A Strong NPT Treaty: Our Best Hope for a World Without Nuclear Weapons

Posted by Adam Scheinman
April 7, 2015
Flags Of Member Nations Fly Outside The General Assembly Building At The United Nations Headquarters in New York

Later this month, the international community will gather in New York to review the workings of the now-45-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since its entry into force in 1970, the NPT has become the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime to which nearly every country in the world has subscribed. 

The NPT is built on three mutually reinforcing pillars -- nonproliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. States that do not possess nuclear weapons commit to forego them, those that do will work in good faith towards disarmament and all responsible stakeholders have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear programs.

All countries have a vested interest in strengthening the treaty’s three pillars: We all share the responsibility to confront nuclear proliferation and ensure nuclear weapons do not end up in the hands of terrorists; we all benefit from positive movement toward disarmament; and we all gain from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The NPT remains an essential foundation for international efforts to confront nuclear dangers and seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, the vision President Obama laid out in his 2009 Prague speech.

If we didn’t already have the NPT, we would desperately need it today.

At the Review Conference in New York, diplomacy will take center stage. The United States is committed to working with all parties toward realistic, achievable objectives to strengthen the NPT and ensure a successful review conference, even as we deal with the challenges from the few countries that have violated their nuclear obligations.

The United States is committed to strengthening the nonproliferation regime and the authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency to implement nuclear safeguards -- a set of measures to verify that nuclear materials are used for peaceful purposes. The Treaty provides the foundation and context to resolve outstanding challenges to the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The ongoing negotiations with Iran provide the best diplomatic path forward for Iran to return to full compliance with the NPT.

The IAEA instills confidence among all NPT parties that a state’s civil nuclear energy is not being diverted into a nefarious weapons program. In New York, the United States will promote the IAEA Additional Protocol, now recognized as the foremost international standard for safeguards that provides the IAEA with the authority to ensure that all nuclear material is used for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the NPT.

The United States likewise remains steadfast in our commitment to disarmament in accordance with the NPT. In a demonstration of good faith and transparency, we disclosed publicly details on our nuclear weapon stockpiles, which have shrunk dramatically and continue to dwindle.  Today, the U.S. stockpile stands at about 15 percent of what it was at the height of the Cold War. When scheduled reductions under the New START Treaty are completed by 2018, U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons will be at levels not seen since the 1950s.

Future steps in disarmament will pose significant verification challenges, but the United States seeks to lead efforts to overcome those challenges and lay the groundwork for future disarmament. Two weeks ago the United States hosted the kick-off meeting of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification in Washington, D.C., which brought together representatives from 26 countries to address these technical verification issues to further reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. In the same spirit of transparency, just a few days ago our national labs in New Mexico hosted a group of nuclear experts and officials from more than a dozen countries to demonstrate first-hand the work the United States is doing on disarmament and verification.

Peaceful applications of the atom promote global development in such areas as human health, food and agriculture, water resource management and the environment. The United States’ record on sharing the atom’s peaceful benefits speaks for itself. Since 2010, we have been the largest contributor to IAEA peaceful use programs, providing more than $190 million, including $50 million toward the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, since the last NPT Review Conference in 2010.  We have also concluded civil nuclear cooperation agreements with 46 nations, Taiwan and the IAEA and continue to pursue agreements with additional partners.

Over the span of four decades, the NPT has provided an international legal basis for pragmatic cooperation to protect the world from nuclear dangers, even as we expand the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy. With nearly every country having joined the NPT, it is an essential contributor to international peace and security. We welcome all who are convening in New York, and look forward to carrying on the essential work of the NPT together.

About the Author: Ambassador Adam Scheinman is the President’s Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation. For more information on the NPT, visit www.state.gov/npt or follow Ambassador Scheinman on Twitter @USNPT.

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Comments

Maria P.
|
Germany
April 7, 2015
TEll a Clear NO Nuclear Weapon
Bryan M.
|
United States
April 8, 2015
If there were any serious commitment behind these platitudes, you would be putting pressure on Israel to sign the NPT, and you are not doing that.
Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
April 11, 2015

Mmmm....In my granddad's day, he and a bunch of other folks built an industry from scratch, a city from scratch, to build a couple bombs from scratch with only theories to go on, one of which was delivered untested on target, while both had never been tested being dropped from an aircraft before, to end a war that had taken some 60 million lives up to that point in 1945.

Start to finish it took 27 months, with no one knowing what they were working on, except a handful that actually knew what "the gadget" was. No one in Congress knowing where a few billion had gone in the middle of the most costly war in history.

Iran has had proven designs to work with, the scientific talent, overt and covert industrial capacity in place and black market suppliers, raw fissile material being mined and processed to one degree of purity or another, over more than a decade.

A reasonable person would wonder why Iran would not apparently have the bomb already?

No intent to build one? Even the Ayatollah would have to grasp why chanting "death to America" and other nations whenever he's in the mood might cause those on the receiving end of his calls for mass destruction to believe him intent on Iran building weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, and question any peaceful use of nuclear power.

One would hope between the sanctions, the IAEA, the proliferation security initiative, and the will of nations has kept them from being an undeclared nuclear weapons state over the years.

But what do you do if you are a state sponsor of terror and only have a couple bombs?

Nuke yourself and pretend "the great Satan" did it?

Or get a terrorist to do that for you?

Meanwhile back on the funny farm, the young-Un is lookin' to nuke Austin someday soon. Having triumphed and surpassed dad, AKA dearly departed "Dear Leader" Lil' Kim's -talent for floating sweet nothings about starting nuclear war when ever he felt like it. Boy's got a target in mind...apparently.

India and Pakistan still have their cold war going....Kashmir still a trigger for nuclear mayhem.

Everyone that's got 'em, invests in the military industrial complex that is "modernizing" arsenals, or building a better bang for the buck. No accounting for fiscal restraints.

Israel strives to maintain strategic ambiguity.....or nuclear "don't ask, don't tell".

Putin got a bright idea to put his nuclear forces on alert....for what? Who ya gonna nuke Vladamir?

"The United States is committed to working with all parties toward realistic, achievable objectives to strengthen the NPT and ensure a successful review conference, even as we deal with the challenges from the few countries that have violated their nuclear obligations."

Folks are too scared to give up their nuclear weapons. Scared because they have them, scared to think what they would do without them. scared to abandon their investment in what has become institutionalized as a "strategic deterrence" for lack of any better way to keep the peace among state actors. All armed with various types of weapons of mass destruction.

It's a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD world.

There's only a few ways to get humanity to stop thinking about nuking itself to extinction, call 'em "exit options;

1) If everyone lets them rust into obsolencence...introducing another type of strategic ambiguity over time.

2) If a really bad example set by an idiot with a nuke(s) motivates humanity to give up a bad habit.

3) If space aliens attack Earth and humanity finds someone more deserving to nuke than ourselves.

4) If world leaders of nuclear armed states must undergo a UN mandated mental health evaluation before assuming office, with yearly check ups to certify them not likely to nuke anyone anytime soon. Failure to certify becomes a chapter 7 agenda item before the UNSC.

5) Diplomacy and the NPT eventually brings sanity to the insane asylum.

(These are not listed in order of most likely to occur.)

I wonder what's more realistic to hope for...a global nuclear free zone, or winning the Powerball lottery in my lifetime?

As a moderate, where do I file to be put on the endangered species list when there's a cure for political stupidity, but world leaders won't take their meds?

EJ 4/11/15

Muhammed A.
|
Texas, USA
April 13, 2015
NPT is a decisive agreement , world powers are heading in a direction that a small conflict can trigger WW3 and a great numbers of Ballistic Misiles fired in a direction can penetrate through the BMD sheild.

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