Nuclear weapons convention

Nuclear weapons convention

A nuclear weapons convention is a proposed international treaty that would prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as provide for their elimination. It would be similar in form to existing conventions outlawing other categories of weapons, such as biological weapons, chemical weapons and anti-personnel mines.



The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states that "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes 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." In 1996, The International Court of Justice concluded that this means "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

Each year since 1996, the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution calling on all countries immediately to fulfill their disarmament obligation, as articulated by the International Court of Justice, "by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention." In 2007, 127 countries voted in favour of the resolution, including four countries with nuclear weapons: China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.[1]

In 1997, a consortium of experts in law, science, disarmament and negotiation drafted a model nuclear weapons convention, which Costa Rica submitted to the UN Secretary-General as a discussion draft.[2] The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons launched an updated version of the model convention in 2007 at a meeting of parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and Costa Rica submitted this as a Conference Document.[3]


The model convention would require countries with nuclear weapons to destroy them in stages, including taking them off high alert status, removing them from deployment, removing the warheads from their delivery vehicles, disabling the warheads by removing the explosive "pits", and placing the fissile material under UN control. As well as outlawing nuclear weapons, the convention would prohibit the production of fissile materials suitable for making them, namely highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium.[citation needed]

It would establish an agency to ensure that countries comply with the terms of the treaty. This body would receive progress reports from nuclear-armed states, conduct inspections of weapons facilities, acquire intelligence through satellite photography and remote sensors, and monitor the production and transfer of materials suitable for making nuclear weapons.[citation needed]

On 24 October 2008 the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed a nuclear weapons convention in an address to the East-West Institute entitled "The United Nations and security in a nuclear-weapon-free world." In his five-point program he proposed two alternatives for nuclear disarmament negotiations, either "a framework of separate, mutually reinforcing instruments," or "a nuclear-weapons convention, backed by a strong system of verification," citing the Costa Rican proposal as a good point of departure on the second option.[4]


The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons campaigns for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.[5] High profile supporters include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Nobel laureate Jody Williams, mayor of Hiroshima Tadatoshi Akiba, former World Court judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, former UN under-secretary-general for disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala, and former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans.[6]

A 2008 poll put global public support for a NWC at 76%, with 16% against.[7]


France, Russia, the UK and the US oppose a NWC.[8]


  1. ^ accessed 23-12-10
  2. ^ Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, A/C.1/52/7, 17 November 1997.
  3. ^ Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, Working paper submitted by Costa Rica, NPT/CONF.2010/PC.I/WP.17, 1 May 2007.
  4. ^ The United Nations and security in a nuclear-weapon-free world, Address to the East-West Institute by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 24 October 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^ accessed 23-12-10
  7. ^ accessed 23-12-10
  8. ^*q7DIUJKlvWzveW-0ti6A accessed 23-12-10

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