How is the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) related to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty?

The NPT lays the foundation of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. When it was being negotiated in the late 1960s, a permanent ban on nuclear testing was seen as an important element of such a non-proliferation regime.

The preamble of the NPT refers to the “determination expressed by the Parties to the 1963 Treaty banning nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water and its Preamble to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to continue negotiations to this end.”

The CTBT was a part of the package when the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. States Parties to the NPT agreed to achieve a comprehensive test ban treaty no later than the end of 1996 in exchange for the NPT being extended indefinitely. The CTBT was also part of the agreement to pursue nuclear disarmament at the 2000 NPT Review Conference in 2000.

The NPT and the CTBT are complementary when it comes to the control of nuclear activities. With the NPT as its legal basis, the IAEA monitors the “upstream” dimension of nuclear weapons development (i.e. uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing and fuel fabrication) while the CTBT is meant to monitor the “downstream” final proof of a State’s intention to develop nuclear weapons, the nuclear test explosion. 

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