Westerners often give biased or distorted summaries of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They minimize the what the treaty requires of the US and wildly exaggerate what it requires of non-weapons states. Fortunately, we can read it ourselves. The treaty itself is not that long. We can look at all of its articles here.
Article IIt is widely believed that the United States routinely violates Article I in its cooperation with Israel's nuclear program.
Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.
Article IIThe United States accuses Iran of having sought assistance in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon specifically in a document that describes converting the form of uranium that can be enriched into a metal. Can the document be considered "assistance in the manufacture" of a weapon? Arguably it can, in which case Iran's receipt of it was a failure to apply Article II.
Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Article IIIArticle 3 describes the safeguards agreements non-weapons states are to enter with the IAEA. These agreements are to apply to fissionable material - uranium, plutonium and thorium in a country's possession. These agreements do not extend beyond fissionable materials to explosives testing or missile programs.
1. Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfilment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this Article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this Article shall be applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.
2. Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this Article.
3. The safeguards required by this Article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international co-operation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this Article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.
4. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall conclude agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the requirements of this Article either individually or together with other States in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such agreements shall commence within 180 days from the original entry into force of this Treaty. For States depositing their instruments of ratification or accession after the 180-day period, negotiation of such agreements shall commence not later than the date of such deposit. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of initiation of negotiations.
The Additional Protocols, which are not a requirement of the NPT, do create broader obligations on its signatories, including obligations to provide information not directly related to fissionable material. Iran has not ratified the Additional Protocols and by the terms of the NPT and of the Protocols themselves, the Additional Protocols are not in legal force in Iran. The UN Security Council resolutions demand that Iran comply with all Additional Protocols terms and with terms that extend beyond those. Iran and the West disagree on the validity of these obligations. These are the "obligations" or "requirements" that US officials refer to in speeches about Iran.
Article IVOne thing to point out is that the right to enrich uranium does not come from the treaty, but rather the pre-existing right is not affected by the treaty. Another thing to point out is that Western opposition to Iranian enrichment is unrelated to Iran's particular history. Israel believes it has a strategic need for a monopoly in nuclear capability, and especially that no hostile state have such capability. The West is attempting to fit the treaty to this Israeli strategic need. If Brazil or Japan were close to Israel and had populations that considered Israel to be an ongoing regional injustice, the US would oppose their nuclear programs as it opposes Iran's program.
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.
2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.
The treaty explicitly spells out that the inherent right to technology is to be applied without discrimination and the Western position is as clear a case of discrimination as could be possible. Iran rejects the US position that rivals of Israel cannot be nuclear weapons capable. The US position really is an affront to the language and the spirit of the treaty.
Article VNon-weapons states are not to be disadvantaged by their agreement not to produce or acquire explosive devices. Article 5 is among the least controversial in the treaty. So far there have not been many non-military uses for nuclear explosions so sharing such applications is not a pressing issue.
Each Party to the Treaty undertakes to take appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty on a non-discriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude any charge for research and development. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body with adequate representation of non-nuclear-weapon States. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.
Article VIArticle 6. Barack Obama describes this as the US having an obligation to "reduce its nuclear stock". Now the United States has a far larger stock than it did when it ratified this agreement but the obligation is in plain language here. The US has an obligation to enter negotiations in good faith, among other things, on a treaty on general and complete disarmament. It just has not happened. There is no possible interpretation that puts US policy since the treaty was ratified in line with its obligations under Article 6. The United States simply has not complied and has expressed no intention of ever complying with this article.
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 under strict and effective international control.
Article VIIAdditional regional treaties regarding nuclear proliferation are not required but not restricted by the NPT.
Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.
Article VIIIThe NPT can be amended, but amendments only come into force on countries that ratify the amendments.
1. Any Party to the Treaty may propose amendments to this Treaty. The text of any proposed amendment shall be submitted to the Depositary Governments which shall circulate it to all Parties to the Treaty. Thereupon, if requested to do so by one-third or more of the Parties to the Treaty, the Depositary Governments shall convene a conference, to which they shall invite all the Parties to the Treaty, to consider such an amendment.
2. Any amendment to this Treaty must be approved by a majority of the votes of all the Parties to the Treaty, including the votes of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty and all other Parties which, on the date the amendment is circulated, are members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The amendment shall enter into force for each Party that deposits its instrument of ratification of the amendment upon the deposit of such instruments of ratification by a majority of all the Parties, including the instruments of ratification of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty and all other Parties which, on the date the amendment is circulated, are members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Thereafter, it shall enter into force for any other Party upon the deposit of its instrument of ratification of the amendment.
3. Five years after the entry into force of this Treaty, a conference of Parties to the Treaty shall be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to review the operation of this Treaty with a view to assuring that the purposes of the Preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realised. At intervals of five years thereafter, a majority of the Parties to the Treaty may obtain, by submitting a proposal to this effect to the Depositary Governments, the convening of further conferences with the same objective of reviewing the operation of the Treaty.
Article IXGeneral and uncontroversial procedures for maintaining the treaty.
1. This Treaty shall be open to all States for signature. Any State which does not sign the Treaty before its entry into force in accordance with paragraph 3 of this Article may accede to it at any time.
2. This Treaty shall be subject to ratification by signatory States. Instruments of ratification and instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, which are hereby designated the Depositary Governments.
3. This Treaty shall enter into force after its ratification by the States, the Governments of which are designated Depositaries of the Treaty, and forty other States signatory to this Treaty and the deposit of their instruments of ratification. For the purposes of this Treaty, a nuclear-weapon State is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967.
4. For States whose instruments of ratification or accession are deposited subsequent to the entry into force of this Treaty, it shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession.
5. The Depositary Governments shall promptly inform all signatory and acceding States of the date of each signature, the date of deposit of each instrument of ratification or of accession, the date of the entry into force of this Treaty, and the date of receipt of any requests for convening a conference or other notices.
6. This Treaty shall be registered by the Depositary Governments pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Article XThe right to leave the treaty. Each party can decide for itself that it will no longer abide by the terms of the treaty and can have the terms released after three months. A non-weapons state does not "forswear" having nuclear weapons. It promises not to have a weapon until three months after it notifies the UN that it has decided it needs one.
1. Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.
2. Twenty-five years after the entry into force of the Treaty, a conference shall be convened to decide whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. This decision shall be taken by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty.
Article XIAnd that's it.
This Treaty, the English, Russian, French, Spanish and Chinese texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Depositary Governments. Duly certified copies of this Treaty shall be transmitted by the Depositary Governments to the Governments of the signatory and acceding States.
Under what terms does a nation lose its right to enrich uranium, or to hold a stockpile of low-enriched uranium that could in theory be used to make a weapon after further processing? There are no terms saying anything like that in the treaty itself.
Iran has established and is now consolidating a legal nuclear weapons option. Such an option does not conflict with the letter or the spirit of the NPT at all while US efforts to prevent Iran from gaining such a capability is in violent opposition to the terms and spirit of the treaty.