New Hope On the Nuclear Horizon?


By Noel Stott, Senior Research Fellow, Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, ISS Pretoria

To describe 2015 as an interesting year in the quest for a nuclear weapon-free world would be an understatement.

In May, states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) failed to reach agreement on the next steps needed to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In July, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) brokered a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. In August, the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons.

Under the provisions of the NPT, which was extended indefinitely 20 years ago, the five nuclear-weapon states – namely the United States of America (USA), Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom (UK) – committed themselves 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…’ The remaining 185 states parties – the non-nuclear-weapon states – agreed to refrain from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the acknowledgment of their ‘inalienable right’ to research, develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.