Owing to continuous efforts, the world community has developed a great number of multilateral agreements aimed at reducing nuclear arsenals, prohibition of their placing in specific regions of the world and natural environments (such as outer space and ocean bottoms), restriction of their proliferation and termination of nuclear weapon tests.

The main issue in this sphere is to reduce nuclear armament, support efficiency of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and prevent development and spreading of ballistic missiles and missile protection systems.

Bilateral Treaties on Nuclear Weapons

When various international forums took efforts to reduce nuclear weapons, it was increasingly recognized that nuclear states were responsible for maintaining the stability and reliability of international safety. During the “cold war” and after its termination, the two major nuclear states signed agreements that significantly reduced the hazard of nuclear war.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty, 1972) limits the number of anti-missile systems of the United States and the former Soviet Union to one system. The Demarcation Agreement of 1997 between the United States and the Russian Federation marks a distinction between “strategic”, or long-range anti-ballistic missile systems which are prohibited, and “non-strategic”, or shorter-range anti-ballistic missiles which are not prohibited. The Treaty ceased to be in force on 13 June 2002 when the United States withdrew from it.

The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles signed in 1987 liquidated a class of nuclear arms which included all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 km. Up to the end of 1996 all the arms to be destroyed were liquidated in accordance with the Treaty.

In 1991 the Soviet-American Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-1) set a range of 6000 warheads at a total of 1600 long-range ballistic missiles, which reduced the level of missiles accumulated in 1991 approximately by 30%.

The Lisbon Protocol to START-1 signed in 1992 obliged the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as successor states of the former Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics to assume the obligations of START-1. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine should join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear states. Up to 1996 these three states eliminated all nuclear arms from their territories.

The Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-2) signed in 1993 obliged the both parties to reduce the quantity of warheads on long-range nuclear missiles to 3500 units for each party and liquidated ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. The Treaty of 1997 continues the final deadline for destruction of launcher systems – missile launch facilities, bombers and submarines – up to the end of 2007, as soon as START-2 comes into force.

On 24 May 2004 the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America signed the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which is also known as the Treaty of Moscow, according to which the number of strategic nuclear warheads is agreed not to exceed 1700-2200. The Treaty is valid up to 31 December 2012 and may be continued on the agreement of the parties or replaced earlier than the set date by the subsequent treaty.

Multilateral Treaties on Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the most universal of all the multilateral agreements on disarmament, was opened for signature in 1968 and came into force in 1970. The NPT is a cornerstone for the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime and is a basis for the process of nuclear disarmament.

The NPT Review Conference in 2000 approved the Final Document in which states possessing nuclear weapons were obliged to perform “An unequivocal undertaking … to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals”.

The Conference agreed on the necessity of increased transparency with regard to the nuclear weapon capabilities and diminishing the role for nuclear weapons in security policies. The public was highly aware of the decision of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to withdraw from the Treaty in 2003. It is the first decision of such a type since the day of the Treaty approval.

The NPT Review Conference of 2005 was conducted from 2 to 27 May in New York.

In order to confirm obligations defined by the NPT, the member states are required to approve safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In 1996 the major part of the members of the General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) for banning of nuclear tests. The Treaty was first offered in 1954, and it took 40 years to adopt it. It is considered a continuation of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in any environment adopted in 1963. The CTBT was opened for signature in 1996, but it is still to come in force. 12 states out of 44 named in Annex 2 whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to come into force have not ratified it yet.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, as a depositary of the Treaty, convoked the Conference three times in order to contribute to CTBT coming into force: in 1999, 2001 and 2003.

170 states that signed the Treaty participate in the Preparatory Commission for CTBT Organization. The Technical Secretariat created in 1997 continues preparatory activities to maintain the international system of monitoring up to the moment the CTBT comes into force. The Agreement to Regulate the Relationships between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission was signed in 2000.

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Tlatelolco Treaty) signed in 1967, as an event which envisaged new achievements in regional control of arms, was the first to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) in this densely populated region of the world. After the ratification of the relevant instrument by Cuba in 2002, the Latin America and the Caribbean nuclear-weapon-free zone includes all the states of this region.

After this epochal treaty, three other agreements on the creation of NWFZ were signed: in the Southern part of the Pacific Ocean (the Treaty of Rarotonga, 1985), in the South-Eastern Asia (The Treaty of Bangkok, 1995) and in Africa (The Treaty of Pelindaba, 1996). By means of these agreements all the populated part of the Southern hemisphere has a nuclear free zone status. In September 2002 five states of the Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) gave a prior consent within the Treaty on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone of the Central Asia. There are offers on the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Central Europe and Southern Asia, as well as the creation of the zone free of nuclear weapons of mass destruction in the Near East. The conception of a separate state as a nuclear-weapon-free zone was approved by the international community in 1998 when the General Assembly supported proclamation of the nuclear-weapon-free zone by Mongolia.

Cooperation within International Organizations

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plays an important role in the international efforts aimed at prevention of nuclear weapons. The IAEA is a unique international inspector in the world on issues concerning nuclear safeguards and control of activities in the sphere of civil nuclear programs.

The IAEA created within the United Nations (UN) in 1957 as an independent organization is an embodiment of the program speech of Eisenhower, the President of the USA, “Atom for Peace” which was issued at the session of the UN General Assembly in 1953. He offered to create international authority which would be aimed at control of nuclear energy and contribute to its use. Services and activities of the IAEA in various spheres are implemented in the interests of 151 member states (as of November 2010).

The main objective of the IAEA according to the Article II of the Agency’s Statute is to contribute to the use of nuclear energy for the peaceful purposes and to ensure that it is not used as to further any military purpose. According to Article III of the Statute, the objectives are as follows: first, to encourage research, development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses; second, to make provisions for services, materials, equipment and facilities; third, to foster the exchange of scientific and technical information; fourth, to encourage the exchange of scientists; fifth, to establish safeguards; sixth, to establish standards of safety for protection of health; and, seventh, to acquire or establish any facilities, plant and equipment.

The main authorities of the IAEA are the General Conference which consists of all the members of the Agency and meets at the session once a year, the Board of Governors which consists of 35 members and carries out several sessions per year, and Secretariat which is headed by the Director General.

The significant obligation within the IAEA activity is defined by Article III of the Statute which is “To establish and administer safeguards designed to ensure that special fissionable and other materials, services, equipment, facilities, and information made available by the Agency or at its request or under its supervision or control are not used in such a way as to further any military purpose; and to apply safeguards, at the request of the parties, to any bilateral or multilateral arrangement, or at the request of a State, to any of that State’s activities in the field of atomic energy”.

In order to contribute to the prevention of further spreading of nuclear weapons, the IAEA uses a system of agreements on safeguards. Safeguards are a set of measures by which the IAEA wants to justify that a state meets its international responsibilities not to apply nuclear programs for the purpose to create nuclear weapons.

The major part of safeguards agreements is signed with states which undertook, at the international level, not to possess nuclear weapons on the basis of the Global Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to which the IAEA is an inspection authority.

Inspection performed by the IAEA helps to ensure confidence in the peaceful use of nuclear materials, facilities and activities. This helps to reduce safety concerns of the states caused by the development of nuclear weapons. “Additional Protocols” to the safeguards agreements with the states contribute to further enhancement of the inspection regime provided by the IAEA. According to these Protocols, the states are obliged to submit to the IAEA more complete information on all the aspects of activities within the nuclear fuel cycle. They also should grant the IAEA with the right of wider access and to allow it to apply the most state-of-the-art inspection technologies. In the customary regime, activities concerning safeguards are performed at more than 900 facilities around the world, including nuclear power plants, research reactors, nuclear fuel facilities and storage sites.

Regional Organizations

Along with the universal organization in the sphere of nuclear energy and nuclear non-proliferation, IAEA, and international mechanisms, NSG and Zangger Committee, there are regional organizations in this area.

The Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) is the most powerful regional organization. It was created in 1957 according to the Treaty of Rome which came into force on 1 January 1958. In 1967 Euratom institutes merged with EU institutions. The initial members were as follows: Belgium, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, France and FRG. At present 27 EU member states are in Euratom.

The objective of the Euratom is to assist in creation and development of nuclear industry, joint research, exchange of scientific and technical information, creation of a common market of equipment and materials. It also must be ensured that ores, source materials and special fissile materials are not diverted from the intended uses.

In the development of the NPT in 1966-1968, Euratom states under support of the USA insisted on applying Euratom safeguards in these countries rather than the IAEA ones. As a result, it was decided that Euratom would sign a multilateral agreement with the IAEA on the Agency’s safeguards in the Euratom states.

Inspectors of Euratom perform inspections under surveillance of the IAEA inspectors or jointly with them, but joint activities caused significant doubling and excessive expenses. In relation to this, in 1992 there was a “new approach to partnership” between the IAEA and Euratom based on the principle “one task, one person”, which helped to significantly reduce the scope of inspection activities of the Agency in the IAEA states with regard to nuclear activity of Euratom.

It is necessary to mention the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) which is a semi-independent institution within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) among other international organizations on nuclear energy of the regional level. The Agency was created in 1958 and was called the European Nuclear Energy Agency, but in 1972 the name was replaced by the NEA as the USA, Canada and some other non-European countries joined it. The objective of the Agency is to ensure cooperation in the development, safety, and regulation of nuclear energy, that is why it is important for the purposes of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Authorities founded according to agreements on the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones belong to regional organizations in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation.


  1. Nuclear Non-Proliferation. Training Manual for University Students. 2 Volumes. Vol. 1, I. A. Akhtamzyan et al. Edited by V. A. Orlova. 2 ed., revised. M. PIR-Center, 2002, pp. 116-149;
  2. http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/Russian/iaea-primer_rus.pdf;
  3. http://www.un.org/ru/peace/disarmament/massdestr.shtml.