The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is fundamental to Canada's nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policy.

The 1970 NPT is the only international treaty that prohibits the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in which the five nuclear-weapon States (NWS) – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – commit to nuclear disarmament.

The NPT, ratified by 189 countries, is one of the most broadly-supported treaties in history. Only Israel, India and Pakistan have yet to adhere to it. Regrettably, in 2003 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) became the first country to invoke its right under Article X to withdraw from it. Every five years, all State Parties meet at a Review Conference to assess and improve treaty implementation.

Three pillars

The NPT has three main pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Canada regards these as equally important, inseparable and mutually reinforcing.


Non-nuclear-weapon States (NNWS) agree not to import, build or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. NWS are obliged not to transfer nuclear weapons or explosive devices to NNWS. Any group of states are permitted to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in their respective territories.


Article VI of the NPT obliges all Parties to the Treaty to undertake "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control". This is the world’s only legally binding obligation on NWS to reduce and ultimately eliminate their nuclear weapons. At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, State Parties to the Treaty agreed on " 13 practical steps" to meet their disarmament commitments.

Peaceful Uses:

All State Parties to the Treaty agree to full exchanges of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. NNWS parties must accept and comply with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as a condition for peaceful nuclear co-operation. The IAEA uses safeguard activities to verify that States honour their commitments not to use nuclear programs for nuclear weapons. IAEA safeguards are "based on an assessment of the correctness and completeness of the State's declarations [to the Agency] concerning nuclear material and nuclear-related activities." The NPT encourages international co-operation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, from medical diagnostics and treatments to power production.

Review Mechanism

The Treaty mandates a Review Conference every five years to review Treaty implementation. Before each Conference, three Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings consider principles, objectives and ways to promote Treaty implementation and universality, and make procedural and substantive recommendations.

1995 Review Conference
2000 Review Conference
2005 Review Conference
2010 Review Conference