Article VIII, in three paragraphs, sets forth the procedures for convening Review Conferences and determining the frequency of such conferences. The convening of such conferences is a common practice during the implementation of arms control treaties, and provides States Parties with an opportunity to review the operation and effectiveness of the convention or treaty.
Paragraph 1 of Article VIII requires the States Parties to convene the first Review Conference ten years after the entry into force of the Treaty, unless a majority of all of the States Parties decides otherwise. This paragraph indicates that the purpose of this conference is to review the operation and effectiveness of the Treaty, with a view to assuring the States Parties that the objectives and purposes in the Preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realized, and taking into account any new scientific and technological developments relevant to the Treaty. The United States intends to reject any efforts to transform the Conference into a multilateral forum for negotiation of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, or for formally evaluating U.S. progress in the areas of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
Paragraph 1 also provides that if a State Party requests, the Review Conference must consider the possibility of permitting the conduct of underground nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. If the Review Conference decides by consensus that such nuclear explosions may be permitted, paragraph 1 requires the Review Conference to commence work without delay, with a view to recommending to States Parties an appropriate amendment to the Treaty that will preclude any military benefits of such nuclear explosions. Any such proposed amendment must be communicated to the Director-General by a State Party and must be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Article VII, which sets forth the procedures for amending the Treaty.
It is important to note that Article I prohibits the carrying out of any nuclear explosion, regardless of whether its stated purpose was peaceful or otherwise. Accordingly, if the Review Conference decided to permit such explosions for peaceful purposes, the "appropriate amendment" to the Treaty that would preclude any military benefits of such nuclear explosions would likely have to, inter alia, amend Article I in order to exempt expressly such nuclear explosions from the prohibitions set forth therein.
Throughout the negotiations, the U.S. delegation consistently opposed all attempts to create an exception for so-called peaceful nuclear explosions in Article I. The United States does not know of, and does not foresee, any possibility of precluding military benefits from the conduct of such nuclear explosions.
Paragraph 2 of Article VIII provides that additional Review Conferences may be convened, at intervals of ten years after the first Review Conference, if the Conference of the States Parties so decides as a matter of procedure in the preceding year. This means that at its annual meeting, nine years after the convening of the previous Review Conference, the Conference could decide by a majority of its members present and voting to convene a Review Conference during the following year. Paragraph 2 indicates that the objective of such subsequent Review Conferences will be the same as that for the first Review Conference, namely to review the operation and effectiveness of the Treaty, with a view to assuring States Parties that the objectives and purposes in the Preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realized. Paragraph 2 also permits the Conference of the States Parties to convene such conferences after an interval of less than ten years if so decided by the Conference as a matter of substance, i.e., by consensus or, if consensus is not possible, by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.
Paragraph 3 of Article VIII provides that normally, any Review Conference must be held immediately following the regular annual session of the Conference provided for in paragraph 14 of Article II.