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UN Chief Marks 50 Years Since NPT Signing

FILE - U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York, Sept. 13, 2017.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday hailed the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Marking the date, Guterres in a statement said, “The NPT is an essential pillar of international peace and security, and the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its unique status is based on its near universal membership, legally-binding obligations on disarmament, verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, and commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

What is the NPT?

The objective of the international treaty is to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons-making technology, allow its signatories to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and phase out the nuclear arsenal of the five original nuclear powers - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

When did the NPT take effect?

The treaty was signed July 1, 1968. It came into force in 1970 and it was extended indefinitely in May of 1995.

Who are the treaty’s signatories?

Most of the world, as 191 countries have signed the NPT. The holdouts are India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan. North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. North Korea, India and Pakistan have publicly disclosed their weapons program and Israel has long maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity.

How does it work?

The treaty establishes a safeguards system that is overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency uses inspections as a means to verify compliance of the treaty by member states.