07/02/2014 - 16:20

Slowing nuclear weapon reductions and endless nuclear weapon modernizations: A challenge to the NPT

Hans M. Kristensen

Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. His work focuses on researching and writing about the status of...

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Robert S. Norris

Norris is a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC. A former senior research...

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The nuclear-armed states have large residual nuclear arsenals, and post-Cold War reductions of nuclear weapons have slowed. Meanwhile, the nuclear nations have undertaken ambitious nuclear weapon modernization programs that threaten to prolong the nuclear era indefinitely. These trends present a challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty community, appearing to contradict the promises by the five NPT nuclear-weapon states to pursue a halt to the nuclear arms race and to seek nuclear disarmament. The NPT does not explicitly place limitations on modernizations, but the 2015 NPT Review Conference will have to address whether extending the nuclear arsenals in perpetuity is consistent with the obligations under NPT’s Article VI and the overall purpose of the treaty.