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The context of the TPNW

The political dynamic around the TPNW is one of deep contestation, not just within the politics of nuclear disarmament, but of nuclear disarmament as a collective security strategy. The Treaty poses a significant challenge to a minority of states that have fundamentally inconsistent stances on nuclear weapons.

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Photo: Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

The clear majority of states not only support nuclear disarmament in principle, but also reject nuclear weapons in practice. The Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor finds that, as of 2020, 156 states – four-fifths of all states – have excluded any role for nuclear weapons in their security policies, as shown in the figure to the right and table below. Despite their longstanding commitment to disarmament, however, a minority of 41 states continue to base their security strategies on the possession and potential use of nuclear weapons, perpetuating nuclear risks and undermining the international community’s work towards nuclear disarmament.

Nine of these forty-one states are themselves nuclear-armed: China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The remaining 32 states are non-nuclear-armed states with arrangements of extended nuclear deterrence with nuclear-armed states (sometimes called a ‘nuclear umbrella’). These ‘umbrella states’ do not possess nuclear weapons themselves, but have outsourced their nuclear postures to their nuclear-armed allies and have endorsed or acquiesced in the possession, and potentially also the use, of nuclear weapons on their behalf. Of the 32 umbrella states, 2 (Armenia and Belarus) are allies of Russia, while the other 30 are allies of the United States. Of the latter 30, 27 are members of NATO. The remaining three (Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea)) have made bilateral nuclear defence arrangements with the United States.

Fig 1 World states by nattional security logo

All states by their national security policies

Category Total States
States with nuclear-free security policies 156 Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, DR Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Umbrella states 32 Albania, Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey.
Nuclear-armed states 9 China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States.