North Atlantic Council Statement as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Enters Into Force
We reaffirm our commitment to the preservation and strengthening of arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. As the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or ban treaty, nears entry into force, we collectively reiterate our opposition to this treaty, as it does not reflect the increasingly challenging international security environment and is at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.
Arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation have made, and should continue to make, an essential contribution to achieving NATO’s security objectives. NATO Allies, individually and collectively, have a long track record of doing their part, and continue to support a number of initiatives that offer real progress on nuclear disarmament with tangible, effective measures. We continue to support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons, in full accordance with all provisions of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including Article VI, in an ever more effective and verifiable way that promotes international stability, and is based on the principle of undiminished security for all. The NPT remains the only credible path to nuclear disarmament. We recognise commitments made under the NPT in the five decades since its entry into force, and we are resolved to contribute to the preservation, universalisation, and full implementation of the NPT. The upcoming NPT Review Conference presents a major opportunity for the international community to this end. On the other hand, the ban treaty lacks any rigorous or clear mechanisms for verification, and has not been signed by any state that possesses nuclear weapons, and thus will not result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon. It risks undermining the global non-proliferation and disarmament architecture, with the NPT at its heart for more than 50 years, and the IAEA Safeguards regime that supports it.
NATO is a defensive Alliance. The fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion, and deter aggression. A world where the states that challenge the international rules-based order have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. Allies are determined to ensure that NATO’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective, and reject any attempt to delegitimise nuclear deterrence. We do not accept any argument that the ban treaty reflects or in any way contributes to the development of customary international law. The ban treaty will not change the legal obligations of our countries with respect to nuclear weapons. We call on our partners and all other countries to reflect realistically on the ban treaty’s impact on international peace and security, including on the NPT, and join us in working to improve collective security through tangible and verifiable measures that can reduce strategic risks and enable real progress on nuclear disarmament.