Emory International Law Review


The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons features many ambiguous provisions. Arguably its most controversial provision'Part 1 of Article IV'address states' rights to nuclear energy for 'peaceful purposes.' Non-Nuclear Weapon States argue that they have an inalienable right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, while Nuclear Weapon States emphasize that the rights of Non-Nuclear Weapon States to nuclear technology does not entitle them to all materials and technologies. The subsequent 'nuclear apartheid''with Non-Nuclear Weapon States claiming that Nuclear Weapon States are denying access to certain nuclear materials and technologies to maintain the current state of nuclear hierarchy'has intensified the discussion. Despite the consistent debate, the Treaty does not define what a 'peaceful purpose' is. This Article incorporates the standards from the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties to interpret 'peaceful purpose,' concluding that certain nuclear materials and technologies'like depleted uranium and naval reactor fuel'should not be considered uses of nuclear energy for 'peaceful purposes.'