4 April 1997
Background Release The Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will hold its first session at United Nations Headquarters from 7 to 18 April 1997. The Preparatory Committee, open to all States parties to the Treaty, will address its own organization and procedures, as well as those of the Review Conference, and ways to promote full implementation of the Treaty. As provided by the Treaty, which entered into force on 5 May 1970, review conferences are held every five years.
The NPT, which now has 186 States parties, is a landmark international treaty designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and to further the goal of general and complete disarmament. Under the Treaty, each nuclear-weapon State party undertakes not to transfer nuclear weapons to any recipient or assist, encourage any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Similarly, each non- nuclear-weapon State party undertakes not to receive the transfer of nuclear weapons or manufacture or otherwise acquire them.
Further, each non-nuclear-weapon State party undertakes to conclude safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to prevent the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. All parties have the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The NPT, in addition to the review conferences, which in 1975 and 1985 resulted in final declarations on the review of the Treaty's operation, also called for a conference to be held 25 years after its entry into force to decide whether the Treaty should continue in force indefinitely, or be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. That conference -- the historic NPT Review and Extension Conference -- was held at Headquarters from 17 April to 12 May 1995.
At the Review and Extension Conference, the parties decided, without a vote,
that, as a majority existed among the States parties of the Treaty for its
indefinite extension, in accordance with article X, paragraph 2 the Treaty,
shall continue in force indefinitely. The parties also adopted decisions on
strengthening the review process for the Treaty and on principles
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and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as a resolution on the Middle East. It was unable, however, to adopt a final declaration on the review of the Treaty's operation.
By adopting the decision on strengthening the review process for the Treaty, the parties agreed that review conferences should continue to be held every five years and that, accordingly, the next review conference should be held in the year 2000. They also decided to hold meetings of the Preparatory Committee in each of the three years prior to the Review Conference, beginning in 1997. If necessary, a fourth preparatory meeting might be held in the year of the Conference.
According to the decision of the parties, the Preparatory Committee meetings will "consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality, and to make recommendations thereon to the Review Conference. These include those identified in the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non- proliferation and disarmament, adopted on 11 May 1995. These meetings should also make the procedural preparations for the next Review Conference".
The parties further agreed that review conferences should look forward, as well as back. They should evaluate the results of the period they are reviewing, including the implementation of undertakings of the States parties under the Treaty, and identify the areas in which, and the means through which, further progress should be sought in the future. Review conferences should also address specifically what might be done to strengthen the implementation of the Treaty and to achieve its universality.
The forthcoming session will set into motion the new strengthened review process for the Treaty. States parties are expected to engage in the practical implementation of the decisions taken in 1995. The first and future sessions are also aimed at addressing organizational and procedural aspects of the Preparatory Committee and of the 2000 Review Conference itself. Those include, among others, decisions on: dates and venues of further session of the Preparatory Committee and their chairmanship; the date and venue of the Conference and its presidency; decision-making; participation of others than States parties; financial arrangements for meeting the costs of the Conference and its preparatory process; and the rules of procedure and the agenda of the Conference.
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