CNSC is responsible for implementing Canada's nuclear non-proliferation policy which contains two broad, long-standing objectives:
- to assure Canadians and the international community that Canada's nuclear exports do not contribute to the developments of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and
- to promote a more effective and comprehensive international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
The cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The NPT establishes commitments to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and achieve nuclear disarmament. Canada is an original signatory to the NPT and has centered on the treaty's provisions.
CNSC, through the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSC Act) and corresponding regulations, implements Canada's NPT commitments:
- not to receive, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices
- to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear material in peaceful uses in Canada; and
- to ensure that Canada's nuclear exports to non-nuclear-weapon states are subject to IAEA safeguards.
Under the NSC Act and its regulations, Canadian importers and exporters are required to obtain and comply with CNSC licences controlling the international transfer of nuclear and nuclear-related items. Licensees must respect Canada's nuclear non-proliferation commitments. Through the licensing process, CNSC takes steps to ensure that nuclear imports and exports are consistent with Canada's nuclear non-proliferation policy.
The policy requires that major nuclear exports must be made subject to a nuclear cooperation agreement between Canada and the importing country. These agreements establish reciprocal obligations that are designed to minimize the risk of proliferation associated with the international transfer of major nuclear items. CNSC participates with Foreign Affairs Canada in the negotiation of bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements and implements administrative arrangements with its foreign counterparts to effectively fulfill the terms and conditions of these agreements.