With the voluntarily increasing of Nuclear Weapons in the world, the threat and the irreparable damage of its use brought the consideration of world leaders into it. The leaders from the world have come forward to bring various treaties to curb its proliferation and future use.
The IAEA promotes adherence to and implementation of International legal instrument on Nuclear Safety adopted under its auspices. This includes the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, as well as the two emergency preparedness and response conventions.
Convention on Nuclear Safety:
• Adopted in Vienna, Austria on June 17 1994, and came into force on October 24, 1996, to commit participating states operating land based civil nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of safety by setting international benchmarks to which States would subscribe.
• The basis of the convention is Parties' common interests to achieve higher level of safety to be ensured through regular meetings.
• It obliges parties to submit reports on the implementation of their obligations for "peer review" at meetings that are normally held at IAEA Headquarters.
• As of July 2015, there are 78 state parties to the Convention plus the European Atomic Energy Community. The states that have signed the treaty but have not ratified it include Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Ghana, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Uruguay.
• The Organizational Meeting for the Seventh Review Meeting was held on 15 October 2015.
Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste management:
• Adopted in Vienna on 5th September 1997 and came into force on 18th June 2001.
• It is the first legal instrument to address the issue of spent fuel and radioactive waste management safety on a global scale.
• The convention applies to spent fuel resulting from the operation of civilian applications. It also applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste from military or defence programmes if such materials are transferred permanently to and managed within exclusively civilian programmes, or when declared as spent fuel or radioactive waste for the purpose of the Convention by the Contracting Party concerned.
• The states that ratify the Convention agree to be governed by the Convention's provisions on the storage of nuclear waste, including transport and the location, design, and operation of storage facilities.
• The Convention implements meetings of the state parties that review the states' implementation of the Convention.
• Five review meetings were convened since the Joint Convention entered into force. The fifth review meeting of the Joint Convention was held in May 2015.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):
• Adopted on June 12 1968 at UN, New York and came into force on March 5th 1970.
• The NPT aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament.
• The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes.
• As of August 2016, 191 states have adhered to the treaty, though North Korea, which acceded in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, following detonation of nuclear devices in violation of core obligations.
• Four UN member states have never accepted the NPT, three of which are thought to possess nuclear weapons: India, Israel, and Pakistan. In addition, South Sudan, founded in 2011, has not joined.
South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Rarotonga Treaty):
• Opened for signature on August 6th 1985, came into force on Dec 11, 1986, a permanent nature treaty which will remain into force indefinitely.
• It was signed by the South Pacific nations of Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa on the island of Rarotonga (where the capital of the Cook Islands is located).
• It formalises a Nuclear -Weapons Free Zone in the South Pacific. The treaty bans the use of testing and possession of Nuclear Weapons within the borders of the zone.
• There are three protocols to the treaty, which have been signed by the five declared nuclear states, with the exception of Protocol 1 for China and Russia who have no territory in the Zone.
– no manufacture, stationing or testing in their territories within the Zone
– no use against the Parties to the Treaty, or against territories where Protocol 1 is in force
– no testing within the Zone
• In 1996 France and the United Kingdom signed and ratified the three protocols. The United States signed them the same year but has not ratified them. China signed and ratified protocols 2 and 3 in 1987. Russia has also ratified protocols 2 and 3 with reservations.
Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok):
• It is a Nuclear Weapons Moratorium Treaty between 10 South-east Asian Member states under the auspices of the ASEAN.
• It was opened for signature at the treaty conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on 15 December 1995 and it entered into force on March 28, 1997 and obliges its members not to develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons.
• The Zone is the area comprising the territories of the states and their respective continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ); "Territory" means the land territory, internal waters, territorial sea, archipelagic waters, the seabed and the sub-soil thereof and the airspace above them.
• The treaty includes a protocol under which the five nuclear-weapon states recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), namely China, the United States, France, Russia and the United Kingdom (who are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council) undertake to respect the Treaty and do not contribute to a violation of it by State parties. None of the nuclear-weapon states have signed this protocol.
Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT):
• Also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty, banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which prohibits all test detonations of nuclear weapons except for those conducted underground.
• The PTBT was signed by the governments of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States in Moscow on 5 August 1963 before being opened for signature by other countries.
• The treaty formally went into effect on 10 October 1963. Since then, 123 other states have become party to the treaty. Ten states have signed but not ratified the treaty.
• Negotiations initially focused on a comprehensive ban, but this was abandoned due to technical questions surrounding the detection of underground tests and Soviet concerns over the intrusiveness of proposed verification methods.
Conference on Disarmament (CD):
• A forum established by the International Community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements.
• Established in 1979, it was the forum used by its member states, currently numbering 65, to negotiate the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
• It is not formally a United Nations (UN) Organization, but it is linked so because of the personal representation of UN Secretary General. Resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly often request the conference to consider specific disarmament matters. In turn, the conference annually reports its activities to the Assembly.
• The Conference succeeded the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1960), the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1962-68) and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (1969-78).
• In the 1990s, the Conference held intensive efforts over three years to draft the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was submitted by Australia to UNGA on Sep 10 1996.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty:
• It is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, in all environments by everyone. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996 but has not entered into force as eight specific states have not ratified the treaty at the time of its adoption.
• As of August 2016, it has 183 signatories of which 166 have ratified it.
– Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control.
– Each State Party undertakes, furthermore, to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.
Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT):
• A proposed international treaty to prohibit the further production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. Neither this treaty has been negotiated nor have its terms been defined.
• Fissile Material is any material which can be used to create a Nuclear Bomb. It includes high enriched uranium and plutonium (except plutonium that is over 80% Pu-238).
• Plutonium-239 is the isotope most useful for nuclear weapons. Plutonium-239 and 241 are fissile, meaning the nuclei of their atoms can break apart by being bombarded by slow moving thermal neutrons, releasing energy, gamma radiation and more neutrons.
• The world has entered a new nuclear age. While the risk of large-scale, world-ending nuclear war has declined, regional instability, the proliferation of weapons and the materials to make them along with emerging threats like cyber and terrorism mean the risk of a single nuclear weapon or device being detonated - by accident, by miscalculation or on purpose - is on the rise.
• Our current nuclear policies have not adapted to today's security environment. This status quo is not sustainable, and the consequences of inaction are unacceptable. Unless we adapt our policies and forces to deal with new and emerging threats, global security will remain at serious risk.