Background Information

The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will hold its second session from 28 April to 9 May in the Assembly Hall at the United Nations Office in Geneva. The Chairman of the second session is Ambassador Volodymyr Yel’chenko of Ukraine. The Preparatory Committee, open to all States parties to the Treaty, will address substantive and procedural issues related to the Treaty and the upcoming Review Conference in 2010. The NPT, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires that review conferences be held every five years.

The purpose of the Preparatory Committee is to prepare for the Review Conference in terms of assessing the implementation of each article of the NPT and facilitating discussion among States with a view to making recommendations to the Review Conference. The April/May 2008 meeting is the second of three sessions that will be held prior to the 2010 Review Conference.

The NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. It was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Under the Treaty, each nuclear-weapon-State party undertakes not to transfer nuclear weapons to any recipient or assist or encourage any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Similarly, each non-nuclear-weapon-State party undertakes not to receive the transfer of nuclear weapons or manufacture or otherwise acquire them.

To further the goal of non-proliferation, the Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the NPT through inspections conducted by the IAEA. The Treaty promotes cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology and equal access to this technology for all States parties, while safeguards prevent the diversion of fissile material for the development of weapons.

The 2005 NPT Review Conference was not able to agree on a substantive outcome.

At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, States parties agreed on a final document that included specific commitments to work towards the Treaty’s overall goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The Review Conference also reaffirmed the importance of the resolution on the Middle East, adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. The 2000 Final Document also addressed measures to improve the review process for the NPT, specifically the consideration of substantive issues related to the Treaty and the outcome of the review conferences during each meeting of the Preparatory Committee.