The NPT turns 50: Will it get to 60?

By Henry Sokolski, March 9, 2020

Participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Countries in red or orange are non-members. Participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Countries in red or orange are non-members.

In the next decade, it is all too likely that the past success of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons among the world’s nations will be reversed. Three trends make more proliferation likely. First is the decay of nuclear taboos. Second, and arguably worse, is renewed vertical proliferation – the increase in size and sophistication of nuclear arsenals by states that already have them. Third, the technical information to fuel nuclear breakouts and ramp-ups is more available now than in the past. These trends toward increased proliferation are not yet facts. The author describes three steps the international community could take to save the NPT: making further withdrawals from the NPT unattractive; clamping down on the uneconomical stockpiling and civilian use of nuclear weapons materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); and giving real meaning to efforts to limit the threats that existing nuclear weapons pose. Free-access until May 1, 2020.

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