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Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The NPT is the multilateral disarmament treaty that covers nuclear weapons. It is universally recognised and has 187 member states. The treaty has three main distinguishing features: First, there is a sharp distinction made between the rights and obligations of the five states that have acknowledged possession of nuclear weapons (the USA, the Russian Federation, France, the United Kingdom and China) and the other party states; the former commit themselves to gradual disarmament, and the latter undertake not to seek to obtain nuclear weapons.

Second, a system of safeguards is established, which is monitored by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency); and third, the treaty has a five-yearly review mechanism, which means that there is a review this year in New York.

Agreements on the agenda and various procedural issues have been reached at the preparatory meetings for the review of the treaty. However, no agreement has been reached on recommendations for important issues. The conference will probably be dominated by two questions: first, it will show to what extent the US government is committed to progress in terms of safeguards and disarmament measures. Second, there is the Middle East, and more specifically Iran's behaviour in accepting controls over its nuclear programme.

These two questions will be dealt with in issues of Peace in Progress in the near future.
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