Paragraph 1 of Article XIV provides that the Treaty will enter into force 180 days after the date of the deposit of the instruments of ratification by all states listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty, but in no case earlier than two years after its opening for signature. This means that the earliest the Treaty could enter into force is September 24, 1998, i.e., two years after September 24, 1996, the date on which the Treaty was opened for signature. For this to occur, all of the states listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty will need to deposit their instruments of ratification by March 28, 1998, i.e., 180 days before the expiration of the two-year period. The purpose of the two-year delay is to provide the Preparatory Commission time to set up the Organization, establish the IMS and IDC, develop detailed implementing procedures, and to provide Signatory States with sufficient time to establish domestic legislation and ratify the Treaty.
The issue of which states would be required to sign the Treaty and deposit their instruments of ratification in order for the Treaty to enter into force became one of the most contentious issues addressed in the negotiations. The formula set forth in Amnex 2 to the Treaty effectively captures all five of the acknowledged nuclear-weapon states and the three so-called "threshold states," i.e., those states believed to have nuclear weapons capability that are not parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The criteria used in establishing the list contained in Annex 2 are discussed in the analysis of Annex 2 to the Treaty.
Paragraph 2 of Article XIV provides that, if the Treaty has not entered into force three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature, the Depositary (the U.N. Secretary-General) must convene a conference of the Signatory States that have already deposited their instruments of ratification upon the request of a majority of those states. The inclusion of the phrase "date of the anniversary of its opening for signature," introduces some ambiguity about the timing of the conference into the provision. However, the negotiating record reveals the negotiators' intent that, if the Treaty has not yet entered into force by September 24, 1999, the Depositary must convene a conference if requested to do so by a majority of Signatory States that have deposited their instruments of ratification. This conference would differ from meetings of the Preparatory Commission, in that the participants would be Signatory States that had deposited their instruments of ratification, rather than all Signatory States, although Signatory States who had not deposited instruments of ratification would be invited to attend as observers in accordance with paragraph 4 of this Article.
Paragraph 2 directs such a special conference to examine the extent to which the requirements set out in paragraph 1 have been met, i.e., the number of states listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty that have signed the Treaty and deposited their instruments of ratification, and requires the conference to consider and decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law may be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early entry into force of the Treaty. It is important to recognize that a conference convened in accordance with paragraph 2 would not have the authority to waive the requirements of paragraph 1, i.e., that all of the states listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty sign the Treaty and deposit their instruments of ratification before the Treaty can enter into force. Nevertheless, the conference would be able to exert considerable political influence on a state that had not signed the Treaty or had signed but not yet deposited its instrument of ratification. Note that paragraph 2 prohibits the conference from adopting any measures that would be inconsistent with international law. Thus, the conference could not, for example, use force or threaten to use force to induce a state to sign or ratify the Treaty.
Paragraph 3 of Article XIV provides that, unless otherwise decided by the conference referred to in paragraph 2 ( i.e., the conference of Signatory States that have deposited their instruments of ratification) or other such conferences, the process set forth in paragraph 2 must be repeated at subsequent anniversaries of the opening for signature of the Treaty, until it enters into force. This means that, unless a prior conference decides otherwise, a conference of Signatory States that have deposited their instruments of ratification shall be held each succeeding year some time after September 24.
Paragraph 4 of Article XIV provides that all Signatory States must be invited to attend a conference convened in accordance with paragraph 2 and any subsequent conferences convened in accordance with paragraph 3, as observers. The extent to which such Signatory States that had not yet deposited their instruments of ratification would be permitted to participate in the conference as observers would be determined by the participants in the conferences, i.e., Signatory States that had already deposited their instruments of ratification.
Paragraph 5 of Article XIV establishes the date of entry into force for those states that join the Treaty after it enters into force. Specifically, this paragraph provides that for states whose instruments of ratification or accession are deposited subsequent to the entry into force of this Treaty, it shall enter into force on the 30th day following the date of deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession.