The Future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT): Prospects and Problems
The United States is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which will be subject to a review conference next month. For the arms-control community, the NPT is seen as the bulwark of successful efforts to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But the NPT has two potentially fatal flaws. First, the NPT allows countries to develop uranium-enrichment capability as part of a peaceful nuclear power program; but such capability is the basis for developing nuclear weapons. Second, the premise of the NPT is that in exchange for the other nonnuclear signatories (currently 183 countries) giving up their nuclear aspirations, the five nuclear signatories agree to eventually dismantle their nuclear arsenals. The latter goal was probably never realistic. Moreover, a U.S. policy of preemptive regime change actually creates incentives for countries to acquire, not forswear, nuclear weapons. Our experts will discuss the prospects and problems facing the upcoming NPT review conference.