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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Chapter 2 Nuclear Non-Proliferation1(1) Acceptance and Compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Obligations

A) Accession to the NPT
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) has 191 adherents (including North Korea, the Holy See and Palestine). Among the current 193United Nations (UN) Member States, those remaining outside the NPT are: India and Pakistan, both of which tested and declared having nuclear weapons in 1998; Israel, which is widely believed to possess them; and South Sudan, which declared its independence and joined the UN in July 2011, and does not possess any nuclear weapons. North Korea declared its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, but there is no agreement among the states parties on North Korea’s official status with regard to the NPT. It has refused to return to the treaty despite UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) demanding that it do so at an early date.

B) Compliance with Articles I and II of the NPT and the UNSCRs on nonproliferation
North Korea
Since the NPT entered into force, no case of non-compliance with Articles I and II of the Treaty has been officially reported by the UN or any other international organization.2 However, if North Korea’s withdrawal is interpreted as not being legally valid or if it acquired nuclear weapons before announcing its withdrawal from the NPT, such acquisition of nuclear weapons would constitute noncompliance with Article II. The U.S. Department of State clearly stated in its 2020 annual report, titled “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” that North Korea was in violation of its obligations under Articles II and III of the NPT and in non-compliance with its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Agreement at the time it announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003.3

UNSCR 1787, adopted in October 2006, stipulates that:

[T]he DPRK shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear  programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, shall act strictly in accordance with the obligations applicable to parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the terms and conditions of its Safeguards Agreement (IAEA INFCIRC/403) and shall provide the IAEA transparency measures extending beyond these requirements, including such access to individuals, documentation, equipments and facilities as may be required and deemed necessary by the IAEA.4

The Security Council also decided that North Korea “shall abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” In defiance, North Korea has failed to respond to the UN Security Council’s decisions, and has continued nuclear weapon- and ballistic missile-related activities.

In 2018-19, North Korea engaged in dialogue with the United States under the Trump administration, and three U.S.-North Korea summits were held. However, North Korea never demonstrated a strategic decision to renounce its nuclear weapons. The denuclearization talks ended unsuccessfully.
At the end of 2019, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un accused the United States at the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party: “[T]he U.S. real intention is to seek its own political and diplomatic interests while wasting time away under the signboard of dialogue and negotiations and at the same time keep sanctions upon the latter so as to weaken the latter.” He also stated, “In the past two years alone when the DPRK took preemptive and crucial measures of halting its nuclear test and ICBM test-fire and shutting down the nuclear-test ground for building confidence between the DPRK and the U.S., the U.S., far from responding to the former with appropriate measures, conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop and threatened the former militarily through the shipment of ultra-modern warfare equipment into south [sic] Korea.” 5 According to the report, Chairman Kim “stressed that under such condition, there is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer,” and said: “[W]e should more actively push forward the project for developing strategic weapons, … [and] the world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future.”6 North Korea reiterated at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in January 2020 that it was no longer bound by its commitment to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests.7
Furthermore, First Deputy Director of the Workers’ Party Kim Yo Jong stated in July 2020, “I believe that the previous theme of the DPRK-U.S. negotiations, that is, ‘denuclearization measures versus lifting of sanctions’ should be changed into a formula of ‘withdrawal of hostility versus resumption of DPRK-U.S. negotiations.’ … I hope that the U.S., at this moment in time, does not harbour such a pipedream as trying to restrike a bargain which was put on the negotiations table at the Hanoi summit talks, which entails the partial lifting of sanctions versus the permanent dismantlement of large-scale nuclear facilities like the ones in [Yongbyon], the central nerve of our nuclear development.”8 At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee in October, North Korea clearly stated, “Under the current circumstances, the fundamental guarantee for national security and development is strong selfdefensive capabilities. We possess a selfdefensive deterrent to reliably defend ourselves against any form of highintensity pressure. … We will not pause even a moment on the road of building up most powerful defense capabilities which no one would dare to challenge.”9
On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly said in February 2020 that he had no intention of holding an additional U.S.-North Korean summit meeting before the U.S. election in November.10 In the end, no official bilateral meeting, much less a summit meeting, was held throughout 2020, and no progress was made toward the denuclearization of North Korea.

The E3/EU+3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom/European Union plus China, Russia and the United States) and Iran agreed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA) in July 2015, which stipulates that Iran accepts restrictions on its nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment, and that other parties ease or lift sanctions against Iran. However, the United States decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, and to reimpose sanctions against Iran in May 2018. In response, from May 2019, Iran gradually suspended the implementation of obligations set out in the JCPOA, including limitations on the storage and enrichment level of lowenriched uranium (LEU) as well as of the number of centrifuges for enriching uranium.
In January 2020, Iran announced its fifth breach of the JCPOA, that is, suspending the obligation on limiting the number of operating centrifuges. It also stated that Iran no longer respected any limitations stipulated in the JCPOA, including limits on the storage and enrichment level of LEU as well as of the number of centrifuges.11 At the same time, Iran also made it clear that it would continue to fully cooperate with the IAEA, and that it was willing to return to compliance with the JCPOA if sanctions against Iran were relieved.12

In January 2020, President Trump called for the other JCPOA parties to also withdraw from it, in order to make a new deal with Iran, aiming to have Iran “[abandon its] nuclear ambition and end its support for terrorism.”13 However, the U.S. proposal was rejected. In their joint statement, the top leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom stated, “[O]ur message is clear: we remain committed to the JCPOA and to preserving it; we urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the agreement and return to full compliance; we call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation; and we remain ready to engage with Iran on this agenda in order to preserve the stability of the region.”14 Immediately after this statement, however, these three European countries announced that they activated the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism because of Iran’s non-compliance with the JCPOA.15
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticized the E3 decision, saying it had no legal basis and was a strategic mistake from a political standpoint. He also warned: “If the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT.”16 In addition, a group of Iranian lawmakers proposed a motion to withdraw from the NPT.17 Meanwhile, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell announced the EU’s policy of indefinitely extending the activation of the dispute resolution mechanism because of the “complexity of the issue” and the time required for consultations.18 All parties to the JCPOA, including China and Russia, agreed to continue consultations by experts.
After withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018, the United States continued to step up sanctions against Iran in 2020. With regard to sanctions waivers for non-proliferation-related activities (conversion of the Arak heavy water research reactor, provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor, and the transfer of spent and scrap research reactor fuel out of Iran) by Russian, Chinese, and European companies, the United States renewed a 60-day continuation in January 2020.19 However, Washington announced in May that it would end the sanctions waivers, which finally were terminated on July 27.
Furthermore, the United States proposed to adopt a UNSCR providing for the indefinite continuation of the arms embargo on Iran, which was set to expire on October 18, 2020 in accordance with UNSCR 2231 of 2015 regarding the JCPOA.20 Washington warned that if the U.S. proposal was disapproved, the “snapback” process would be triggered. (The UNSCR 2231 snapback provision holds that, should a party to the JCPOA claim Iran’s noncompliance, and a UNSCR to stop the snapback within 30 days cannot be adopted, UN sanction measures, including the arms embargo, will be reimposed.) Since the permanent members of the UN Security Council have veto power, if even one of them supports reimposing sanctions against
Iran and opposes the adoption of such the UNSCR, the reimposition of sanction could be realized.
Other parties to the JCPOA strongly opposed both continuing the arms embargo against Iran and triggering the snapback process. On August 14, a draft UNSCR, submitted by the United States for an indefinite extension of the arms embargo against Iran, was rejected because China and Russia opposed it and 11 member countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom abstained. Only the Dominican Republic supported the U.S. position.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that the UN Security Council trigger the snapback process. However, parties to the JCPOA argued that the U.S. notification was not effective since the United States ceased to be a JCPOA participant.21 The rotating president of the UN Security Council, Indonesia, said it was “not in the position to take further action” on a U.S. bid to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran because there was no consensus among the UN Security Council member states.22
Still, the United States insisted that the snapback process started with the August 20 notification and would end 30 days later. On September 19, Secretary of State Pompeo stated, “Sanctions are being re-imposed on Iran pursuant to the snapback process under [UNSCR] 2231.”23 However, most of the other Security Council members rejected the reimposition of the UN sanctions against Iran, claiming that the procedure by the United States which withdrew from the JCPOA was neither legitimate nor valid. The arms embargo against Iran under UNSCR 2231 was lifted on October 18, 2020.
Meanwhile, part of the Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz (a building for manufacturing and installing more advanced centrifuges) was heavily damaged by fire in July. Although the cause of the fire is unknown, Iran blames “adversaries,” including Israel, for this incident, and announced in September that it had initiated construction on an underground advanced centrifuge assembly facility in the heart of the mountains near the fire damaged Natanz nuclear site.24
Also in November, the IAEA reports revealed that Iran installed 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz facility, and began feeding them with uranium hexafluoride gas, contrary to JCPOA restrictions.25
In addition, in December, as Iran’s response to the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who is considered to have played a central role in developing Iran’s nuclear weaponsrelated technology, Iran’s parliament enacted a legislation calling for the government to intensify its nuclear program. This legislation stated that enrichment of uranium up to 20% would begin “immediately” and that 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium would be accumulated every month. According to the legislation, Iran would withdraw from the provisional application of the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement if the parties to the JCPOA could not lift sanctions against Iran in two months.26 February 21, 2021 was set as the deadline. After enacting the legislation, the Iranian government announced the adoption of a bylaw, wherein the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) would have two months to prepare a report on the technical and financial requirements for enriching uranium at 20%.27
Furthermore, it was reported: “In a letter dated 2 December 2020, Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz ‘intends to start installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines’ at FEP.”28 Iran also reportedly began construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo, according to satellite photos.29
According to the quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear issues in relation to the implementation of the IAEA safeguards and the JCPOA, submitted by the IAEA Director-General on November 11, 2020, the following has been observed:30

➢ Iran has been enriching uranium up to 4.5% U-235, which is higher than the 3.67% enrichment level stipulated in the JCPOA.
➢ Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was 2442.9 kg.
➢ Iran has not pursued the construction of the Arak heavy water research reactor (IR-40 Reactor) based on its original design.
➢ Iran’s total heavy water stockpile is 128.5 metric tonnes, which is less than upper limit of 130 metric tonnes.
➢ Iran has not carried out activities related to reprocessing at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) or at any of the other facilities it has declared to the IAEA.
➢ Iran continues to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to its
Safeguards Agreement, and the IAEA has continued to evaluate
Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit.
➢ The IAEA detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not previously declared to the Agency. The IAEA took environmental samples at two declared nuclear facilities in Iran. The Agency’s assessment of the analyses of these samples was that some findings were not inconsistent with information provided by Iran, but that there were a number of other findings for which further clarifications and information needed to be provided, and
questions needed to be answered by Iran.
➢ The IAEA considered Iran’s response to be unsatisfactory because it was not technically credible and, therefore, sought further clarifications and information from Iran. A full and prompt explanation from Iran regarding the presence of uranium particles of anthropogenic origin, including isotopically altered particles, at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency, is needed.

Withdrawal from the NPT

Although Article X-1 of the NPT contains some guidance on how a state can legitimately withdraw from the treaty, there remains a lack of clarity over certain aspects of this process. In light of North Korea’s declaration to withdraw from the NPT—and, in order to prevent a state from choosing to withdraw from the NPT after first acquiring nuclear weapons in violation of the treaty—Japan, South Korea and other several Western countries have proposed measures, among others, to prevent the right of withdrawal from being abused, and to exercise their right to incorporate dismantling and/or return clauses or fallback safeguards to be triggered in the event of withdrawal into contracts or other arrangements concluded with the withdrawing state.31
On the other hand, the Chinese and Russian positions on this issue seem more cautious than the abovementioned countries. Furthermore, Brazil, Iran and other NAM countries have been critical of the tightening of withdrawal requirements, arguing that withdrawal is a right of the parties.
Alleged interest in acquiring nuclear weapons
As mentioned in the Hiroshima Report 2020, statements by officials in Turkey and Saudi Arabia suggesting their interest in acquiring nuclear weapons have been the subject of considerable public attention on the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation. Riyadh plans to build 16 nuclear reactors for power generation over the next 25 years, and its first research reactor is currently under construction. However, as mentioned later, negotiations on the revision of the Saudi Arabia’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA have not progressed. In addition, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly made clear its intention to acquire nuclear weapons should Iran develop them. In 2020, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia reserves the right to arm itself with nuclear weapons in the event that Iran acquires nuclear weapons.32

C) Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones
Treaties establishing nuclear-weaponfree zones (NWFZs) have entered into
force in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty), the South Pacific (Rarotonga Treaty), Southeast Asia (Bangkok Treaty), Africa (Pelindaba Treaty), and Central Asia (Central Asian NWFZ Treaty). In addition, Mongolia declared
its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone at the UNGA in 1992, and the UNGA has been adopting a resolution entitled “Mongolia’s International Security and Nuclear-Weapon Free-Status” every two years since 1998, in support of Mongolia’s declaration.33
In September 2020, states parties to the Bangkok Treaty convened the online meeting of the Commission for the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ). They reviewed the implementation of the Action Plan to enhance the treaty during the 2018-2022 period, and agreed to continue discussing and tackling barriers so that NWS could soon sign the Protocol of the Treaty.34

The second session of the “Conference on establishing a Middle East WMD-Free Zone,” which had been scheduled to be held in November 2020, was postponed to not later than November 2021 due to the pandemic of COVID-19.35
At the 2020 UNGA First Committee, Israel stated, “Initiatives of the Arab group, such as the conference on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, goes against the guidelines and principles of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones. Experience of other regions demonstrate that any framework of regional security can only be the outcome of a mutual political desire of all regional parties to engage with each other, taking into consideration the security concerns of each and every state and reflecting arrangements freely arrived at by all states concerned, as stipulated in the 1999 Disarmament Commission Report on Guidelines and Principles for the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.”36
On the other hand, Iran blamed Israel, stating: “Supported by the U.S., the Israeli regime is threatening other regional countries in the Middle East with nuclear annihilation. This regime is the only regional obstacle to the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons, a first-ever proposal initiated by Iran in 1974. The international community must utilize every opportunity to compel Israel to promptly accede to the NPT as a nonnuclear- weapon party without any precondition and place all of its nuclear facilities under the IAEA full-scope safeguards.”37
At past UNGAs from 1980 to 2017, a resolution titled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East” was adopted without a vote. However, the resolution in 2020, following the previous years, was taken to a vote: Israel and the United States were against it, and one country abstained.38
Concerning Northeast Asia and South Asia, while initiatives for establishing NWFZs have been proposed by nongovernmental groups in the respective regions, there are few indications that states parties in these regions are taking any serious initiative toward such a goal. One exception is Mongolia, which in its report submitted to the 2015 NPT Review Conference (RevCon) expressed a willingness to “[p]lay an active role in promoting the idea of establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in north-east Asia.”39


1 This chapter is authored by Hirofumi Tosaki.
2 No international body is explicitly mandated with a responsibility for assessing compliance with these articles, apart from the IAEA’s safeguards verification mandate.
3 The U.S. Department of State, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” June 2020, p. 31.

4 S/RES/1718, October 14, 2006. The UN Security Council Resolution 1874 in June 2009 also demanded that North Korea “immediately comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1718 (2006).”
5 “Report on 5th Plenary Meeting of 7th C.C., WPK,” KCNA, January 1, 2020,

6 Ibid.
7 Stephanie Nebehay, “North Korea Abandoned Nuclear Freeze Pledge, Blames ‘Brutal’ U.S. Sanctions,” Reuters, January 21, 2020,
8 “Press Statement by Kim Yo Jong, First Vice Department Director of Central Committee of Workers’ Party of Korea,” KCNA, July 10, 2020,
9 “Statement by North Korea,” First Committee, UNGA, October 9, 2020.
10 Kylie Atwood and Vivian Salama, “Trump Tells Advisers He Doesn’t Want Another Summit with North Korea’s Kim before the Election,” CNN, February 10, 2020, https://edition.cnn. com/2020/02/10/politics/trump-north-korea-thaw/index.html.

11 Iran justifies its series of suspending the implementation of obligations by arguing that it is acting in accordance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.
12 Kelsey Davenport and Julia Masterson, “Iran Announces New Nuclear Deal Breach | P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert,” Arms Control Now, January 9, 2020, 09/p4-1-iran-nuclear-deal-alert.
13 Conor Finnegan “Trump Calls for New Nuclear Deal While Bashing Old One with Misinformation,” ABC News, January 9, 2020, nuclear-deal-bashingmisinformation/story?id=68148374.
14 “Statement from the heads of state and government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom,” January 12, 2020,
15 Parties to the JCPOA may bring serious violations to the Joint Commission in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in the agreement. If the Joint Commission is unable to reach a resolution, the case will be discussed by the Advisory Committee and then by the UN Security Council, which may eventually reimpose UN sanctions against Iran.

16 Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Iran Says It Will Quit Global Nuclear Treaty If Case Goes to U.N.,” Reuters, January 20, 2020,
17 “Iran Lawmakers Call for Debate on Quitting Nuclear Arms Treaty,” Reuters, January 28, 2020,
18 “Europe to Avoid Taking Iran Nuclear Dispute to U.N., EU’s Top Diplomat Says,” Reuters, February 4, 2020,
19 “On-the-Record Briefing with Special Representative for Iran And Senior Advisor to the Secretary Brian Hook,” U.S. Department of State, January 30, 2020, representative-for-iran-and-senior-advisor-to-the-secretary-brian-hook/.
20 The UNSCR 2231 stipulates that the arms embargo continues for five years while the UN sanctions against Iran are lifted.

21 Kelsey Davenport, “Nations Rebuff U.S. on Iran,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 50, No. 8 (September 2020),pp. 24-26.
22 Michelle Nichols, “U.N. Security Council President Dismisses U.S. Sanctions Move on Iran,” Reuters, August 26, 2020, president-dism isses-u-s-sanctions-move-on-iran-idUSKBN25L23T.
23 Michael R. Pompeo, “The Return of UN Sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Press Statement, U.S. Department of State, September 19, 2020,

24 “Iran Building New Production Hall for Centrifuges in Mountains near Natanz,” Reuters, September 8, 2020,
ntrifuges-in-mountains-near-natanz-idUSKBN25Z239; Kelsey Davenport and Julia Masterson, “UN Restriction on Iran’s Arms Trade Expire | The P4+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert,” Arms Control Association, October 28, 2020, dealalert# story1.
25 GOV/INF/2020/16, November 17, 2020.
26 Nobumasa Akiyama, “Iran’s New Legislation for Escalation and Options for the New US Administration,” JIIA Strategic Comment, 2020-17 (January 19, 2021), comment/2021/01/2020 17.html.
27 Golnaz Esfandiari, “Iran’s Government Delays Implementation of Law Ordering a Ramping Up of Nuclear Program,” Radio Free Europe, December 29, 2020, nuclear-program-rohani/31024741.html.
28 Francois Murphy, “Iran Tells IAEA It Will Accelerate Underground Uranium Enrichment,” Reuters, December 4, 2020, uranium-enrichment-idUSKBN28E1XM.
29 Jon Gambrell, “Iran Builds at Underground Nuclear Facility Amid US Tensions,” Associated Press, December 18, 2020, d9809b8a61f71f87 dff31da6ff784687.

30 GOV/2020/51, November 11, 2020.

31 See, for instance, NPT/CONF.2020/PC.III/WP.5, March 15, 2019.
32 “Saudi Minister Says Nuclear Armament against Iran ‘an Option,’” Aljazeera, November 17, 2020,
33 53/77D, December 4, 1998.
34 “Meeting of Commission for SEANWFZ Treaty Held,” Vietnam+, September 9, 2020,
35 A/CONF.236/DEC.5, September 21, 2020,
36 “Statement by Israel,” First Committee, UNGA, October 19, 2020.
37 “Statement by Iran,” First Committee, UNGA, October 14, 2020.
38 A/RES/75/33, December 7, 2020.

39 NPT/CONF.2015/8, February 25, 2015.


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