Statement on the 15th Anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

July 1, 1983

Fifteen years ago today, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and 58 other nations signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). This treaty, now with 119 parties, has the widest adherence of any arms control treaty in history. Both NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, nuclear-weapon states and nonnuclear-weapon states, developed and developing countries, and countries from every region of the globe have committed themselves to the NPT and its objectives.

Nuclear-weapon states party to this treaty have agreed not to assist nonnuclear-weapon states to acquire nuclear explosives, and nonnuclear-weapon states have pledged not to acquire nuclear explosives. These mutual pledges recognize that the further spread of nuclear weapons threatens all nations.

The NPT also calls for parties to assist in the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, especially in nonnuclear-weapon states which are parties to the treaty. The peaceful uses of nuclear energy are important to the well-being of many other peoples, and the United States takes its obligations for cooperation in this area seriously. We have long been in the forefront of those providing technical assistance and other cooperation in the nuclear field, and we are committed to continuing such cooperation under adequate safeguards.

The United States also recognizes its obligation under the NPT to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament. This is an issue of major concern to all countries. I am personally committed to take whatever steps are necessary to increase the likelihood of real, substantive progress towards an agreement involving significant reductions in U.S. and Soviet strategic nuclear arsenals to equal more stable levels and that would be in the national security interests of both sides. The United States will also spare no effort to negotiate an equitable and verifiable agreement on intermediate-range nuclear forces that would reduce the risk of war in Europe and globally.

The United States played a major role in the negotiation of the NPT, and five U.S. Presidents over its lifetime have strongly supported the treaty as a cornerstone of the international effort to prevent the spread of nuclear explosives to additional countries. As we plan for the important NPT Review Conference in 1985, the United States will continue to strive to strengthen the viability of this treaty. I urge all countries that have not yet done so to join the growing consensus against the spread of nuclear explosives by adhering to the NPT.

In July 1981 I outlined a policy to prevent the proliferation of nuclear explosives, and declared that this issue was critical to future international peace and regional and global stability. But if we are to succeed in halting the spread of nuclear weapons, the nations of the world must work together. As I have announced on previous occasions, one key step would be for nuclear suppliers to agree on requiring comprehensive safeguards as a condition for any significant new nuclear supply commitment. This is not a policy that denies nuclear assistance, but rather one that conditions assistance on a reasonable demonstration that a nonnuclear-weapon state's entire program is dedicated to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This demonstration has already been made by the 116 nonnuclear-weapon states that are parties to the NPT. It is my hope that agreement can be reached soon on this measure to strengthen the international nonproliferation regime.

On this the 15th anniversary of the opening of the NPT for signature, all states should rededicate themselves to achieving the purposes of this important treaty and to ensuring its continued vitality. That is both our shared responsibility and a contribution to peace for future generations.