are to be designed to handle the future nuclear weapon
scenarios in South Asia and the Middle East.

The utility of nuclear weapons in roles other than deterring
their use is increasingly questioned. The 1995 NPT Review and Extension
Conference may mark the start of the final stage in making the existing
NPT-based nuclear non-proliferation regime universal and the end of the
first stage in the construction of a regime to facilitate a world free of
nuclear weapons.


Appendix 13A. Documents on nuclear arms control and non-proliferation