The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is vital to world security. It has near universal membership. It is the only treaty requiring the nuclear-weapon states to negotiate on nuclear disarmament. It is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Yet it faces great challenges ahead.
Disarmament has been very slow – over 20,000 nuclear weapons remain, modernization programmes are underway, and nuclear deterrence is still practiced. Some proliferation concerns remain in three regions. Many non-nuclear-weapon states still face obstacles to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while some non-NPT states have received special benefits.
The world is now exploring how to close the final chapter in the nuclear weapons story – their elimination through a universal, transparent, verifiable, and irreversible treaty, or a framework of binding legal instruments. The NPT Review Conference last May adopted a 64-point Action Plan to achieve the treaty’s key goals, and to promote the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. And the UN will have many important roles to play in all of these areas over the years ahead.
* Sergio Duarte UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
* Jean-Marc Coicaud, Director of United Nations University Office at the UN, New York
Conference Room 6, Temporary North Lawn Building, UN Headquarters, New York