The treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons entered into force in 1970. It is the main international mechanism for controlling the spread of nuclear weapons. It contains the only multilateral commitment to nuclear disarmament on the part of the nuclear weapon states.
At the heart of the Treaty is an implicit bargain: non-nuclear countries agree to forswear the acquisition of nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful nuclear technology; nuclear weapons states at the same time agree (in Article VI): "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament..." The NPT was extended indefinitely at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995.
The NPT also provides for its verification by obliging States Parties to conclude safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These agreements allow IAEA to verify that nuclear material is not diverted from fuel-cycle activities for use in a nuclear weapons programme. Since the early 1990s, the IAEA Secretariat and its Member States have been working to introduce a strengthened, more rigorous inspection and verification system, under the legal authority of existing Safeguards Agreements and through Additional Protocols to the agreements.top of page
The "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction" (CWC) bans parties from making and holding chemical weapons and also requires them to destroy such weapons and production facilities. It also establishes a system of monitoring and verification for activities with certain toxic chemicals and their precursors, many of which have legitimate uses.
The CWC was opened for signature in January 1993, following 20 years of negotiation. The Convention stipulated that it would come into effect 180 days after the so-called 'trigger point' of 65 ratifications was reached. The Convention entered into force on 29 April 1997 and at May 2009 had 187 State Parties.
As part of the CWC monitoring process, New Zealand is obliged to report transfers (both imports and exports) of CWC scheduled goods, as follows:
The Convention prohibits the transfer of Schedule 1 and 2 chemicals to states which are not party to the Convention.
In order to meet our obligations, all scheduled chemicals require a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for both import and export. Section 4.4.5 contains further information on this process including full lists of CWC Scheduled Chemicals, and their locations in the NZSGL. The CWC is implemented in New Zealand through the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1996.top of page
As of June 2005, 171 states have signed the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction" (BWC). The Convention requires states parties not to make or hold microbial or biological agents or toxins, except for peaceful purposes, such as medical research.
Under the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction" otherwise known as the Ottawa Convention, the export, import, and possession of landmines is prohibited, except for the development of and training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. New Zealand's commitment to this Convention is given force in the Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act 1998.
Established in 1991 by resolution of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the UN Conventional Arms Register serves as a universal and non discriminatory confidence building measure designed to prevent excessive and destabilising accumulation of arms. States make voluntary reports of imports and exports in 8 major weapons categories - battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, long range missiles and small arms and light weapons. New Zealand strongly supports the Register, and consistently submits a full return. Since its inception, the register has been expanded to take in military holdings and procurement through national production.
The Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) [formerly known as the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC)] was launched at a conference in The Hague on 25-26 November 2002.
The HCOC calls for curbs on proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and for the "maximum possible restraint in development, testing and deployment". It also asks subscribing states to take part in increased transparency and confidence-building measures such as provision of information about missile programmes, and pre-launch notifications.top of page
From time to time the United Nations Security Council is called upon to address situations where international peace and security are threatened or breached. The Security Council has the power to employ a range of measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to maintain or restore peace and security. These measures may involve the imposition of sanctions against a particular regime (such as a political faction, whether or not governmental in nature,) or more generally against the State in which a breach of peace or act of aggression is occurring or is threatened. Such sanctions may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations with the State or regime in question.
Under Article 48(1) of the UN Charter, member States of the United Nations are obliged to give the necessary effect in their domestic law to decisions of the Security Council under Chapter VII. In New Zealand, the imposition of economic sanctions against a country may, depending on their precise nature, result in exports to that country being prohibited, except with the consent of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
The UN Security Council is continually reviewing the sanctions that apply to all of these countries. Prospective exporters should contact the Legal Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for detailed information on their current applicability or read more about Security Council sanctions.
The Customs Export Prohibition Order 1996, on which authority the New Zealand Strategic Goods List is based, cannot cover goods or technologies not proscribed in the list, nor can it cover assistance given by a New Zealand citizen, resident, or corporate entity by way of contract, employment or service to the development of a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capability. New Zealand does, however, have legislation which restricts the ability of New Zealanders to assist countries in developing such a capacity.
The three relevant Acts are the Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987, the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act 1996, and the Nuclear Test Ban Act 1999. Under these Acts, it is an offence to assist or encourage the development, production, acquisition, or control of Weapons of Mass Destruction (or in the case of the Nuclear Test Ban Act, the testing of Nuclear Weapons) covered by the Act. The specific language used and extraterritorial application varies for each Act, and as a result so does the extent of applicability to particular situations.
If you have concerns about the possibility of contributing to a Weapons of Mass Destruction programme, you are advised to contact the Export Controls Administrators in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We can investigate the potential for goods or services to contribute to such a programme, and are happy to advise you accordingly.
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