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17. Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation


Overview, Tariq Rauf [PDF]

I. Resolving concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, Tariq Rauf [PDF]

II. The 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, Tariq Rauf [PDF]

III. Other developments in multilateral arms control and disarmament, Tariq Rauf [PDF]

Iran’s nuclear deal

The highlight in nuclear non-proliferation in 2015 was the landmark multinational agreement on limitations on Iran’s nuclear programme. Negotiations between Iran and France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and the United States, facilitated by the European Union (the E3/EU+3) yielded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which defines a wide-ranging monitoring and verification regime to be implemented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. The JCPOA was signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 in parallel with a ‘Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme’ signed by Iran and the IAEA. The provisions of the JCPOA were incorporated into United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which paves the way for the lifting of all multilateral sanctions on Iran.


Throughout 2015 Iran continued to implement its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as well as the measures under the work plan referred to as the ‘Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation’, agreed between the IAEA and Iran on 11 November 2013, and the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) agreed with the E3/EU+3 on 24 November 2013. During 2015, as in previous years, the IAEA maintained its safeguards conclusion on the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and locations declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. However, the IAEA was not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran remains in use in peaceful activities. This broader conclusion can only be reached for states with an additional protocol in force and for which the IAEA has carried out its safeguards assessment for the ‘state as a whole’.


The 2015 NPT Review Conference

The low point of the year was the rejection by Canada, the UK and the USA of the final document of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. The failure of the NPT Review Conference lay in disagreements over the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, as well as the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament.


The UN General Assembly voted in 2015 to establish an Open Ended Working Group on ‘Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’.


The Conference on Disarmament (CD) once again failed to agree on a Programme of Work and therefore was unable to commence negotiations on any item on its agenda. At a CD High Level Segment on 2–9 March 2015, foreign ministers and senior officials from 31 member states emphasized, among other things, the importance of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.