A treaty banning nuclear weapons:
Completely and permanently bans the acquisition, possession, transfer and use of nuclear weapons: no exceptions, no loopholes, no withdrawals.
Explicitly prohibits "nuclear sharing" or similar practices, and perhaps also restricts military cooperation with nuclear-armed states.
Has similar nuclear safeguards requirements as the NPT - or stronger.
Stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT may sign and ratify the treaty, or accede to it later, without further steps.
Stipulates that declared or presumed nuclear-armed states (i.e. nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT and all states not party to the NPT) may only accede to the treaty after its entry into force, and will do so, individually or jointly, through an accession protocol to be negotiated with, and ultimately approved by, the treaty membership.
Outlines the general form of and minimum standards for accession protocols, including that they:
- may apply to one or more nuclear-armed states
- specify a series of specific, detailed steps for full nuclear disarmament, total destruction of nuclear arsenals, and the safe disposal of all components
- set a definite schedule for the process, with deadlines for the completion of each stage (the schedule may span decades, but must specify a final date for completion)
- include verification provisions and the means to implement them
In contrast to the treaty itself, each accession protocol will be a long, complex and highly technical instrument, especially when it involves more than one nuclear-armed state (which would most likely be the case). Accession protocols will take a long time to negotiate, and even longer to implement. But they will provide a definite path to a known end-point: compliance with the total ban on nuclear weapons.
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