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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Hiroshima Report 2023Chapter 2 Nuclear Non-Proliferation1 (1) Acceptance and Compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Obligations

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 states parties (including North Korea, the Holy See and Palestine). Among the current 193 United Nations (UN) Member States, those remaining outside the NPT are: India and Pakistan, both of which tested and declared they had 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. In August 2022, North Korea’s Permanent Mission to UN stated, “A long time ago, the DPRK pulled out of the NPT through the legitimate procedure under the relevant article stipulated in the NPT. Accordingly, nobody has the right or justification to accuse the DPRK, a nuclear possessing state outside the NPT, of its exercise of the right to self-defense.”2 There is no agreement among the states parties on North Korea’s official NPT status.


B) Compliance with Articles I and II of the NPT and the UNSCRs on non-proliferation

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.3 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 non- compliance with Article II. The U.S. Department of State declared 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 2003.4

UNSCR 1718, 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.5

The UN Security Council also decided that North Korea “shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching.”6

North Korea has defiantly failed to respond to the UN Security Council’s decisions, and has continued activities related to nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un said on September 8, 2022, “With [the legalization of the policies of  the nuclear forces], the position of our state as a nuclear nation has become irreversible.” He also strongly suggested a refusal to denuclearize through negotiations with the United States and other countries, stating, “We have drawn the line of no retreat regarding our nuclear weapons so that there will be no longer any bargaining over them. Herein lies the great importance of the legalization of the policy of the nuclear forces.”7

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee in October, North Korea made no mention of denuclearization. It denounced the United States and stated, “For stability on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. must unconditionally root out the military threat against the DPRK including by stopping the arms build-up and joint military exercises with south Korea mobilizing the U.S. nuclear assets and dissolving the ‘UN Command’ in south Korea.”8

Japan, South Korea and the United States strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, and “underscore[d] continued openness to meeting with the DPRK without preconditions.”9 In August 2022, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May 2022, proposed an “audacious initiative” to provide political, economic, military, food, agricultural, medical and infrastructure assistance to North Korea, if Pyongyang suspended its nuclear weapons program.10 In addition, deputy national security director Kim Tae-hyo said that if Pyongyang commits to a “road map” of nuclear disarmament and complies with freezing, declaring, verifying and dismantling, Seoul will provide a financial reward at every stage of the process to terminate the nuclear weapons program.11

On the other hand, China and Russia responded in ways that suggested tolerance of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities. When the United States proposed strengthening sanctions at the UN Security Council in response to a series of North Korean missile tests in January 2022, China and Russia withheld their positions, saying that they were taking time to deliberate on the issue. The Security Council failed to issue a statement in response to North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in March, due to opposition by China and Russia.12 Furthermore, while the U.S. proposed adopting a Security Council resolution stipulating enhancement of sanctions in May, China and Russia opposed this, insisting on the need for dialogue and the easing of sanctions, and vetoed the draft resolution. This was the first time that a draft Security Council resolution on sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development was vetoed.

In response to the veto by permanent members China and Russia of a draft Security Council resolution to strengthen sanctions against North Korea, a UNGA meeting was held on June 8 to explain their voting behavior.13 At this meeting, China argued that dialogue with North Korea should be promoted because to fundamentally resolve the Korean Peninsula issue requires abandoning the old approach of imposing sanctions and exerting pressure.14 Russia said the new sanctions proposed by the United States would worsen the humanitarian situation in North Korea and criticized the U.S. proposal as irresponsible.15

When North Korea conducted an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch test in October, an American request for the Security Council to issue a press statement was not agreed. China’s deputy UN Ambassador Geng Shuang said the Security Council should not rely on “strong rhetoric or pressure” against Pyongyang, and should address its “reasonable concerns.” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva said Pyongyang’s missile launches are the consequence of “short-sighted,” and “confrontational” military activities by the United States, and that introducing new sanctions on North Korea would bring “zero results.”16 In response to North Korea’s ICBM test in November, China and Russia opposed adoption of the Chairman’s Statement proposed by the United States and other countries.



Nuclear activities

The E3/EU+3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom/European Union plus China, Russia and the United States) and Iran agreed on 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 would ease or lift sanctions against Iran. However, the United States under then-President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, and to reimpose sanctions against Iran in May 2018. In response, from May 2019, Iran gradually suspended implementation of its obligations set out in the JCPOA, including limitations on the storage and enrichment level of enriched uranium as well as of the number of centrifuges for enriching uranium. In 2022, Iran further stepped up its level of violations (see Section 2 of this chapter regarding suspension of implementation of monitoring and verification measures, including IAEA safeguards).17

Centrifuges—The JCPOA limited Iran to enriching uranium using only 5,020 first generation (IR-1) centrifuges and only at the Natanz main fuel enrichment plant (FEP). Since September 2019 it has steadily breached these limits. Iran began installing IR-6 centrifuges, which are believed to have 10 times the enrichment capacity of IR-1, at Natanz in June 2022. In defiant response to a resolution in June by the IAEA Board of Governors expressing concern over the detection of uranium particles from undeclared Iranian facilities, Iran also began using IR-6 at its underground Fordo fuel enrichment plant (FFEP). In August, Iran announced that it had started operating the IR-6 and installed nearly 1,570 new advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility.18 In addition, the IAEA reported on October 10 that: Iran informed the Agency that it intended to install an additional three cascades of IR-2m centrifuges at FEP; and Iran had fully installed one IR-4 cascade and six IR-2m cascades after the IAEA report on September 7.19

The IAEA periodical report in November 2022 reported on the centrifuge installation as follows:20

➢FEP: in addition to the 30 cascades of IR-1 centrifuges provided for under the JCPOA, Iran has informed the Agency that it intends to install another 30 cascades (IR-1, IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6)

➢Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP): two interconnected cascades, comprising up to 164 IR-4 and up to 164 IR-6 centrifuges, respectively, to produce UF6 enriched up to 60% U-235; the cascades of IR-5 and IR-6s centrifuges to produce UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235; IR-2m, IR-4, IR-5 and IR-6 for produce UF6 enriched up to 2%; and IR-6s, IR-7, IR-8, IR-8B and IR-9 for testing

➢FFEP: six cascades containing up to 1044 IR-1; and one cascade of 166 IR-6 centrifuges

Since the previous IAEA report in September 2022, Iran had strikingly increased the quantity of advanced centrifuges installed at the FEP. Iran added roughly 1,740 new advanced centrifuges, consisting mostly of IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuges, making the installed capacity over 50 percent larger than it had been in August.

Facilities for manufacturing centrifuge—In January 2022, Iran informed the IAEA that it would stop producing centrifuge components at its manufacturing workshop in Karaj, which Tehran claimed had been sabotaged several times, and  would produce them in Esfahan instead.21 However, three months later the IAEA reported that Iran said “it had moved all of the machines for the production of centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows from the centrifuge component production workshop at the TESA Karaj complex …and placed them in a location at the Natanz site” on April 6, and the machines started operating at the new workshop on April 13.”22

Enriched uranium—The IAEA estimated Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile as of October 22, 2022 to be 3,673.7 kg, of which total enriched uranium stockpile in the form of UF6 is 3,323.1 kg (1,844.5 kg of uranium enriched up to 2% U-235; 1,029.9 kg of uranium enriched up to 5% U-235; 386.4 kg of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235; and 62.3 kg of uranium enriched up to 60% U-235).23 Iran has steadily increased its enriched uranium up to 20% and up to 60%. The level of 20% and above is considered to be highly enriched uranium (HEU), which could theoretically be used in a nuclear weapon. As a practical matter, however, 60% HEU is considered to be weapons usable while >90% is considered weapons grade. The IAEA report in November 2022 also reported that Iran had not produced any uranium metal for nearly a year.

On November 22, Iran started producing enriched uranium up to 60% using the IR-6 centrifuges in the FFEP. In addition, Iran informed the IAEA that it planned a significant expansion of low enriched uranium production—UF6 enriched up to 5% or up to 20%–at Fordow as well as construction of a new enrichment facility in Natanz.24

Iran has repeatedly claimed that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes. With regard to 60% enriched uranium, Iran irradiated part of its stockpile to produce medical isotopes (molybdenum targets) in March.25 It is estimated to have produced more 60% enriched uranium than needed for this purpose.

Other activities—According to the IAEA report in November, Iran neither pursued the construction of the Arak heavy water research reactor (IR-40 Reactor) nor carried out activities related to reprocessing at the facilities which it has declared to the IAEA. Meanwhile, Iran has not informed the IAEA about the inventory of heavy water in Iran or the production of heavy water at the Heavy Water Production Plant (HWPP), nor allowed the Agency to monitor the quantities of Iran’s heavy water stocks and the amount of heavy water produced at the HWPP.26

Breakout time—The uranium enrichment limits in the JCPOA were formulated to ensure that Iran’s breakout time (the time required to produce weapons-grade fissile material for one nuclear weapon) would be no less than 12 months. Iran’s increase in its stockpile of enriched uranium, including HEU, has dramatically reduced the breakout period to less than one week.27 Based on the IAEA November 2022 report, some US experts contend that the breakout time is even shorter, arguing (with no official confirmation) that:

Iran’s breakout timeline remains at zero [if nuclear weapons can be produced by using 60 percent HEU with an enrichment of 60% can be used to produce nuclear weapons]. It has significantly more than enough 60 percent enriched uranium or HEU to be assured it could directly fashion a nuclear explosive. If Iran wanted to further enrich its 60 percent HEU up to weapon-grade, it could do so within weeks utilizing only a few of its advanced centrifuge cascades. … Iran is estimated to be able to accumulate, in one month, enough weapon-grade uranium for four nuclear weapons from these two enriched uranium feed stocks.

A few weeks later, about 1.7 months after starting breakout, Iran could accumulate enough additional weapons-grade uranium from its feedstock of less than five and above two percent (taken as 4.5 percent) enriched uranium for a fifth quantity of weapon-grade uranium. Iran could produce enough [weapon-grade uranium] for a sixth nuclear weapon by the end of the third month.28


Efforts to restore the JCPOA

Indirect negotiations aimed at restoring the JCPOA have failed to reach an agreement. Althrough progress was reported from time to time, each time new difficulties emerged.

At the end of January 2022, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, “If we get to a stage where reaching a good deal with strong guarantees necessitates direct talks with the U.S., we will consider it.”29 A U.S. State Department official also indicated that indirect negotiations were in their final stages and that both sides were at a point where they had to make difficult political decisions.30 In addition, on February 4, the United States announced the restoration of a sanctions waiver to Iran to allow international nuclear cooperation projects. These waivers had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out non-proliferation work to effectively make it harder for Iranian nuclear sites to be used for weapons development.31

In the indirect negotiation that resumed in Vienna on February 8, it was reported that by mid-February, both the United States and Iran were finalizing a draft that stipulated a sequence of steps by which Iran would once again implement its obligations in conjunction with the lifting of sanctions by the United States. In the first step, the draft agreement reportedly called for suspending Iran’s uranium enrichment above 5%, unfreezing about $7 billion in Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks under U.S. sanctions, and releasing U.S. and European prisoners held in Iran. Once these initial measures were taken and confirmed, the United States would start the process of lifting sanctions, such as reinstating exemptions from economic sanctions on Iran’s oil sectors. Iran was also expected to return to implementing its obligations on the main restrictions on its nuclear programs under the JCPOA, including the 3.67% uranium enrichment limit.32 However, it was unclear how Iran’s request for “assurance that the United States would never again withdraw from the agreement” would be handled.

Negotiations again ran into difficulties after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. On February 28, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman identified the remaining outstanding issues as: the extent to which sanctions would be rolled back, providing guarantees that the United States would not quit the agreement again, and resolving questions over uranium traces found at several old but undeclared sites in Iran. He said that efforts to revive a nuclear deal could succeed if the United States took a political decision to meet Iran’s demands mentioned above. He also insisted that a U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) should be removed.33

On March 4, Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy indicated that the United States and Iran would reach an agreement soon.34 However, the following day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We have asked for a written guarantee … that the current process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”35 However, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said, “The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its potential implementation.”36

France, Germany and the United Kingdom stated in their joint statement on March 8, “We call on all sides to make the decisions necessary to close this deal now, and on Russia not to add extraneous conditions to its conclusion.” In addition, they urged Iran to: immediately cease all activity related to conversion of HEU; cease the production of HEU and any enrichment above JCPOA limits; prepare to dispose of its stockpile of enriched uranium in excess of JCPOA limits; return enrichment capacities and R&D to agreed limits; stop all activities related to the production of uranium metal; and restore full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA.37 On March 15, the Russian Foreign Minister stated, “We have received written guarantees – they are included in the very text of the agreement on reviving the JCPOA,”38 which was expected to bring the agreement much closer.

Shortly afterwards, however, Iran’s demand that the United States remove the terrorism designation of the IRGC once again stalled efforts to reach an agreement.39 The United States argued that consideration of removing the terrorism designation was contingent on Iran’s commitment to easing tensions in the Middle East.40 And while indirect negotiations have been suspended since early March, President Joseph Biden reportedly finalized his decision to maintain the terrorism designation of the IRGC in late May.41 The U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley stated at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on May 25, “If Iran maintains demands that go beyond the scope of the JCPOA, we will continue to reject them, and there will be no deal. It is not our preference, but we are fully prepared to live with and confront that reality if that is Iran’s choice.”42

On August 8, the EU presented a “final draft text,” which the U.S. subsequently said it was ready to accept. Iran signaled that it would no longer insist on removal of the FTO designation, which sparked optimism that an agreement was at hand. However, Iran tabled three other demands. The first was for a guarantee that a future U.S. administration would not once again withdraw from the JCPOA. Western officials argued that the final draft text addressed this by stipulating that foreign companies would be allowed to continue their operations in Iran for two-and-a-half years without fear of being sanctioned, even if the renewed agreement fell apart. In addition, Iran would receive what were considered an “inherent guarantee” that would enable it to ramp up its uranium enrichment capacity fairly quickly, in part by being allowed to store some centrifuges and electronic equipment within the country under the seal of the IAEA, instead of destroying them.43

Iran’s other two demands concerned the IAEA’s investigation of undeclared nuclear materials. Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian asked for what he called IAEA’s “politically motivated demands” to be ended, and insisted that the Agency should not again open any new investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities.44 France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement on September 10 saying that “[t]his latest demand raise[d] serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPOA.” They also argued, “It is up to Iran to provide technically credible answers to the IAEA’s questions on the whereabouts of all nuclear material on its territory. The JCPOA can in no way be used to release Iran from legally binding obligations that are essential to the global non-proliferation regime.”45 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed disappointment, saying that Iran’s response to the indirect talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal was “a step back,” and that Iran seemed “unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement.”46

With the nuclear talks moribund, Western attention on Iran focused on other issues. The most compelling was Iran’s brutal crackdown on protests that followed the death of a 22-year-old woman on September 16 while in the custody of the “morality police” because she was wearing a hijab. A human rights monitoring group counted 512 deaths related to hijab protests in 161 cities by the end of 2022, including 69 children and 67 security personnel.47 A second issue was Iran’s supply of drones to Russia for use in attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and other civilian facilities. Iran’s claim that the drones were supplied before Russia’s invasion was not backed up by evidence that Ukraine gathered from downed drones. Iran’s detention of two dozen foreign dual-nationals on spurious charges was another source of concern for Western governments, which became increasingly inclined to apply further sanctions on Iran, rather than lifting them. On October 18, the U.S. special envoy for Iran expressed support for the protesters, saying negotiations on reviving the agreement are “not even on the agenda.”48

Nevertheless, EU negotiators did not give up seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear impasse. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell wrote on December 23 that “with regard to nuclear non-proliferation in Iran, there is no alternative to the accord. Those who think otherwise simply fool themselves.”49 Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in late December that Iran was “ready to conclude” the talks, but his meeting with Borrell in Baghdad on December 20 produced no progress.50

In another development, an unconfirmed press report in November attributed to US intelligence officials said that Iran has been seeking assistance from Russia in providing nuclear materials and producing nuclear fuel, in case negotiations to revive the nuclear deal break down.51


Withdrawal from the NPT

Although Article X-1 of the NPT contains some guidance about 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, Japan, South Korea and several other Western countries have proposed stricter requirements for withdrawal from the treaty. At the NPT Review Conference (RevCon) in 2022, the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) argued for the need to, “[r]eaffirm that the procedures in article X must be fully and strictly followed by any State party that makes the decision to withdraw from the Treaty. The Treaty provides for the requirements to exercise the right of withdrawal, which means that any notice of withdrawal without completing these requirements is not valid.” It proposed the following requirements for withdrawal:52

➢Note that, under article 70 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties, States parties exercising their rights under article X of the Treaty will remain responsible under international law for violations of the Treaty committed prior to withdrawal; 

➢Emphasize that withdrawal does not change any other existing legal obligations or political commitments between the withdrawing State and any other party, including the obligations that apply to nuclear materials, equipment and scientific and technological information acquired by a State prior to withdrawal, which should remain under safeguards following withdrawal from the Treaty; 

➢Encourage States parties to require as a condition of nuclear exports that the recipient State agree that, in the event that it should terminate, withdraw from, or be found by the IAEA Board of Governors to be in non-compliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement,  the supplier State would have a right to require the return of nuclear material and equipment provided prior to such termination, non-compliance or withdrawal, as well as any special nuclear material produced through the use of such material or equipment;

➢Recommend that depositories and States parties should undertake consultations and conduct every diplomatic effort to persuade the withdrawing State to reconsider its decision to withdraw; and

➢Underline that the Security Council will be primarily responsible for determining whether withdrawal from the Treaty constitutes a threat to international peace and security under the Charter and, as provided for in Council resolution 1887 (2009), undertakes to address all cases of withdrawal from the Treaty without delay.

The Vienna Group of Ten also made a proposal similar to the NPDI.53

On the other hand, the Chinese and Russian positions on this issue seem more cautious than the above-mentioned countries. Furthermore, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries along with Brazil have been critical of the tightening of withdrawal requirements, arguing that withdrawal is a right of the states parties.

The draft final document stated the following as compiling the arguments of both sides mentioned above:

The Conference reaffirms the rights of States parties to withdraw from the Treaty and notes that these rights should not be limited, restricted or undermined. The Conference further notes the relevance of international law in connection with the withdrawal of States from treaties, under which States parties will remain responsible for any violation of the Treaty committed prior to withdrawal. The Conference emphasizes that withdrawal does not change any other existing legal obligations or political commitments between the withdrawing State and any other State party, including the obligations that apply to nuclear materials, equipment and scientific and technological information acquired by a State prior to withdrawal, which should remain under safeguards.


Alleged interest in acquiring nuclear weapons

Since the mid-2010s, there have been repeated statements from Saudi Arabia suggesting an interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. Although no such statements emerged in 2022, some parties remained concerned about a lack of full transparency concerning Saudi Arabia’s nuclear activities. Toward the end of 2021, U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly assessed that Saudi Arabia was actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with Chinese assistance.54

Regarding Iran, the U.S. intelligence community maintains its assessment as follows: “The United States continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities it judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”55 Its capability to do so, however, was clear. For example, Kamal Kharrazi, former Foreign Minister and a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium. … Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one.”56



In his speech announcing the decision to launch a “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky administration was “seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,” and one of the justifications for the operation was to prevent Ukraine from acquiring nuclear weapons.57 Foreign Minister Lavrov also stated at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on March 1, “Ukraine still has Soviet nuclear technologies and the means of delivery of such weapons. We cannot fail to respond to this real danger.”58 In response, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi stated the following day that Ukraine’s nuclear activities are under IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocols.59 However, Russia repeatedly spread disinformation that Ukraine was developing or possessing not only nuclear weapons but also biological, chemical, and radioactive “dirty bombs.”60

On March 3, the IAEA adopted a resolution on safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine’s nuclear activities, stating, the IAEA “[e]xpresses further grave concern that the Russian Federation’s aggression is impeding the Agency from fully and safely conducting safeguards verification activities at Ukrainian nuclear facilities within its internationally recognised borders, in accordance with the [NPT], Ukraine’s safeguards agreement and the Statute.”61 Of the 35 IAEA Board of Governors members, 26 countries, including Japan and Western countries, voted in favor of the draft resolution, with China and Russia opposed (and five countries abstaining, including Pakistan, India and South Africa). Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA in Vienna, criticized the IAEA resolution, saying that it was politicized, that it contained deliberate lies and errors motivated by politics, and that it would undermine confidence in the IAEA.62

In October, Russian senior government officials, including President Putin, once again repeatedly spread propaganda that Ukraine would manufacture and use “dirty bombs.”63 Ukraine denied this as Russian disinformation and aksed the IAEA to dispatch inspectors to the two facilities that Russia had named as development sites. On November 3, the IAEA inspected three Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The IAEA stated, “Based on the evaluation of the results available to date and the information provided by Ukraine, the Agency did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations.”64


C) Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

Treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free 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.65

China, which repeatedly and harshly criticized Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines under AUKUS— the security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States—at the NPT RevCon, also said in the context of a NWFZ that it would jeopardize efforts to establish the Southeast Asian NWFZ and undermine the South Pacific NFZ. Australia responded by saying that there is nothing in the NPT or in the Treaty of Rarotonga to prohibit naval nuclear propulsion and that it will ensure its actions are consistent with all its Treaty commitments.66

With regard to the Middle East, at the 2022 NPT RevCon, in contrast with past conferences, the Middle Eastern issues were not those that would determine the success or failure of the conference. Meanwhile, the NPT states parties, including those in the Middle East, urged Israel and the United States to participate in “the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Region Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction” (hereafter the “Middle East Conference”).

The third Middle East Conference was held on November 14-18, 2022, in which 21 regional countries and four observers (China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom) participated. As was the case with the previous conferences, Israel and the United States did not participate. During the thematic debate, participating countries exchanged views on core obligations, issues identified in paragraph 51 of the report of the second session of the Conference, and the glossary of terminologies and other related issues.67

Israel criticized the Middle East Conference at the UNGA First Committee of the UN General, stating:

Ill motivated initiatives, such as the UN Conference on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, go against the guidelines and established principles of any Nuclear Weapons Free Zones and are unhelpful. Israel will not participate in artificial processes that bypass established practices. 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.68

At past UNGAs from 1980 through 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 2022, as in the previous years, was taken to a vote: 175 countries were in favor, Israel was against it, and the United States (which had been against in 2020) and Singapore abstained.69
Concerning Northeast Asia and South Asia, while initiatives for establishing NWFZs have been proposed by non-governmental groups in the respective regions, there are few signs that states parties in these regions are taking any serious initiative toward this goal. One exception is Mongolia, which in its report submitted to the NPT 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.”70



1 This chapter is authored by Hirofumi Tosaki.
2 “Press Statement of DPRK Permanent Mission to UN,” KCNA, August 4, 2022, http://www.kcna.
3 No international body is explicitly mandated with a responsibility for assessing compliance with these articles, apart from the IAEA’s safeguards verification mandate.
4 The U.S. Department of State, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” April 2022, pp. 15-16.

5 S/RES/1718, October 14, 2006. The UNSCR 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).” Since this resolution also states to “[take] measures under its Article 41,” any measures involving the use of armed forces cannot be taken on the basis of this resolution.
6 Ibid.

7 “Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un Makes Policy Speech at Seventh Session of the 14th SPA of DPRK,” KCNA, September 10, 2022,
8 “Statement by North Korea,” General Debate, First Committee, UNGA, October 11, 2022.
9 “Joint Statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Republic of Korea Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin,” May 28, 2022, https://www.

10 Mitch Shin, “South Korea’s President Offers ‘Audacious Initiative’ for North Korea’s Denuclearization,” Diplomat, August 15, 2022,
11 “Seoul Offers North Korea Economic Aid for Nuclear Disarmament,” Nation World News, August 15, 2022,

12 On the other hand, 11 countries—including seven members of the UN Security Council (France, the United Kingdom, the United States and others) as well as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand—issued a joint statement, in which they urged China and Russia to change their policies, and argued as following: “Each ballistic missile launch that results in inaction by the Council erodes the credibility of the UN Security Council itself in addressing the DPRK and undermines the global non-proliferation regime.” “Joint Statement on the March 5 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Ballistic Missile Launch,” March 7, 2022,
13 While a UNSCR on Ukraine was rejected by a Russian veto, which was argued the dysfunction of the Security Council, a resolution was adopted by the UNGA on April 26, 2022, calling for the permanent members of the Security Council which exercise their veto to explain the reasons to the UNGA.
14 “Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN General Assembly Debate on the Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue,” June 8, 2022, 665378/202206/t20220609_10700480.html. On June 2, Zhao Lijian, deputy director of Foreign Ministry Information Department, implied that Beijing would not support new sanctions even if North Korea tested a nuclear weapon. Chaewon Chung, “China signals it won’t support new sanctions if North Korea tests nuclear weapon,” NK News, June 2, 2022,

15 “General Assembly Holds Landmark Debate on Security Council’s Veto of Draft Text Aimed at Tightening Sanctions against Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” UN Meeting Coverage, June 8, 2022,
16 Jo He-rim, “UNSC fails to reach consensus on NK provocations with China, Russia backing NK,” Korea Herald, October 6, 2022,

17 Iran justifies that its suspension of obligations was in accordance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also stated, “Iran has significantly increased its nuclear capabilities since May 2019—but it has done so in full conformity with paragraph 36 of the nuclear agreement, which allows Iran to “cease performing its commitments” under the deal should another signatory stop performing its own. If the new U.S. administration hopes to alter the current trajectory, it needs to promptly change course.” Mohammad Javad Zarif, “Iran Wants the Nuclear Deal It Made: Don’t Ask Tehran to Meet New Demands,” Foreign Affairs, January 22, 2021, articles/iran/2021-01-22/iran-wants-nuclear-deal-it-made.

18 David Albright, Sarah Burkhard and Spencer Faragasso, “Iran’s Latest Advanced Centrifuge Deployment,” International Science and international Security, August 4, 2022,
19 GOV/INF/2022/23, October 10, 2022.

20 GOV/2022/62, November 10, 2022.

21 Francois Murphy, “Iran Moves Centrifuge-parts Production out of Disputed Workshop, IAEA Says,” Reuters, February 1, 2022,
22 GOV/INF/2022/11, April 14, 2022.
23 GOV/2022/62, November 10, 2022. Iran has shut down its online enrichment monitors and other equipment, and the IAEA has provided estimates because it is unable to determine its real-time enriched uranium holdings.

24 Francois Murphy, “Iran Enriching to up to 60% at Fordow, Plans Massive Expansion, IAEA Says,” Reuters, November 23, 2022,
25 Jonathan Tirone, “Iran Eliminates Some Weapons Potential in Uranium Stockpile,” Bloomberg, March 17, 2022,

26 GOV/2022/62, November 10, 2022.
27 Kelsey Davenport, “Iran in 2022: Cusp of Nuclear Threshold,” The Iran Primer, US Institute of Peace, December 21, 2022,

28 Albright,, “Analysis of IAEA Iran Verification and Monitoring Report – November 2022.”
29 Parisa Hafezi and John Irish, “No Decision Yet on Direct Talks with U.S. — Iran Foreign Minister,” Reuters, January 25, 2022,
30 “Time for Political Decisions as Iran Talks Enter ‘Final Stretch’ -U.S. Official,” Reuters, February 1, 2022, (in Japanese)

31 Humeyra Pamuk, “U.S. Restores Sanctions Waiver to Iran with Nuclear Talks in Final Phase,” Reuters, February 4, 2022,
32 “Iran Nuclear Agreement, Talks on Draft of Phased Restructuring,” Reuters, February 18 2022, https:// (in Japanese)

33 Parisa Hafezi and John Irish, “Iran Says Key Issues Still Unresolved in Nuclear Talks,” Reuters, March 1, 2022, a-nuclear-talks-2022-02-28/.
34 “Iran Nuclear Deal Reconciliation Talks: Agreement Could Be Reached This Weekend—EU High Representative Borrell,” Reuters, March 5, 2022, 2L12HP. (in Japanese)

35 Stephanie Liechtenstein, “Russia Obstructs Iran Nuclear Deal as the Kremlin Frets over its Oil Income,” Politico, March 5, 2022,
36 Ibid.
37 “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: E3 statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, March 2022,” March 8, 2022,
38 Laura Rozen, “Euro Diplomat: Hope We Will Be Able to Conclude Iran Deal, after Russia Says Received Assurances,” March 16, 2022,

39 Laurence Norman, “Iran Nuclear Deal’s Final Hurdle Is Lifting Terrorism Sanctions on Revolutionary Guards,” Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2022,
40 “Iran Nuclear Deal Negotiations: Early Conclusion in the Dark over Revolutionary Guards,” Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 29, 2022, C2000000/. (in Japanese)
41 Alexander Ward and Nahal Toosi, “Biden Made Final Decision to Keep Iran’s IRGC on Terrorist List,” Politico, May 24, 2022,

42 Jennifer Hansler, “US Envoy for Iran Says Prospects for a Return to Nuclear Deal Are ‘Tenuous at Best’,” CNN, May 25, 2022, index. html.
43 Stephanie Liechtenstein and Nahal Toosi, “U.S. Reacts to Iranian Comments on Draft Nuclear Deal,” Politico, August 24, 2022,

44 Parisa Hafezi, “Iran Seeks Stronger U.S. Guarantees for Revival of 2015 Nuclear Deal,” Reuters, September 1, 2022,
45 “Joint Statement by France, Germany and the United Kingdom,” September 10, 2022, https://www.
46 “Blinken Trying to Cover up US Weakness in Reviving JCPOA,” Islamic Republic News Agency, Sep 13, 2022,

47 Daily Update by Human Rights Activists News Agency, January 1, 2023, English/status/1609687669784584194?s=20&t=D-v2Y5enP_ryRYWqlKqvOA
48 Omri Nahmias, “US Iran Envoy on Reviving the Iran Deal: ‘Right Now It’s Not Even on the Agenda, Not The Focus,’” Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2022,

49 Josep Borrell, “Iraq – More Than a Linchpin, Can Actively Contribute to Regional Stability,” European Union External Action website, 23 December 2022, iraq-%E2%80%93-more-linchpin-can-actively-contribute-regional-stability_en.
50 See tweet by Abas Aslani, 20 December 2022, 26181376?s=20&t=P-w1jXTHk6ZUtdv0QtLASQ.
51 Natasha Bertrand, “Exclusive: Iran Is Seeking Russia’s Help to Bolster Its Nuclear Program, US Intel Officials Believe,” CNN, November 4, 2022,

52 NPT/CONF.2020/WP.58, June 3, 2022.
53 NPT/CONF.2020/WP.3/Rev.1, June 20, 2022.

54 Zachary Cohen, “US Intel and Satellite Images Show Saudi Arabia is Now Building Its Own Ballistic Missiles with Help of China,” CNN, December 23, 2021, politics/saudi-ballistic-missiles-china/index.html.
55 U.S. Department of State, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” April 2022, p. 18.
56 Parisa Hafezi, “Khamenei Adviser Says Tehran ‘Capable of Building Nuclear Bomb,’ Al Jazeera Reports,” Reuters, July 18, 2022,
57 “Address by the President of the Russian Federation,” February 24, 2022, president/news/67843.

58 Emma Farge, “Russia Says ‘Real Danger’ of Ukraine Acquiring Nuclear Weapons Required Response,” Reuters, March 1, 2022,
59 “IAEA Director General’s Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors,” March 2, 2022, https://
60 See, for instance, “Russia, without Evidence, Says Ukraine Making Nuclear ‘Dirty Bomb,’” Swissinfo, March 6, 2022,–without-evidence–says-ukraine-making-nuclear–dirty-bomb-/47406640.
61 GOV/2022/17, March 3, 2022.
62 “Political ally motivated lies: what consequences can the anti-Russian resolution of the IAEA Lead to,” March 5, 2022, Tellor Report,–what-consequences-can-the-anti-russian-resolution-of-the-iaea-lead-to.r1Zbq4clZ5.html.
63 “Moscow Warns Kiev Preparing to Detonate Dirty Bomb or Low-yield Nuclear Weapon on Its Own Territory,” Newsroom Odisha, October 23, 2022,
64 IAEA, “IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine,” November 3, 2022, https://www. 

65 A/RES/53/77D, December 4, 1998.
66 Allison Pytlak, “Main Committee II: Thematic Exchange,” NPT News in Review, Vol. 17, No. 5 (August 13, 2022), p. 32.
67 A/CONF.236/2022/3, November 21, 2022.

68 “Statement by Israel,” General Debate, UNGA First Committee, October 7, 2022.
69 A/RES/77/38, December 7, 2022.
70 NPT/CONF.2020/18, March 20, 2020.

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