Set up on 5 March, 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is an establishment that focuses on preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, to encourage peaceful nuclear energy use and take the disarmament goal further. As per the treaty, the countries with nuclear weapons should disarm and not make nuclear weapons, and nations without nuclear weapons must not freshly develop or acquire nuclear weapons. This was supposed to reduce arms race pace and limit strategic weapons development competition. States with nuclear materials and technology must declare the same to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA inspectors should be able to routinely access the states’ facilities for timely inspections and monitoring.

At the time (in 1970) when NPT became an international law, the world had only five countries with nuclear weapons: United States of America, United Kingdom, USSR, France, and China. They are called nuclear weapon states (NWS). As of June 2016, NPT has almost 190 states under its wing – prominent exclusions being India, Pakistan and Israel, and also North Korea that was once part of NPT but withdrew in 2003. The majority of NPT members are non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). In 1995, 25 years post setting up the law, a conference was convened to determine the treaty’s future. It was then decided the treaty would stay in existence indefinitely.

Background and Development

During the early 1960s, the technology to make nuclear weapons was no longer confidential or restricted to only governments. The science entailing atom explosion and fusion became part of public literature courtesy academic journals. As a result, private companies were also able to pursue nuclear technology. Plutonium (nuclear weapons’ core) was becoming easier to acquire and inexpensive to process. Consequentially, in 1964, the world saw five nuclear powers, as aforementioned. NPT was opened on July 1, 1968 for signature, and it was signed on the same day by the U.S., U.K., Soviet Union and 59 more countries.

Comparing NSG and NPT

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was set up in 1974 after NPT was put into force in 1970. Though having similar objectives, NSG doesn’t come under NPT’s purview. It, in fact, makes up for NPT’s shortcomings. For instance, NPT membership was limited when the NSG was established. Moreover, NPT cannot possibly contain nuclear weapon proliferation all by itself, even within its member countries. France joined NPT in 1992, but it was a part of NSG since 1975, proving there isn’t a lot connecting NSG and NPT.