Arms Control and International Security: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Promoting Nonproliferation

“We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century.”

– President Barack Obama


Since its entry into force in 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has served as the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and proven essential to international security. Articles I, II, and III of the Treaty seek to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, require non-nuclear-weapon states to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to verify that their nuclear activities serve only peaceful purposes, and link safeguards to export controls. The NPT also supports the conclusion of nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) treaties among groups of regional states aiming to secure the absence of nuclear weapons from their territories.


The NPT has faced serious challenges to its integrity from cases of Parties violating their nonproliferation obligations. The United States plays a leading role in the effort to ensure that the international community responds to cases of NPT and safeguards noncompliance and provides the IAEA with the necessary resources and political support. In addition to proliferation by states, non-state actors have been involved in illicit nuclear trade and have expressed interest in nuclear technology, weapons, and materials. The United States is working with its partners to strengthen our shared security by addressing the full range of proliferation threats.

Continuing, Cooperative U.S. Actions to Strengthen Nonproliferation Since 2010

  • Working to strengthen IAEA safeguards and ensure that the Agency has the necessary resources to fulfill its safeguards obligations, including by pledging more than $180 million in extra-budgetary and in-kind support to the Department of Safeguards.
  • Abiding by the provisions of our Additional Protocol and encouraging universal acceptance of the Additional Protocol.
  • Maintaining rigorous nuclear export controls, working to strengthen nuclear export control regimes, and assisting states to implement regime requirements and secure borders.
  • Transmitting to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification the protocols to the South Pacific and African NWFZ Treaties, and signing the Protocol to the Central Asian NWFZ Treaty.
  • Supporting engagement among regional states on arrangements for the proposed Helsinki Conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. 
  • Working with P5+1 partners and the IAEA to address international concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. 
  • Seeking to address Syrian noncompliance with its NPT and IAEA safeguards obligations. 
  • Working with the international community to achieve the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and its return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards. 
  • Collaborating with NPT parties to develop principles to discourage Parties from abusing their right to withdraw from the Treaty.
  • Launching the Nuclear Security Summit process, which has spurred action by States to increase the security of nuclear materials globally. 
  • Providing roughly $59 million in support to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund, strengthening the Agency’s physical protection and nuclear security efforts, and leading the effort to strengthen the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. 
  • Supporting the efforts of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee and other multilateral efforts to combat illicit nuclear trafficking and nuclear terrorism, including the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and the Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program.

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