Non-proliferation treaty becomes vital as nuclear threat grows

Illustration by street artist "Lush" Illustration by street artist "Lush" © Lush

23 April 2018

United Nations Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, warns the threat of nuclear weapons is growing.

On Monday 23rd, the opening of the 2018 preparatory meeting for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was held in Geneva.  The NPT Review Conference will be held in 2020, half a century after the treaty was signed at the height of the Cold War, for state parties to discuss and deliberate on disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives. The NPT was initially aimed at preventing mass development of radioactive weapons and providing the foundation for cooperation on nuclear demilitarization, focusing on peaceful use. Today, it has become an ingrained part of our international architecture.

However, the geopolitical environment is deteriorating and Ms. Nakamitsu states that some of the agreement’s important elements, essential to the stability of the collective security framework, are being eroded. Until recently, the main global powers continuously engaged in negotiations to control disarmament. However, the necessity and utility of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction are on the rise as they give state parties a significant degree of leverage politically.

With new technologies modernising global nuclear programmes, it is possible that we are witnessing a new type of arms race, similar to that which gave rise to the NPT.

The success and efficiency of the NPT cannot be taken for granted and must be preserved. It is clear that such an agreement benefits public health and security, making the planet a safer place. Recently, the Democratic Republic of North Korea suspended nuclear test launches, freezing its ballistic missile programme. The United Nations welcomed the action and encouraged other states to follow its example to build trust and engage in sincere dialogue and negotiations.

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