Is the Conclusion of an Additional Protocol Mandatory under the NPT?

In an article published in the July/August 2012 of Arms Control Today (‘The Rocky Road of Nuclear Diplomacy With Iran’), the former IAEA Head of Safeguards, Olli Heinonen, repeats the well-known contention that progress in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme would require Iran’s agreement ‘to implement an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement’ with the IAEA (the reader in search of an overview of the differences between the comprehensive IAEA Safeguards Agreements (INFCIRC/153) and the IAEA Additional Protocol (INFCIRC/540), shall have a look at the IAEA document ‘The Safeguards System of the International Atomic Energy Agency’, undated, available at, and the book published by the IAEA, The Evolution of IAEA Safeguards, Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, 1998).

It is interesting to observe that this ‘requirement’, which is basically a political one, has for some time been put in a ‘legal’ form, for instance during the latest Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (2010), during which several States parties expressed the view that the conclusion of an Additional Protocol (AP) is mandatory under Article III of the NPT.

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