During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "work with our allies and other countries to achieve a successful outcome" for a scheduled 2010 review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
First, some background on the treaty and the conference.
In the United Nations' words, the treaty "was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy." Specifically, each nuclear-armed party to the treaty pledges not to share nuclear weapons or nuclear technology with anyone else. At the same time, each non-nuclear-weapon state pledges not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. The treaty enforces this through International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.
The treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires member nations to hold a review conference every five years. The next one is scheduled for 2010.
The most notable move that the Obama administration has made in regard to the 2010 conference came in September 2009, when it led the successful effort to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1887. The resolution underscores that the Non-Proliferation Treaty "remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime" and calls upon parties to the treaty to "contribute in a constructive and balanced way to the 2010 Review Conference."
Other elements that could contribute to a successful review conference remain to be completed, said Leonor Tomero, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Council for a Livable World. These include the results of a nuclear posture review by the Defense Department scheduled for early 2010; negotiations with Russia to produce a new Strategic Arms Reduction (or START) Treaty; and progress on winning Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by the United States but rejected by the Senate a decade ago (
see Promise 198
Clearly, much remains to be done before the review conference, but the administration has been working on these issues. We rate this promise In the Works.