Common Concerns

Public concern about the use of nuclear materials and technology for the development of illegal nuclear weapons is understandable. The nuclear proliferation danger is an issue derived from the intentions of governments instead of the existence of nuclear power plants or even of nuclear fuel-cycle facilities. Many people also perceive a positive connection between nuclear energy and international security, especially when Iranian or North Korean nuclear intentions have been front and centre on the international agenda since early 1990s.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Mr Michael Stewart (2nd right seated) signs the NPT in London
Photo: AP & IAEA

To safeguard global security, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has taken up the role of gatekeeper against illegal nuclear weapon development on an inter-government level through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy are the three pillars of NPT to safeguard global nuclear security.

Currently, the countries that possess nuclear weapons – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – have been urged to speed up the progress of disarmament. Although India, Israel and Pakistan have never signed the treaty, and despite occasional departures from treaty adherence by North Korea, Iraq and Iran, NPT participation is almost universal with 190 state participants. The nuclear weapon situation has remained generally stable for a very long time.