Six states not party—Belarus, France, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States—engaged in conduct in 2022 that was not compatible with the TPNW’s prohibition on seeking or receiving assistance to engage in a prohibited act.
Belarus had already sought assistance from Russia in 2021 for the stationing of Russian nuclear weapons on its territory (an act that would itself not be compatible with the prohibition in Article 1(1)(g) of the TPNW on allowing the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons). This was followed in February 2022 with a referendum to allow the country to host nuclear weapons (and for Russian forces to remain permanently), part of a package of constitutional reforms that also extended the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.
In June 2022, Lukashenko again sought assistance from Russia when he agreed with President Vladimir Putin that Belarus would be involved in a nuclear sharing scheme involving the deployment of Russian Iskander missiles to Belarus, conversion of Belarusian warplanes to nuclear-capable status, and training of Belarusian pilots. The retrofit of Su-25 combat aircraft in service with the Belarusian Air Force and the training of pilots was to be conducted in Russia. The upgrade of the aircraft was reportedly complete by August 2022, enabling the aircraft to carry and deliver battlefield nuclear weapons. Deployment of nuclear warheads to Belarus has not taken place, but could be an option. In March 2023, Russia reported that it would construct a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by 1 July 2023.
South Korea’s government also petitioned the United States to ‘further integrate South Korea in nuclear planning and exercising’. While the South Koreans reportedly found the Americans uncomfortable with the term ‘nuclear sharing’ (a concept used in NATO), President Yoon Suk Yeol said that South Korea and the United States had agreed that while the United States would retain possession and ownership of all nuclear weapons, ‘the planning, information sharing, exercises, and training should be carried out jointly by South Korea and the US’. He added: 'In the sense that South Korea and the US are jointly involved, this is tremendous progress from the previous concept of extended deterrence.’ US diplomats later indicated that President Yoon’s understanding of the agreement was not the same as the United States'.
The United Kingdom on its part in 2022 unsuccessfully sought assistance with production and possession of nuclear weapons from Belgium. The Belgian government in November 2022 blocked the export to the United Kingdom of a specialised isostatic press which is produced in Belgium and critical for the production and maintenance of the UK’s nuclear warheads. The press is manufactured in Antwerp by the US-Belgian company EPSI. Since Britain’s exit from the European Union, a special license from the Belgian government is required to export the product. The export licence was stopped by Belgium’s deputy prime minister Georges Gilkinet, who is a member of the green party Ecolo and is opposed to nuclear weapons.
The other applicable cases in 2022 are described under the section above on the prohibition of assistance with prohibited activities (although with the focus on the parallel provision of assistance). They are also summarised below:
- France continued to receive assistance from Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain with development, production, and possession of nuclear weapons through the company Airbus and its involvement in the joint venture companies MBDA and ArianeGroup. France also continued to receive assistance from Italy with the development and production of nuclear weapons, through the Italian company Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and its involvement in the joint venture MBDA.
- Russia continued to receive assistance from Belarus with development and production of nuclear weapons through the Belarusian companies Minsk Automobile Plant and Volat (Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant).
- The United States continued to receive assistance with possession and stockpiling from Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye, which provide logistical and security services at the bases where the US nuclear weapons are stored on their territory.
- The United States´missile-testing programme, and by extension, its development of nuclear weapons also received assistance from the Marshall Islands.
- The United Kingdom appears to be seeking more or less continuous assistance from the United States to maintain and develop its nuclear capability.
- The United Kingdom receives continuous assistance with development and possession of nuclear weapons from France and vice versa, through a cooperation arrangement on maintenance of both states’ stockpiles.
- France receives continuous assistance with possession of nuclear weapons from the United States and vice versa, through a cooperation arrangement on the operation of nuclear-weapon systems.