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Sarah Price, Head of the government's Counter Proliferation and Arms Control Centre
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on Thursday 5 March 2020, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in partnership with the US State Department and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has released a compilation of historic documents from the 1960s recording the negotiations. These documents, which were released to the National Archives in the 1990s, demonstrate how despite Cold War tensions, states were united by the shared goal of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The UK remains as strongly committed to the NPT today as it was when it negotiated it 50 years ago.
Tom Plant, Director of its Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute said:
These documents represent an important resource for scholars of the NPT, shedding light on the position of the UK, its allies and its rivals during the negotiation of this critical treaty. Their publication also serves a political purpose, and sends a political message. The UK has been lauded – rightly, in our judgement – for its efforts to work with others, from governments and non-governmental organisations alike, to improve its transparency and reporting to the Treaty’s Review Conference, and to energise the ‘P5 Process’ on nuclear disarmament. This publication should be seen in part in that light. But it also speaks to contemporary discourse on the equality or otherwise of the three pillars of the NPT – non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear technology – a subject on which each of the co-depositories of the Treaty, who have collaborated on this release of documents, perhaps share more views than they might on other matters, valuing and prioritising as they do the first of these pillars. This historical record helps to bear that out as the original negotiated intent of the NPT, at least from the perspective of the UK, and will not doubt be cited in discussions and disagreements over whether more recent commitments on disarmament issues, made as part of the Treaty’s Review Process, should carry the same weight.
By hosting this collection, brought together by Dr John Walker, Head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Research Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we at RUSI hope to promote wider understanding of this issue by scholars, practitioners and other interested parties. In coming weeks these documents will be integrated into the RUSI Digital Collections, which will launch in early summer. This open-access resource, curated by RUSI’s Librarian, Jacqui Grainger, will bring together a large amount of RUSI’s extensive archival material, including institutional, military and Imperial history, photographs and art, in a readily-accessible form for researchers and the wider public alike. We are proud to be able to incorporate these important government records in this Collection.
Download the documents
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.