Transparency and Accountability: NPT reporting 2002–2007

Tasneem Jamal

Adam Parsons, Jessica West and Ernie Regehr

The Ploughshares Monitor Summer 2008 Volume 29 Issue 2

The full Ploughshares report on NPT reporting includes two extensive tables tabulating and summarizing reporting by both NNWS and NWS. It is available here.

“Permanence with accountability” was the central equation of the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference. The indefinite extension of the treaty was accompanied by a commitment to strengthen the review process, which focused on the Preparatory Committees (PrepCom) and Review Conferences (RevCon). The 2000 RevCon then elaborated on the accountability commitment through the provision of a specific reporting requirement. The Final Document included a list of 13 Practical Steps toward the implementation of the Treaty, among which was the Step 12 agreement to submit

Regular reports, within the framework of the strengthened review process for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, by all States parties on the implementation of article VI and paragraph 4(c) of the 1995 Decision on “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament,” and recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 8 July 1996. (NPT Review Conference 2000)

The framers of the reporting obligation understood reporting―as they understood the review process itself―to be a potential prod to the more effective pursuit of nuclear disarmament.

The following is a summary of a paper prepared by Project Ploughshares that reviews the frequency, format, and content of reporting to date and considers whether this experience offers guidance in the future elaboration and clarification of the Article VI reporting requirement.

States Parties to the NPT have now had five specific occasions to submit the “regular reports” that were agreed to in the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference. The statistics in Tables 1 and 2 indicate reporting trends to date:

Table 1: Reporting by Numbers 2002–2007

48 States have submitted at least one report
11 States reported in 2002
28 States reported in 2003 (20 for the first time)
29 States reported in 2004 (8 for the first time)
35 States reported in 2005 (9 for the first time)
9 States reported in 2007 (none for the first time)
5 States have submitted reports all five years
16 States have submitted only once

It is noteworthy that almost two-thirds of the 44 states in Annex 2 of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) reported at some point in the past seven years. For the most part, nuclear weapon states have chosen not to provide formal reports, in defiance of the promise made when they agreed to the 2000 reporting provision.

Table 2: Group Reporting Trends 2002–2007

6 New Agenda Coalition States reported:
Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden
(Egypt, also a member, has not reported).

12 Non-Aligned Movement States reported:
Cuba, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand
(NAM membership is 118 [NAM News Network 2008], 106 of which have not reported).

19 NATO States reported:
Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey
(of NATO’s 26 members, the following seven did not report: Denmark, Estonia, France, Iceland, Slovenia, UK, US).

18 European Union States reported:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
(the following EU states did not report: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Malta, Slovenia, UK).

30 CTBT Annex 2 States reported:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine
(of the 44 Annex 2 states, three—India, Israel, and Pakistan—are not signatories to the NPT, and 11 others that are parties to the NPT have not reported—Algeria, Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, France, UK, US, Vietnam).

2 Nuclear Weapon States formally reported:
Russia, China
(France, UK, US have not submitted formal reports).

Among the 112 reports that have been submitted by non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS), the following 16 issues receive the most explicit and repeated attention:

  • Support for the NPT and the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime
  • Strategic reductions
  • Tactical or non-strategic reductions
  • Irreversibility
  • The CTBT and a testing moratorium
  • Fissile material controls
  • Security assurances
  • Verification
  • The Conference on Disarmament
  • Nuclear energy
  • Export controls
  • Safeguards
  • Nuclear-weapon-free zones
  • International cooperation
  • Transparency
  • Reporting

The most referenced item within national reports has been support for ratification of the CTBT and reiterations of the need to uphold the testing moratorium.

Among nuclear weapon states (NWS), only China and Russia have submitted formal reports, each in 2005. Beyond that, NWS have not submitted reports that they specifically identify as being in response to the 2000 agreement on reporting. At the same time, all five NWS regularly report to NPT review process meetings and it must be said that such reporting, while it varies considerably, has increased in detail and scope since 2000. It comes in the form of national statements, working papers, fact sheets, and other background material, some of which is distributed informally at review process meetings. In assessing NWS reporting, the following eight categories are central to accountability under Article VI:

  • Warhead and launch vehicles holdings, both tactical and strategic
  • Operational status of weapons held
  • Progress on strategic reductions
  • Progress on non-strategic reductions
  • Affirmation of Article VI
  • Strategic doctrine
  • Security assurances
  • Fissile material control

Generally the documents provided by NWS range from the reasonably detailed — particularly in the case of the UK, which has provided numbers of nuclear weapons in its stockpile, their operational status, details about disarmament and verification programs, fissile material stocks, and other policy commitments — to the generally opaque, as in the case of some of China’s statements and documents, which have provided virtually no quantitative detail at all. Without a standardized format or more detailed reporting guidelines, NWS reporting will likely remain mixed.

Though reporting is in its infancy in the sense that only a minority of NPT states report and the level of detail varies, it can still be said that formal reports submitted in response to the 2000 reporting agreement have already begun to demonstrate their value. Formal reports by NNWS tend to be more descriptive than national statements, and they generally contain more detail about specific initiatives undertaken to pursue the goals of Article VI than do other statements. NWS reporting remains largely informal and some of it has the character of promotional material designed to build the political case for the NWS commitment to disarmament. Nonetheless, each report is the account of a State Party’s disarmament commitments and activities. These reports are not offered in a vacuum but are subject to at least an informal level of verification, inasmuch as it is possible in most cases to check a State Party’s reporting against independent sources. That is particularly the case for NWS reporting.

The following are recommendations relating to the objective, frequency, structure, and scope of NPT reporting in light of the experience to date:

  • To become a formal tool for accountability, reporting must become more detailed, systematic, and universal.
  • States Parties should report at all substantive meetings of the NPT.
  • Generic categories of reporting that have emerged should form the basis of more uniform reporting formats.
  • States Parties should report on all elements of the Treaty, as all are relevant to implementation of Article VI

The degree to which the mechanism of reporting is accepted by States Parties will reflect the degree to which the principle of mutual accountability is accepted. A decline in attention to reporting is reflected in the fact that 2007 was the first year since the 2000 agreement on reporting in which no state submitted a report for the first time. Indeed, 2007 saw the lowest level of reporting since the obligation to report was undertaken. This should be taken as a worrying sign about the level of commitment to transparency and accountability.



Non-Aligned Movement News Network. 2008.

2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. 2000. Review of the operation of the Treaty, taking into account the decisions and the resolution adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference Improving the effectiveness of the strengthened review process for the Treaty, Final Document (Volume I, Part I), NPT/CONF.2000/28 (Parts I and II).

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