Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

Donish Khan
March 21, 2012

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2012


The United States use of nuclear warheads on Japan in Nagasaki and Hiroshima during world war 2 was the first and only time to date nuclear weapons were used in a war. The aftermath of which for was approximately 100,000 casualties in Hiroshima and 70,000 casualties in Nagasaki. [1] It was immediately obvious that considering the devastating potential of nuclear weapons, an alternative idealogy behind must be adopted for the sake of mankind. In 1968, the United Nations compiled the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and it was opened for signatures to nations around the world in order to promote peaceful nuclear use. [2] The treaty contained 11 articles in which agreeing nations would have to abide by.

NPT's 3 Main Clauses

The first main clause of the NPT is that countries entering the treaty would agree to promote and make efforts towards non proliferation. This means that current nuclear weapon states (NWS) would agree to not transfer nuclear weapons and/or devices to non nuclear weapon states (NNWS). In addition, NWS would also have to agree to not in any way "assist, encourage, or induce a NNWS to acquire nuclear weapons".

The second main clause is an agreement on disarmament. Agreeing nations would have to, "in good faith", make efforts in disarming and liquidating existing nuclear weapons and make efforts toward an eventual withdrawl from the nuclear arms race. [2]

The third main clause is an agreement to use nuclear energy for only peaceful purposes. A caveat of this clause is that nuclear technology can be traded between nuclear weapon states and non nuclear weapon states but only under the pretense that the technology will be used in a peaceful manner. In addition, a NNWS obtaining nuclear technology to start a nuclear program must be able to demonstrate that the technology will be used for peaceful purposes only.


Despite the positive intentions of the NPT, there has been criticisms of its effectiveness and fairness from some nations specifically nations without an established nuclear program. Nations, in particular India, that has never signed or abided by the treaty argued that it is unfair for already nuclear nations to impose limiting sanctions on nuclear weapon development while they observe no signs of disarmament and liquidation of nuclear stockpiles from the nuclear states. [3] Pranab Mukherjee, India's External Affairs Minister, is quoted to say, "If India did not sign the Non Proliferation Treaty, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider Non Proliferation Treaty as a flawed treaty and it did not recognise the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment." [3] India became a NWS and tested its first nuclear weapon peacefully in 1974, but has still to date has not signed the NPT. [4,5]


The success of the Non Proliferation Treaty cannot solely be judged on its criticisms. As of 2010, there exists 172 states, including 5 NWS, that have signed and are in agreement with the articles of the treaty. [5] This wide scale adherence makes the NPT one of the most important disarmament agreements of our time.

© Donish Khan. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] M. S. Lindee, Suffering Made Real: American Science and the Survivors at Hiroshima (U. Chicago Press, 1994).

[2] "Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,'' International Atomic Energy Agency, INFCIRC/140, 22 Apr 70.

[3] "India Dismisses NPT as 'Flawed' Treaty," Times Of India, 23 Mar 07.

[4] G. Perkovich, India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (U. of California Press, 2002).

[5] "Final Document, 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Vol. 1," United Nations, NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I), June 2010, p. 38.