JPIL Vol 8 Issue 1/2 2017 - Article 6

THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY—OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF STATES PARTIES: BALANCING THE PILLARS OF NON-PROLIFERATION, PEACEFUL USE, AND DISARMAMENT
Mark Lambert
Abstract
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has a total of 191 Party States, which includes the five 'official' nuclear-weapon States: UK, USA, Russia, China and France. The treaty is dedicated to three main principles: non-proliferation, peaceful use and disarmament. The contention of this article is that each principle is equal in weight and all States must comply with all three primary obligations. However, significant emphasis has been placed on non-proliferation, causing a hierarchical structure whereby the interests and dominance of Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) are ensured over the interests of Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) - principally in NWS disarmament and access to nuclear materials for peaceful use. A misunderstanding of each principle, particularly how one defines terms such as 'disarmament' ensures that the haves retain a monopoly on nuclear weaponry and materials and a resultant disregard for their primary obligations, as set out in the NPT, towards achieving a nuclear weapon-free world. The argument of NWS is that there exists reciprocity in the treaty, whereby State compliance with disarmament is based on Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) complying with their obligations towards non-proliferation. The argument presented here is that such a reciprocal and hierarchical structure of obligations does not exist in the text of the treaty itself and therefore NWS are actively disregarding their primary obligations as set out in the NPT.

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