The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The NPT entered into force in 1970 and Australia ratified the treaty in 1973. The only states not to have joined the NPT are India, Israel, Pakistan and the newly independent South Sudan. On 24 September 2009, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) underscored the importance of the NPT in the nuclear non-proliferation regime when it passed Resolution 1887, which call on all member states to comply fully with their obligations under the treaty, urge non-members to accede to the treaty and reinforce the right of states to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The Treaty and the nuclear non-proliferation safeguards system provided through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) make a crucial contribution to regional and international peace and security. Overall, the NPT has been successful in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.
The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) acts as Australia's national safeguards authority responsible for the performance of Australia's safeguards and non-proliferation obligations and for facilitating IAEA safeguards activities in Australia.
Article VIII of the NPT provides that the Treaty be reviewed at five-yearly intervals. The primary objectives of Review Conferences are to assess developments since the previous conference, to address current challenges, and to identify areas for further progress. Australia has been an active and constructive participant in all NPT Review Conferences. At the last Review Conference held in New York in May 2010, States Parties agreed to a final document (‘Action Plan’) that included conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions in the areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the Middle East.