New Zealand celebrates 40 years of Nuclear Treaty

  • Georgina te Heuheu
Disarmament and Arms Control

Forty years after its entry into force on 5 March 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remains at the heart of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, Disarmament Minister Georgina te Heuheu said today.

"The NPT has served humanity very well in drastically slowing the spread of nuclear weapons," the Minister said. "Given that forty years ago the nuclear arms race seemed unstoppable, this is an enormously significant achievement."

New Zealand was one of the original signatories of the NPT, which with 187 signatories is one of the most widely supported international treaties. 

This May, the parties to the NPT will meet for a five-yearly Review Conference.  This is the opportunity to examine how well the Treaty has been working and to consider proposed recommendations to improve its operation. 

"New Zealand remains as strongly committed as ever to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to the NPT," Mrs te Heuheu said.

"While the world has changed over the last forty years, we are still confronted with the danger of nuclear weapons and the fear of their proliferation.  We are currently working to make a strong contribution to the Review Conference in May."

Mrs te Heuheu added as a further contribution to working against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, New Zealand had agreed to take its turn to host the annual meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

This group works to ensure vigilance in any trade in goods that could support nuclear weapons programmes.  As such it is one of the most effective practical nuclear non-proliferation measures. 

The experts-level meeting will take place in Christchurch in June.

Mrs te Heuheu said New Zealanders can be proud of the country's stance on nuclear weapons as demonstrated by being an original signatory to the NPT.

The NPT is based on an agreement between the five acknowledged nuclear-weapon-states and virtually the rest of the international community in which the non-nuclear-weapon states agree not to acquire nuclear weapons in return for access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Importantly the nuclear-weapon states undertake to work for nuclear disarmament.


The NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. It was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

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