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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at 50
February 27, 2020

Black and white image of men in suits signing a document on a conference table
President Lyndon B. Johnson (far right) looks on as Secretary of State Dean Rusk signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. (© Corbis/Getty Images)

The NPT is the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, reinforcing international peace and security and preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons. Global nuclear stockpiles are at their lowest levels since the 1950s, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

The treaty, which entered into force March 5, 1970, is the fundamental internationally binding agreement aimed at curbing nuclear proliferation and has the broadest support of any nuclear-related treaty in history.

Countries that joined the NPT agreed to take these actions:

  • Prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • Promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • Pursue good-faith negotiations on disarmament, including nuclear disarmament.

“The NPT has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the looming threat that nuclear weapons would proliferate across the globe,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said in a 2018 statement (PDF, 194 KB), joined by his U.K. and Russian counterparts. “The success of the NPT was not foreordained. … It depends on our concerted and sustained efforts.”

Countries that are party to the NPT meet every five years to assess its implementation and discuss how to meet future challenges. The next meeting will be held on April 27–May 22 in New York.

Black and white image of two men shaking hands while other men in suits look on
Andrei Gromyko of the Soviet Union (center) shakes hands with Sir Geoffrey Harrison of Great Britain while U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson looks on after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968. (© TASS/Getty Images)

Source: ShareAmerica