Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Terrorism

Nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and ultimately a world free of weapons of mass destruction are a priority of Austria’s foreign and security policy. Austria holds the view that only a generalised abandonment and condemnation of such weapons can put a halt to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In support of the international efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, Austria, like many other states, stresses the humanitarian impact of these weapons. After Oslo/Norway (2013) and Nayarit/Mexico (February 2014), the third conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons took place in Vienna on 8/9 December 2014 (see for details).

Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970 and forms the basis of the international nuclear regime. While codifying the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the treaty binds all States parties (the nuclear weapons States China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA excepted) to renounce nuclear weapons. The five nuclear weapons States commit to nuclear disarmament and the goal of eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. India, Israel and Pakistan are the only States which are not party to the NPT. In 2003 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal from the treaty. Every five years the States parties gather for a Review conference in order to evaluate the NPT’s implementation status.

At the 2015 Review Conference, no consensus concerning a final document could be reached. From 2 to 12 May 2017 the first Preparatory Commission for the 2020 Review Conference was held in Vienna. The scarce progress of the implementation of nuclear weapons States’ commitment to disarmament and the compliance with non-proliferation are major challenges for the NPT.

Nuclear Terrorism

The international cooperation to secure nuclear material from unauthorised and criminal acts is foreseen in the framework of the IAEA. The risk of the use of nuclear weapons or of nuclear or radioactive material by terrorists only began to be acknowledged as a real threat at the beginning of the 21st century. The Convention for the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material was therefore expended under Austrian leadership. Furthermore, a series of initiatives was launched in which Austria takes part (GICNT – Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism; PSI – Proliferation Security Initiative). The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1540(2004), binding all States to prevent the proliferation of (nuclear, chemical and biological) weapons of mass destruction, as well as their means of delivery to non-state actors. The resolution is implemented both at national as well as at EU-level. Austria supported the strengthening and improved coordination of cooperation in international and regional organisations, as well as the involvement of civil society as appropriate.