The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed in 1968 and it entered into force two years later. The treaty has three central objectives:
- the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons;
- the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons;
- the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The NPT played a vital role in halting the nuclear ambitions of a number of countries. Only a handful of States have acquired the nuclear weapon since 1970. However, the basic principles of the treaty remain under pressure, as demonstrated by the proliferation threat from Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs. Most countries in the world are members of the NPT. For them, the treaty remains the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was signed by Belgium in 1996 and ratified in 1999. The treaty aims at a worldwide ban on nuclear testing. Although the treaty has not yet formally entered into force (subject to the accession of 8 States), certain aspects are already operational, such as a nuclear test detection system. The treaty organization (CTBTO) monitors compliance with the treaty. In this context, a “national data center” is set up in every Member State, in Belgium this is NDC.be, about which you can read more at this page.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency was created in 1957. Belgium became a member in 1958. The IAEA ensures that nuclear energy is not misused for non-peaceful purposes. The Agency supervises the nuclear material and carries out inspections in all Member States.
The humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons are catastrophic. Prevention of –intentional or unintentional – use is therefore of vital importance. The reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is our goal.
Belgium is in favor of a gradual and realistic approach, aimed at concluding irreversible and verifiable disarmament agreements between the nuclear powers.
The United States and the Russian Federation own 90% of the global nuclear arsenal. Belgium calls on them to make further progress in reducing this arsenal. Countries that do not possess nuclear weapons also bear a responsibility. They must strengthen the non-proliferation architecture by acceding to relevant treaties, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. They can contribute to initiatives that prevent proliferation or promote disarmament.
Belgium is active in the following initiatives:
International Partnership for the Verification of Nuclear Disarmament (IPNDV).
The United States created this Partnership in 2015. They invited Belgium to examine, together with some 25 other countries, how to tackle the technical challenges associated with the verification of nuclear weapons decommissioning. It concerns for instance the question of how to physically verify the dismantling of nuclear weapons without disclosing sensitive information. The IPNDV does not only focus on theoretical studies, but pays attention to exercises and demonstrations. Against this backdrop, the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK-CEN) organized a meeting in September 2019 for scientists from different countries. Nuclear measurement techniques were tested and compared. The scientists examined how to distinguish between plutonium aimed for civil use and weapon-grade plutonium and how to precisely measure different amounts of nuclear material.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a group of 48 countries that supply nuclear material and work together to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The NSG adopts guidelines for export control that must prevent legitimately traded nuclear goods from being diverted for military use. Belgium is chairing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2020-2021.