- 1963-1969 (Creation)
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The NPT was hailed as a landmark treaty, offering a solution to a complicated set of problems facing the world at the time. Prior to the NPT, more than 20 countries were actively seeking nuclear weapons. The NPT created a legal framework defining nuclear weapon possessor and non-possessor states, and providing the context for their cooperation on all three pillars.
The Treaty is founded on three pillars: non-proliferation; disarmament; and peaceful use of nuclear weapons. Many of the records focus on US-USSR negotiations on Articles I and II of the Treaty regarding stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, and talks about Article III, on safeguards.
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These files highlight NATO’s role and involvement in the drafting, negotiating and eventual signature of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Treaty was opened for signature on 1 July 1968, and came into force on 5 March 1970. NATO, as an organization, is not a formal party to the Treaty but all its member states are signatories.
NATO also was involved with the NPT to ensure that NATO’s existing nuclear sharing arrangements were fully compatible with Articles I and II of the Treaty.
The different volumes show NATO’s deep involvement in the Treaty, and their commitment at all levels to full implementation of the articles in the Treaty. Records show heads of state, ambassadors, and working-level officers discussing and reviewing key components of the Treaty and how the articles could impact individual Allies, European integration, global and regional safeguards, and NATO.
Some of the documents originate from the various delegations, especially the United States Mission to NATO. The US Mission kept Allies apprised on the progress of the negotiations bilaterally with the USSR, and Allies discussed negotiations in Geneva in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee, which included 4 Allies. The US maintained the principle of no consultations with the Soviets on the NPT without consultation with Allies.
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The file is a curated collection of material related to the NPT, and split by the archivists into three volumes: the Private Records, the Subject Files and the Related Materials. Within each volume, the documents are arranged chronologically. Most of the formal documents exist both in English and in French. The informal documents and national contributions exist in the language in which they were drafted.
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Conditions governing access
NATO publicly disclosed information is available for research and education purposes. Any commercial use requires the written permission of NATO. Please credit the NATO Archives should any documents be used for publication. Guidelines for the proper citation of NATO publicly disclosed information can be found on the NATO Archives website (https://www.nato.int/archives).
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More NATO documents from this period are also available in the NATO Archives Reading Room, located in NATO HQ in Brussels, Belgium. More information can be found on the NATO Archives website (https://www.nato.int/archives).